Thursday, 27 March 2014

Letters from Latvia - Nica 19th of February 1948

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.


This is the 15th Letter in the series. 

Before the next letter I must say that given Latvia's history it is hard not to mention how scary the current events in the Ukraine are for Latvians. Now more then ever I feel the need to continue publishing these letters. 

For those who are unaware, after WWII an iron curtain went up around the Soviet Union - which at the time included Latvia. Those behind the curtain watched their countries and way of life be destroyed slowly by the imperialistic Communist system. The Latvian language itself was nearly made extinct through mass immigration and language policy.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, many people who considered themselves ethnic Russians decided to stay in Latvia. Because most Latvians spoke Russian but few Russians spoke Latvian, the Lativan language laws were introduced in order to protect our heritage. Today, there is a large minority of people who identify themselves as Russian still living in Latvia. Some Russians feel that these laws discriminate against them since they are not allowed to become citizens unless they speak Latvian (or are born in Latvia). Of course, if they took the time and effort to learn they could become citizens but still, many whinge about discrimination.

It should be noted here that I consider myself an ethnic Latvian however since I cannot speak Latvian I am not allowed to become a Latvian citizen. The language requirement has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. The argument that a language requirement for citizenship is made even more absurd when viewed from countries such as Australia and America which have basic history tests, in English for citizenship - and English unlike Latvian, is in no danger of extinction!

Since the restoration of Latvian independence, there have been many veiled (and explicit) threats from officials in the Russian government and military aimed at Latvia. Many Russians are unhappy that their old empire is aligning itself with Europe.

With regard to the so called election in Crimea in which the citizen exercise their right to self determination (if you believe that is really what happened) I will only say this: If Russians want to live in Russia, there is a place that they can go - Russia. Let us pray that there will always be a Ukraine for Ukrainians to live in (and a Latvia for Latvians to)!

Here is the next letter in the series:


Nica 19.2.48
Sincere greetings to you, our dear Janis, Lidija and Ilmars!
Dear Janis far away, yesterday we received your letter, which we had so been waiting for, and we were again all so very happy about it. It was written on the 20th January and so reached us in one month, which is 2 weeks faster than usual. And since the letter we received before that was written on the 25th November, I think there must be some letter written in between which is still on the way and will arrive, because the letter you wrote before that took 2 months. That doesn’t really matter, as long as it does reach us.
Dear brother, you have written so much about yourself again, your life in a distant place, and it is so  lovely to read words written by your own hand about how you are doing there far away. So we can be closer to you in our thoughts  and to what you are doing, for we are always concerned about you, and with you about your wife Lidija, and Ilmars and everyone close to you and to us. But naturally, and how else could it be, our hearts feel more for you, and pray for fate to be kind to you and bless you. But we would like to wish the same from our hearts to each and every one who is struggling to exist in exile and may they all be able to return safe and well to their homeland and experience happier times. Do you eat at a communal kitchen? We are happy that you are clothed and are not cold, but how can you manage on your pay? I am glad also that you have a radio and a lot of books. Is that the radio that you “manufactured” yourself? So you should be able to listen to broadcasts from Latvia too, from Liepaja, which is so close to us? … The radio and books are like friends, aren’t they, which strengthen the spirit and the soul? I hope your studies go well, dear brother. It may be that all knowledge can be usefully employed in life. – Everything at home is the same, the days are getting noticeably longer and make it seem that a brighter time is coming, the dark winter will soon have passed, the happy, light spring will come again! – Father has been going to the forest, bringing back firewood, Mum is knitting, I am embroidering a blouse for myself with national designs. And when our wool has been spun in Liepaja, we will start weaving, which Mum might let me have a go at too this time. We are all fit and well, we live and work and hope to see you come home also fit and well! We do not doubt that. May God stand by you now and help you! Our very, very loving greetings from your family here - at home.

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