Friday, 12 June 2015

Letters from Latvia - Nīca 30th of April 1955

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 19th Letter in the series. 

You might notice a little paranoia in this letter - not unfounded I might add. You will note a lack of full names. In this letter, Kate refers to "Uncle P". I believe this refers to Peteris PIRTNIEKS, Janis's uncle who was deported to Siberia - see the post Postcards from Sibīrija

Nica, 30.4 (1955)

Sincere and loving greetings to you, dear brother, from - me, mum and dad!!!

It’s a week now since mum greeted me on my arrival home from work with the words that today is again a very happy day, we have received a letter from Janis. We read the lines you had written with indescribable joy and emotion, for which we say thank you, but even more so for the photos, which gave us great pleasure. It seems to me, my dear brother, that you have not changed very much – your features are just as dear and familiar as before – long ago….. Also I would not say that you look older. Your goddaughter has grown a lot though, become much taller over these years. And, dear brother, it made us very happy and reassured us to see that you have settled in so nicely and I must say prosperously, that at least materially you are not poorly off, and have been able to settle in so nicely and well through your own efforts! – On Sunday I took the atlas again and traced place by place where you travelled till you got to the shores of your present place of abode. We thank God that you got there safely! You, dear brother, as I remember, used to admire the life of a sailor, now you have been able to experience a long sea voyage.

Next Sunday I am going to the cemetery to plant jonquils and tulips on grandma’s grave, and I will then give her your love, from you, her grandson far away…Mum and dad were very moved by your words of gratitude for the care they gave you, and that for now is the most beautiful and the biggest gift that you can give them and also the knowledge that in exile you have kept your sense of honour, a pure heart and your health.

You, dear brother, speak of repaying your parents in some way now. We know that it would be as great a joy for you to send something as for us to receive from you. Not because of the material value or need, it would give more pleasure as a proof of love. Still, dear brother, better not to do it now! Not because anything bad would happen to us because of it, but we are afraid that it might be noticed, or possibly cause envy and that then our contact through letters might be stopped. That is for now the most precious and joyful thing to us, that we can communicate. We are not in poverty, dear brother, we do not lack anything. We are a small family and know how to manage and to work. Last summer we bought furniture for me as well, a wardrobe, couch, bookcase, table, bedside cabinet, we only didn’t have enough money for chairs, we will get those later on. We sold the smoked bacon from one pig, were able to save a bit from a heifer and the strawberries, and that is how we were able to do it. That’s how mum wanted it and it’s not bad. At least for now….. The furniture is really nice. You say, dear brother, that we should not deprive ourselves and save for you. But we have sheep, mum knows how to weave cloth herself, knit gloves and socks, we can’t wear it all out ourselves. And it gives mum pleasure and comfort that she can put aside something useful while waiting for you (pl.). – You say, dear brother, that you would like to exchange letters at least a couple of times a year. I think that that would not be quite often enough, we would have to wait too long. In my opinion five or six letters would not be a lot and not conspicuous, nobody will forbid us that, and we can permit ourselves that much. Better not the parcels, though. The greatest joy to us, to our parents, will be you yourself, when fate permits it!...  I could have taken the easy road in life, as they say, but have never wanted to do that, and the illness that mum had assisted me in that, as if by fate. “Smoke-filled and dusty work, but let the sky remain bright.” We have helped uncle P.’s family a lot with parcels. Dainis has now grown into a good-looking and strapping lad, 18 years old. Little Janis with diabetes is now resting in the earth over there. Peteris S.’ father and young brother as well, we still correspond with his mother now and again and send a parcel. It is better for them all there now. Some have returned. Old Mrs Str. asks if you know anything about her V. With loving greetings and all the best! Until we meet!

-  Kate

PS. I am enclosing two photos. In one mum and dad by the veranda, in the other cutting the rye at the kolkhoz by our house. Mum had brought out the afternoon snack, we were reaping by the edge of the field and so she is with our group. Pretending we are having our snack. 
Katrine and Mikelis standing by the veranda

Cutting rye at the kolkhoz near the family house. The workers pose for the camera pretending to have a snack. 

PS. When the apple trees are flowering, we will get our cousin Peteris K. to take photos of us all. – The spring is late this year. A few days ago there was a wild snowstorm, it stopped the car traffic. Now the snow has melted. The winter flowers are showing above the ground. I have a lot of jonquils and white and red tulips.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Letters From Latvia - Nica 15th of March 1955


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 18th Letter in the series. 

A long break between this letter and the last and how things have changed for both Janis and Kate and the family in Latvia! The family farm had been seized by the Soviet government and turned into a collective farm. It would take about another 50 years before the family could claim part of their hard earned land back - and give it away again to a deserving family as it turned out. Will the Cirksis family ever return to Latvia? Who can say - certainly Janis would never have guessed where life would take him! Again we are confronted with the mystery of what ever happened to Peteris CIRKSIS?

A happy and bright Easter to you all! Please send us a photo or two, we are longing for your reply.

Nica, 15.3. (1955?)
Our dear brother and son!

Sincere greeting to you from mum, dad and your little sister at home!!! 

Yesterday we had such a happy day, we received your letter! It was such an immeasurably happy surprise for us, at first we could only cry, even now, as I am writing, I can’t help it. But that’s nothing, those tears are not harmful, for they are tears of joy. Yesterday because of the great, happy surprise, mum already had to take some drops. All this time, even though we knew and believed that you are alive somewhere in the wide world, still we worried and sometimes had doubts. Our only comfort was knowing that the flow of letters from over your side had stopped altogether. Now, in the last couple of years, we have heard from here and there that someone has received a letter, especially lately. And now we have also experienced this enormous joy, my dear brother, of receiving a letter from you from so far away! Truly,  where has fate not scattered Latvians now? ... I took a small atlas and geography book straight away and looked for the place and read about the country where you are living now. I found the port city Melbourne, which is not mentioned in your address though, but clearly legible on the stamp. Then I read that it has a hot, mostly dry climate, and the sun doesn’t even shine from the south there, but from the north. – You are so far from us, I can’t even imagine by what route your letter came to us. I think possibly by air, for it has reached us in 20 days, that seems to me unexpectedly fast for that distance!

First of all, my dear brother, we would like to know if your family is as before, or has it had some addition? If that has been possible in your difficult circumstances. What are you working at, what are your wife Lida and son Ilmars doing? Are you living in the country or in the city? Have you got a job that is suited to your education or a manual job. – We just wonder if you have not had too hard a time all this time? …Still, your energy and understanding have always helped you, dear brother. Are there still, and have you been able to see, the real original inhabitants of Australia?

You will want to know, dear brother, how we are living and how we are, here at home? The main thing is that we are living in our own home. We are kolkhoz workers. Father and I are working in the field brigade. The kolkhoz was founded in the spring of 1949. The first summer mum and I milked cows. Then in the winter she looked after the young cows and I worked as a bookkeeper for the neighbouring forestry. Then in the summer I was free, mum from the cows as well, then we both went to work in the fields again, father too. In the autumn I did not do bookkeeping again, for the working hours there were unlimited and too long, so I could not help at home. Then that winter I worked as a domestic at the school. In the summer I started to go to work at the kolkhoz again.  Father was then for several years the miller at the stock feed mill set up in the granary of the manor house. – Then - in February 1952, mum fell ill, it started with pneumonia and then she was bedridden for four months. After that she almost had to learn to walk again like a child. Thanks to a good doctor, whom we called out from Liepaja, she gradually got better. And this winter she is quite fit again. We don’t let her go to the kolkhoz, but she busies herself at home again now. She has woven cloth, in preparation for her sons. Just this winter she wove blankets. The cardigans have been ready for a long time already. She makes everything for Peteris as well. We don’t know anything about him but we hope. Oh yes, I have to tell you now that I have been an old maid for 3 years now. I still haven’t had any serious thoughts about marriage yet and I don’t know when I will have. I don’t regret this yet. – There would be a lot more to ask and to tell you, but there will be another time. – Still, it is very painful, dear brother, that we have to be apart so long and that you have to be so far from your homeland and your own people. Oh that fate would let us meet again soon! Sincere, warm greetings to you and your dear ones, health and strength!!! – your little sister Kate.

PS Father is guarding the shop at night now, starting from the autumn. He was sick as well for about a month with pleurisy. He is well again now. Grandmother died on the 20th April, 1951 – on Peteris’ birthday.

PS We are fed and clothed. We have half a hectare. We keep one cow. We have a little one as well now, when it grows, it will have to be sold. We keep 2 pigs a year. We keep and then take to the market some cream and cottage cheese. I make clothes myself. Only not coats and jackets. Yes, we can live. There is more work to do because the fields of the kolkhoz are extensive. In the winter we are at home.

PS I am enclosing a four-leaf clover, I remember you used to like such greetings from home.  – Kate.