Scanning the Family albums

Over the next few months I intend to post some old photos that my father Janis CIRKSIS kept in various albums. I'll post a couple of photos here with some quick descriptions so you have some idea of what is to come.

As I post photos, it is my intention to research them as much as possible. If you can add any information about anything I post please feel free to comment below.

Miķēlis ČIRKŠIS, my Grandfather. I believe this photo was taking slightly after or possibly during WWI. Miķēlis was a Latvian freedom fighter. I am hoping to trace some record of where and on which side he fought during the war - before he fought for Latvian independence. 

Pēteris ČIRKŠIS. I only know a little of Pēteris, apparently he was quite bright and attended university before falling ill. At some point he joined the communist party in Latvia. When the Soviets invaded he was horrified by what they did to the Latvian people and decided to stay when the Germans invaded - rather than flee to Russia. Unfortunately, according to Janis CIRKSIS, Pēteris was shot by the Nazis in a case of mistaken identity. In recent times I have wondered if Pēteris was really shot or if he was taken to the camps. I have made some requests from the International Tracing Service that will hopefully give me more information, perhaps even the site where he is buried; so stay posted!  

Janis CIRKSIS. Shortly after his brother Pēteris was shot by the Nazis, Janis was illegally conscripted into the Germany Army.  At first Janis was assigned to the Labour service but in the final years of the war he was assigned to the infantry. Janis told me that he was trained to have a particular rifle that had a switch for fully automatic or semi automatic fire however by the time he finished basic training, these were in short supply. For the majority of his time in the infantry, Janis didn't even have a gun! I can recall several interesting stories which I intent to tell in future posts.

The front gate of the DP camp Janis CIRKSIS stayed at after WWII.  I have about a dozen photos of Latvian life in the DP camps. I will post them once I have done some research on this camp.

In this photo my aunty, Katrina ČIRKŠIS (standing) and my Grandmother, also named Katrina ČIRKŠIS! The two other people are reporters from a Latvian newspaper who were writing down Latvian Folk songs and Folk lore in an attempt to preserve it through the occupation. My grandmother was apparently very well versed in Latvian Folklore. The event pictured here was mentioned in a book published on the topic. Again, something that I will delve into in later posts.

Katrina ČIRKŠIS. Shown here working on the farm that once belonged to the CIRKSIS family but was taken away by the state and turned in to a collective farm. I have approximately 200 letters written to my father that are either from my aunty or my grandmother - I won't know for sure until I have them translated because they shared the same name! When I have these translated, I will no doubt have a valuable incite into what living under Soviet occupation was like for Latvians.

Well, that's all I have time for now. I will continue to digitise letters and photographs from Janis's collection but in the mean time, if you would like to help me translate some of these letters please let me know! There are a LOT of them, they are all hand written and unfortunately, I don't speak or read latvian so without help this will be a very slow process indeed! And as always, if you have something to add, post a comment below!


  1. Have you noticed the silver brooch your Aunt Katrina is wearing in the photo with the journalists? It jumped out at me because in one of the letters on your page someone says they want to ask a jeweller to make them a brooch with dangling bits.
    I've seen that design a lot and didn't realise it wasn't traditional or maybe it is.
    As 'Kate' says - " we are occasionally starting to see here ..."

    " I myself was happy to learn that you have become a silversmith and can make nice Latvian jewellery. Those things are so nice and I have been thinking of trying to order one of those interesting brooches with dangles which we are occasionally starting to see here, but I will be patient and wait till you return home and can make one for me yourself. I would like that much more. Kate" Nica 4.5.48 15th letter"

    1. You have a very good eye! Now that you mention it I inherited a very similar necklace from my mother - given to her by my father but I don't think it is the same one... I will have to take it out of storage and have another look. I have a few pieces of Latvian jewellery and art that were passed down to me, I should probably post some photos.


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