Saturday, 30 May 2015

Letters From Latvia - Nica 5th of August 1949

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 17th Letter in the series. 

PS Greetings from old Mr Meiers)

Nica, 5.8.49
Very loving greetings from home!

We received a letter from you again, dear Janis, about which we were again so very happy, for we had been waiting for a long time. But now we know that they won’t come so often and we don’t worry in vain about why you are not writing. Thank you so much for the letter and the greeting cards for Whitsun and Jāņi! You have such pretty, typically Latvian postcards there. I am glad that it is possible for such cards to be made there. – I haven’t written to you for such a long time either. We were waiting for a letter from you but maybe could write a bit more often. I will now tell you briefly how things have been for us, how our work has gone, what your birthplace looks like now. – Weeding time is finished, and our Latvian Jāņi came. We passed them fairly quietly. There was a ball at Reingals on Līgo night, our new brass band played for the first time. The weather was fine and it could be heard beautifully over a wide area. I was late with my jobs and did not want to go in the dark, but I was sorry about that. But still, it was maybe even better at home – in a room decorated with birch-boughs and flowers with the window open to feel the spirit of Līgo night and be with you in my thoughts and with all Latvians in exile – don’t your hearts ache also, and even more so, that you cannot be in your homeland and each in your own place and celebrate happily…the day of Jāņi after that was rainy, the firefighters had planned an event at the manor house,  but it didn’t happen, because of the rain. Mr Pirtnieks had come with his family as he is a firefighter and the forester’s children came and we played games inside – after that it was very rainy and cool till the middle of July. We managed to get the clover in fairly well before the rainy period really started. It finally ended with rain and thunder that lasted more than a week nonstop, several hours every day. After that the weather cleared again and only then did the summer show its real warmth and loveliness. There wasn’t a drop of rain while we were getting the hay in. Now it’s beginning to rain again on and off, but it doesn’t matter so much now. Soon everyone will have cut their rye. We would have finished by tonight but there was a bit of rain after lunch, we will finish tomorrow. Tomorrow we will go and help the foresters, there will be more reapers there. We did ours by ourselves this year. – We have made quite a lot of jam as well, only the red currants still to pick and preserve. - I went to Liepaja too to take part in the song festival, even though our choir has petered out, nobody went to the rehearsals, but we had to go to Riga for our national costumes, I didn’t go there as a participant, Vera went too and the forester couple. Vera and I stayed with Baris’ sister. Baris is back home now and working as a gardener. It was lovely and very worthwhile to see our Riga, since I had the chance. We visited all the most notable places, cemeteries and monuments. Vera went to see the school she will be teaching at as well in Zemgale and so I got to see Jelgava too and go on the Lielupe in a boat. In short, it was a worthwhile excursion, even though I was away from home for a week. On account of the singers, they didn’t issue train tickets for two days. So I have seen a part of our Homeland again. In the end though, I wished to be home and it was so good to return there, when you return from being away you feel the love that binds you to your home, your birthplace. I can better understand now what you feel, being far away…Thank God that you are doing reasonably well, you are all fed and clothed, that you can study and achieve something and have achieved something already and can thus live better while you are away. We are also glad that you have your own little plot of land, small garden and chickens. I’ve also got quite a lot of cucumbers and tomatoes and they have grown well, and will start to produce soon. Only no one had much joy with their strawberries this year. But other berries and apples were plentiful. I don’t know if I have told you everything now but if not, then we’ll tell you when you come home. It’s a pleasant evening at the moment, calm and dark already. There are yellow dahlias by the window and the grasshoppers are chirping. I will enclose some aster and phlox petals. Give our love to Lidija and Ilmars, and all our love to you.  All the very best! - Kate

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Letters From Latvia - Nica 2nd of February 1949

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 16th Letter in the series. 

It is worth noting that in 1949 Kate still believes that Peteris CIRKSIS may still return home. It is a puzzle I am yet ot solve: Where and when did Janis find out his brother's death? I never asked him for any details about it. All I was ever told was that Peteris was shot by the Nazis. I had always assumed either he or a family member witnessed this event but it seems not...

Nica, 2.2.49

“Let the storm rage, let the north wind howl,
Only upwards, upwards will go my road!”

Sincere greetings to you, dear brother far away!

Dear Janis, I am writing these words of our national poet Pludonis at the beginning of the letter, for you could say these same words about yourself, the road of your struggle is similar to that  of the “Widow’s son” described by the poet. We were again so very happy when we received another letter from you. Mum and I sat down on a heap of hay in the barn straight away to read it – and then this happy, heart-warming surprise, our dear Janis - has struggled and triumphed in a foreign place, has already reached the top of the mountain, become an engineer. Just like the “Widow’s son” was called by the white swan at the palace gate:

“Come, come with me, you winged spirit,
There beyond the mountains is the smiling spring!”

And what you have achieved can of course give you a lot more brightness in your life, as the spring does. And what we are the happiest about is that you have been able to forge a way through for yourself in a foreign place and achieved something that cannot ever be taken away from you. You can lose everything in life but intellectual values can be carried with you through fire and water. And I was moved to tears by what you said about how you strive in exile to raise the good reputation of the Latvian name. I don’t think that we, living here at home, could show such determination and tenacity. I think the strongest will to overcome everything is formed in the most difficult circumstances and against the greatest obstacles, so that in spite of everything you want to show that you can achieve what you want to achieve. But how you could achieve this in such a short time is something to marvel at and we can imagine that it was definitely not easy. And we are proud that you have shown this. I think it’s no use at the moment thinking about how our life will turn out, that will become clear when we are all together again, it is enough that we know that it will be much, much happier. Some of the people in Nica are also striving harder now to achieve the heights of knowledge and are doing tertiary study.  The daughter of Glamsts, the forester, is now already working in Liepaja as a dental technician. Janis Kamens is studying to be an architect, I think, and Ausma Silts and the Sprincis’ son are doing veterinary medicine in Perkongale, Klucis, who finished school at the same time as me, is doing forestry, Mum’s godson Fricis Eks is studying mechanics and Mirdza Br(?) agriculture. And some of the youngest ones, after finishing primary school, go on to secondary studies. And as for me, I hesitate and can’t decide what road I will start on when you return and maybe Peteris as well. I would probably like to study further but I feel that at my age I should be working at some productive job, but that will become clear when we are all together again. – For now it is not possible for me to leave the farm and my parents and I am content, although sometimes, when a good book turns up, then I will be absorbed in reading all evening, even over a number of days, even though I know there is a lot of work to do. But when I have no book to read, I get on with all the work with the same enthusiasm and speed, I make bed-linen, some item of clothing, I have made my first “best“  blouse and I can say that it turned out well. Mum is knitting socks for you, combing the remains of the wool, most of it was combed and spun in Liepaja. This year we will knit more, instead of weaving cloth.  We want to knit gloves for you. So we spend our days now doing ordinary, everyday jobs with the animals, the food, in the house and doing handiwork. We are all fit and well, only Vilnis the foal had a skin complaint, not mange, we called the vet and now he is alright again, he’s grown a lot, he will be big. He is affectionate, although he likes to nip, but we don’t let him do that and will break him of the habit. He’s only a foal after all. – And I can tell you the sad news that old Straupenieks, Valdis’ father, has died and won’t see his son come home…We went to his funeral on Sunday. They say he cried because he would not see Valdis again. He had some kind of spasms, a paralysis. Old Mrs Sipols died as well before Christmas. But the younger generation is growing strongly and multiplying. Mrs Pavils has had a daughter. – I am enclosing a leaf for Peteris as well. We will all look forward to letters from you. Sincere greetings to you and yours from your family, relatives and friends in your Homeland.

PS We received your letter on the 20th January, that is unusually quickly.The last ones we sent you were on 18.11, 2.1 and now this one. Kate