Ancestor Story: Arvids Akerfelds

1. Early Life

Arvids Martins Akerfelds was born on September 30th, 1927 at “Skrundenieki” farm in Nikrace, the second of fourteen children born to Janis Akerfelds and his wife Anna (nee Ziverts). Skrundenieki was owned by Anna’s brother Arturs Ziverts at this time, and there were nine people residing there: Arvids, his parents, and his older brother named Arturs (presumably for Arturs Ziverts), his uncle and aunt (Arturs Ziverts married Katte [nee Akerfelds], two Akerfelds siblings married two Ziverts siblings), their first child Alberts, and finally both his widowed paternal and maternal grandmothers, Jule Ziverts (nee Dzerve) and Ieva Akerfelds (nee Sedols).

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, c. 1940 in Latvia

Between the first and second World Wars, Latvia underwent some drastic political and social changes, including writing a new Constitution, establishing a Parliament (called the Saeima) and electing Latvia’s first president, Janis Cakste. A new influential political party was also formed, called the Latvian Farmer’s Union, headed by Karlis Ulmanis which helped pass reforms to divide State property which had once been owned by German landowners and make it available to Latvian peasants who could now own the land they lived and worked on. This boosted agriculture greatly in Latvia, which in turn helped boost the economy even through the worldwide Great Depression in the 1930’s. The number of farms increased significantly. Latvia began producing electronics, cars and even airplanes.

The Ziverts and Akerfelds families grew rapidly in this peaceful time. A census was taken in 1935, at which time the number of residents at Skrundenieki had grown to 20, all Akerfelds or Ziverts, except for one Arons Tevlovs, listed as a cattle buyer and seller. Perhaps he was a migrant worker of some kind. Arvids would have worked on the farm as a child, like everyone else living there, and he attended the equivalent of elementary school at the Nikrace pamatskola from 1936 to 1943 (ages 9-16) with his many brothers and sisters and cousins. Another census was taken in 1941, showing 24 residents (Tevlovs was gone).

2. “Displaced Person”

By mid 1939 however, the situation in Latvia had severely bleakened. On October 5, 1939, Latvia was forced to sign a “mutual assistance” pact with the Soviet Union, which gave the Soviets permission to station 25,000 troops on Latvian territory. On June 16, 1940, The Russians accused the Latvians of violating the terms of their pact. The very next day, the Soviet army took control and occupied Latvia. A rigged election was staged, and a puppet government was put into place. On August 5th, 1940 Latvia was officially annexed by the USSR. Arvids would have seen at least one of his uncle’s entire family deported by Soviet officials who had taken over the government to Siberian gulags (forced labor camps), mostly for being supportive of the Farmer’s Union political party. These families would not return.

With WWII in full-scale, the Germans invaded and occupied Latvia between 1941 and 1944. Compared to the terrors of the Soviet regime, the Germans would have appeared to be the lesser of the two evils to some Latvians. German military forces managed to push the Russian forces back east, and retained control of western Kurzeme in Latvia until mid 1944. Being occupied by Nazi German military forces was actually good news for the Akerfelds/Ziverts, as luck would have it, this allowed them to escape from Latvia before the horrific Soviet regime took control once again.

In early October of 1944, Arvids and the rest of the growing Skrundenieki clan were forced to leave their home and flee west, as the Soviet army made it’s way through Latvia from the east. Both Anna and Katte were pregnant, 7 and 9 months respectively. The clan stopped for a few days in the large, German-occupied port town of Liepaja, where Katte gave birth to the seventh Ziverts child. On October 23, 1944, the German military forcibly evacuated the group to Gotenhafen, a major German-controlled port town that is now known as Gdansk, Poland. Here they were put in a camp for foreign workers, but only for days before being transferred to a gathering camp at Kelsterbach, Germany. Another few days later, in November 1944, the Akerfelds family went to Echzell, Germany, where the men were employed at a sawmill owned by Hermann Mogk III. They were separated from the Ziverts for a while at this time. Here Anna had the twelfth Akerfelds child, and here they stayed until they were liberated by the US Army in July of 1945.

In September of 1945, WWII was officially ended, and in October the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) took on full responsibility for all those who had been displaced by the war. “Displaced Persons” camps were set up all over Europe to house these people until they could be repatriated. At this time, Arvids’ father was employed by the US Army as labourers in Wiesbaden, Germany, presumably helping to rebuild damaged infrastructure in the area. Arvids himself was employed as a labourer by the Wiesbaden DP Camp. The family next found themselves in Bidingen in February of 1946 and Dieburg in May. In October of 1946, Arvids was employed as a lumberjack by the DP Camp in Darmstadt. Here he stayed with his family, his father employed by the US Army once again as a bricklayer until 1947.

3. Belgian Coal Miner

The UNRRA tried to repatriate all displaced persons, but many would not (or could not, depending on your viewpoint) return to their country of origin. Many Latvians, in particular, did not wish to return toLatvia because it was still under Soviet control. Most other countries were reluctant to accept huge numbers of refugees, but on January 23, 1947 the Belgian Government, the US military authorities and the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees established a framework for the resettlement in Belgium of displaced persons currently in the American zone in Germany and guarantee them employment in the Belgian coalmines. Arvids took this opportunity, whether by choice or force I am not sure. He left his family in the DP Camp in Germany and went to Waterschei, (now called Genk) Belgium. The story is that he met his future father-in-law here, but I can’t find proof of this yet, as Karlis Vinakmens was living in Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont and worked in different mines.

He worked in the coal mines until August of 1949 when (for reasons yet unknown to me), he illegally returned to Germany and wound up in the Hanau transit camp. Why he returned to Germany is speculation, but his parents and youngest ten siblings had been cleared for resettlement in the USA in May 1949, and it’s possible he returned to try to go with them, or at least see them off. At Hanau, there was a vocational training centre for displaced persons, but I am unsure if he received any training. He was at Hanau until at least January of 1950. His parents and all siblings, save for his elder brother Arturs, left Germany from the port of Bremerhaven, aboard the SS General Harry Taylor on August 19th, 1950, bound for Berthoud, Colorado. Whether he was able to see them beforehand or not, I do not know.

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, taken from a document recorded upon his return to Germany in 1949

4. Labor Service Days

Arvids was in Germany for the second time from 1950-1957 working for the US Army Labor Service Co.  He was a part of the 7132 LSC, stationed first at Mannheim-Kafertal, Germany, then Ettlingen,Germany at the Rheinland Kaserne. This was a transport unit, and it was tied in closely with the 7566 LSC. More on the 7566 and 7132 LSC here: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/ancestor-story-karlis-vinakmens/

Apparently Arvids’ job with the Labour Service Co at this time involved driving important figures to sports games, meetings, and other events. One of the items in my grandmother’s possession at the time of her death was his German “Furherschein”  like a driver’s license, and a document titled “Reiseausweis” which seems to be some sort of passport, supporting this story. My grandmother also had a lot of photos of Arvids in his Labor Service days. A gallery is here: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/old-photos-labor-service/

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, from his German "Fuhrerschein"

Near the end of his Labor Service days, Arvids was living in close quarters to Karlis Vinakmens, his wife Berta and their 3 daughters. The story is that Karlis Vinakmens asked some sort of refugee authority for some money to purchase a farm, or a large manor house to be used as housing for the LSC men and their families. A large mansion was purchased and split into apartments. While living in such accommodations, Arvids and Karlis’ oldest daughter Rasma fell in love. Sometimes, Arvids would climb out of his apartment’s window to climb onto a balcony that led to Rasma’s window, and they would meet this way.

5. Canada

When the Vinakmens left for resettlement in Canada in 1956, Arvids, who originally had hoped to join his family in Colorado, decided to try and switch his VISA application to Canada instead, to follow Rasma. This took time and he was not able to leave for Canada until the end of January 1957.  In the meantime, during their separation, he and Rasma became engaged inter-continentally, via the mail. Arvids sent Rasma a silver-toned ring with his initials, “A.A.” engraved on it, and he wore one with her initials “R.V.”.

What is really interesting about Arvids’ trip to Canada is that he did not travel on a boat, as was par for course for displaced persons at the time, but on a plane. The money for his ticket was loaned to his future father-in-law Karlis Vinakmens by a Latvian-Canadian man in Kitchener, a family friend named “Kurmis”, which Arvids eventually paid back once he was employed in Canada. http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/lockheed-super-constellation-dalid/

Arvids married Rasma Vinakmens on August 10, 1957, seven months after being reunited with her in Canada. (http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/wedding-wednesday-arvids-martins-akerfelds-and-rasma-lilija-vinakmens/).The pair welcomed their first of three daughters, Irida one year later.

Arvids worked for a company called GenLabor based out of Waterloo, Ontario at first. I believe he was involved with construction for the duration of his stay in Canada, and he was a foreman for MWM construction company at the time of his death in 1982. While on the job, he perished after choking on a piece of celery from his soup he had brought for lunch. The circumstances of his death are sort of shady, it was not just the celery that killed him, he also had an enlarged heart and a few other contributing factors that ultimately led to his death at age 54. Arvids died on April 16, 1982, leaving behind his widow Rasma, and three daughters, ages 23, 15 and 13.

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, c. September 1957 in Kitchener, Ontario

http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/tombstone-tuesday-arvids-and-rasma-akerfelds/

Document: Janis Sedols

I’ve been hitting the documents on Raduraksti hard lately, compiling a database and attempting to connect the dots between baptisms, marriages, deaths and revision lists. I’ve been ignoring posting a little bit I suppose. I’ve been gaining a knowledge of the revision lists and am beginning to understand them better – which is a huge help, because they really do contain a lot of information.

Just to recap – the revision lists were basically lists of inhabitants of estates for tax purposes, almost like a census (the first of which for Latvia came later, in 1897). Usually on an estate, there were anywhere from 5ish to 40+farms, which would be numbered. The inhabitants of each farm were recorded in 1857/1858, 1850, 1835, 1816 and 1811. Not all years have survived for all estates, but the 1857/1858 (10th revision) seems pretty constant between all the estates that I am dealing with, so this is the one I will refer to most for now.

Here’s a revision list that pertains to my great-great-great grandfather Janis Sedols. Janis is the father of Ieva Sedols. According to his marriage record to Madde Strohmann, he was born at “Strebuki” farm, near Kalvene. Without further ado…

Kalna privātmuiža(Berghof) Revision List for Janis Sedols

 

I’ll do my best to transcribe: “hinzugekommen” means “added”, so these people listed above were coming to Berghof (Kalnamuiza) from other estates.

“Wo nach der ordnung der revision list vom jahre 1858 gegenwartig hinzugekommen” = “Where, according to the arrangement of the revision-list from years 1858 presently added” Basically, what farm within the estate are these people now living at.

Tauf, Vater, und Familien-Namen” = “Baptismal, Father’s and Family Name”.

“Von wo hinzugekommen”  the literal translation is “added by where” but I believe it should be “added from where”

The small 4 columns on the right pertain to age.

Alright, so my Janis is at the top of this list. In 1865, he began living at Kalna farm, which in the 1857/1858 revision was designated farm #10. His family number is 13 – families were also given designated numbers in the 1858/1857 revision – there were no Sedols living at Kalnamuiza estate then, but the family number of 13 was given to the “Jansons” family. Whether or not this means Janis was related to the Jansons (there were a ton of Jansons in the area) I have not decided yet. His baptismal and family name are included, but unfortunately they omitted his father’s name (which I believe to be Kristaps anyway, from his marriage record). He came from Kazdangas estate, north and west of Kalnamuiza and is aged 22 years.

His marriage record to Madde Strohmann is found in the Valtaiki Lutheran parish book in the same year – 1865, and their first child, my great-great grandmother Ieva (as well as her brother Janis in 1871) was born in 1869 at Kalnamuiza estate, Jaunzemji farm.

Ideally I would be able to go to the Kazdangas estate revision lists now with this knowledge, and look for Janis, but the books are mostly missing from this estate. Knowing that he was 22 in 1865 mens that I can go back through the Valtaiki Lutheran church books and search for his baptism in 1843ish, but I am not entirely sure I will find it, or if Strebuki/Kalvene inhabitants attended Valtaiki, or if it was a different church.

Wish me luck!

 

Document: Brinkenhof Revision List

Up until recently I had ignored the revision lists (Dvēseļu revīzijas) offered on Raduraksti. Curious about the ownership and history of Skrundenieki farm, I decided to take a stab at  deciphering this unfamiliar resource. These lists are recordings of peasants arriving at and departing from different estates, if they moved. If your particular family did not move around a lot, as I am unsure my Ziverts (Skrundenieki’s owners) did, chances are they will not be found in this resource.

The revision lists are organized by estate, not draudze, pagast, aprinki, novad, rajon…etc. These terms can be a little confusing if you are not very familiar with the geography of our ancestor’s homeland (as was the case for me the first time I tried the use the revision lists). I am now very familiar with the area surrounding Skrundenieki, and know that prior to 1925ish, it was part of what used to be Brinkenhof estate, also known as “Gross Altdorf” in German (Embutes/Amboten lutheran draudze, Brinki/Nikrace/Brinkenhof/Nikrazzen pagast, Aizputes/Hasenpoth aprinki, Vainodes/Wainoden novad, Liepajas rajon, Kurzeme… I know, confusing right?). So I leafed through the Brinkenhof revision list, really just scanning for the Ziverts name in relation to Skrundenieki.

Within a few pages, something caught my eye. An entry for a “Klavs Laure Siewert”. Since I’d already gone through the area’s church books with a fine-toothed comb, I am already familiar with this Klavs Siewert. He married Lina Grinbergs in 1881 at Embute lutheran church, and they had a daughter named Mathilde Emilie Wilhelmine Siewert in 1882 at Nodaggen estate (I have yet to figure out what that name is in modern Latvian). Also notable from the church books: living at Nodaggen simultaneously at that time as well was an Ernest Siewert, his wife Marija and their son Karlis.

But back to the revision list. In 1883, Klavs, Lina and their daughter Matilde left Nodaggen and moved to Brinkenhof estate. The lists divide men on one side (left), and women on the other (right). Here is their recording:

(click to enlarge) Brinkenhof Revision List from 1883

I can’t make out the large block of text beside Klav’s entry, but most of it looks to be talking about how he came to Gross Altdorf in 1883 and left from Nodaggen estate. He was born December 12, 1841 (and as fate would have it, 1842 is where the Embute church books end..). he was 42 at the time of the move…. and if you notice, it lists his wife Lina as only 21 years of age (and daughter Matilde 1 year old). With such an age gap, was Lina Klav’s second wife?

What really attracted me to Klav’s record is that my own ancestors – Indriks Ziverts and Jule Dzerve – named their first born son Klavs Jeannot, and one of his godparents is listed as Klavs Jeannot, who is listed as the owner of the farm they lived on (Skrundenieki). Some of the text beside this inscription in the younger Klavs’ baptism either points to the fact that the older Klavs, the same one listed in the revision list above, is either the father of Indriks Ziverts, or his uncle. I can’t tell which, because Indriks and Jule named their second son Peteris Ziverts, and one of his godparents is Peteris Ziverts, with the same inscription. Both uncles? When did these Siewerts come to Brinkenhof estate? There are no other Siewerts in Brinkenhof’s revision list history.

Also, I discovered that Skrundenieki is much older than I had suspected, existing at least as early as 1811 under the same name.

More to come, as I learn to decipher these records…

How can you use the revision lists to learn about your family? Check out this article on how to use them at Celmina.com

Amanuensis Monday: On Repatriation

One of the questions asked by the International Refugee Organization of people displaced by WWII was “Do you wish to return to your country of former residence?” For most Latvians, the answer was no. Not because they did not wish to return home, but because “home” was now occupied and controlled by communist Russia, a regime they had seen destroy their families and friends, more merciless than the German Nazi’s had been. Most certainly a resistance fighter like Karlis Vinakmens, or a German collaborator like his little brother Fricis, could not imagine returning home, as the Soviets would have persecuted them immediately, likely with fatal results. The Akerfelds and Ziverts families had seen brothers and uncles, along with their wives and children heartlessly arrested for no good reason, to be deported to Siberia and die slowly of exposure. 

Most Latvian families wished to immigrate to Canada, the USA, Australia, and even Argentina is recorded on one IRO application I’ve seen. It seems they were not sure where to go, did not care, so long as it was not part of communist USSR.

A snippet from Arturs Ziverts' IRO Application form

Do you wish to return to your country of former residence?” – “Nein” (No)

“If not, why?” – “Weil heimat eisenheim von USSR okkupier. Herscht kommunistische diktatur und terror. Ein bruder getoete und andere nach sibierien deportien” (Because my home country is occupied by the USSR. The government is a communist dictatorship. One brother was killed and nother was deported to Siberia)

Every one of my family members’ IRO applications says the same things: Arvids Akerfelds’ simply states “Political Reasons”, Fricis Vinakmens’ says “I do not like to live under present communist regime”.

After being caught between two great warring world powers in WWII, Latvia had held out hope that the Allied victory would mean the USSR agreeing to recognize their sovereignty. They had hoped that the Allies would restore free independant Latvia. This was not the case, for Latvia and other Soviet-occupied countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, etc) who would remain under Soviet control until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Akerfelds Puzzle Pieces

There are more Akerfelds out there than just descendants of Janis and Anna. There is a family branch that ended up in New York, who originated in Nikrace pagasts. There is another branch that made it to Australia after WWII, who lived in Skrunda during the 30’s, but moved to Nikrace by 1941, with the death of the father of the family. Another branch is still in Latvia in the Skrunda region today.

My theory is that all Akerfelds came from one patriarch, possibly named Kristaps. I believe that my particular ancestor Jekabs had brothers, who all the other Akerfelds descended from. Proving that with documentation is quite a challenge as it stands. The names “Jekabs”, “Ernests”, “Kristaps” and “Ieva” are prominent in all the Akerfelds families I have found so far. Mind you they’re fairly common names, but in conjunction with all the other coincidences, it is just too much to ignore.

Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols were parents to my two well-known Akerfelds ancestors, Janis and Katte, but also had 3 other children: 2 sons and 1 daughter. The daughter, named Anna, wouldn’t have passed on her Akerfelds name to her children, but the two sons would have. Their son Martins only had one child before his death in Siberia, but it was a daughter, so she would not have passed on the Akerfelds surname to her children. Their son Ernests, on the other hand, probably had children at some point, and would have passed his Akerfelds name on to them. Unfortunately for me, I can find no more record of this Ernests besides his baptism though. Ernests was the eldest son of Jekabs Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols, and his godparents were Ernests and Annlise Akerfelds (more about this couple below).

Other Akerfelds Families:

In the 1935 Latvian census, there is a Mikelis Akerfelds recorded, born in 1897 living with his wife Elizabete and their son Arnolds at Muizaraji farm in Nikrace. Being that he was born a year prior to my Janis, we will say they are of the same generation, could be brothers or cousins. The farm owner is named Anna Vainovskis, a widow and her daughter who were living there as well. In the 1941 Census however, the farm passed in ownership to Mikelis, and the Vainovskis are gone. This family comes to light again in 1949, when the Soviet government deported them to Siberia.

In the 1935 census, a widow named Marija Akerfelds (nee Rabovics) lived with her two sons Andrejs and Ermanis and her brother at “Pulvernieki” farm in Nikrace. By 1941, Marija and Andrejs are gone, but Ermanis is listed at Zoslenu majas, working as a farm worker. Andrejs immigrated to New York, and his family is still there today. Marija was born in 1899, so you could assume her deceased husband would be born around that same time as her. Again, in my Janis’ generation. Was it Janis’ brother Ernests? Another unknown brother?

In the Embute draudze church book, an Ernest Akerfelds married an Ieva Hase in 1887. It would be safe to assume Ernests was 20-25 years old at the time, so born around 1865. Not my Janis’ generation, but Janis’ father Jekabs generation. Ernests and Ieva baptised a daughter named Annlise in 1887 in Brinkenhof, at a farm I can best translate as Lappe? In the same year, 1887, Ieva passed away (childbirth complications?) and at age 7 weeks, daughter Annlise also passed away, all within the same year. One year later, in 1888, an Ernests Akerfelds married an Annlise Grinbergs. The same Ernests? Likely. Ernests and Annlise had 5 children: Kristaps, in 1888 at Kaupe farm in Lieldzelda, Jekabs in 1890 and Mikelis in 1893 at Rusi farm in Lieldzelda, Ernests in 1895 at Pluini farm in Rudbarzi, and in 1897 they had a stillborn child, and at this time they are recorded as living in Skrunda. Interestingly, this Akerfelds family also goes by both Akerfelds and Grinbergs, much like my own. This Ernests and Annlise are named as godparents of my Jekabs and Ieva’s first son, Ernests. I feel a connection here is definitely probable.

Also according to the Embute church books, there is a Lotte Akerfelds/Grinbergs who had two illegitimate children, Annlise in 1896 and Ernests in 1902, both at Sudmalkalns farm in Lieldzelda. Of course, the same Ernests and Annlise mentioned above are godparents to these children as well.

In 1898 a Kristaps Akerfelds (Hakerfeld) alias Grinbergs married Trine Skonpasts. However, no baptismal records of children were found for these two, and a burial record in 1899 shows a Kristaps Hakerfeld died at age 33 that year. The same Kristaps Hakerfeld?

In 1898 an Ernests Akerfelds married Madde Storke in Skrunda, but the Embute church book also recorded this marriage. Why is the marriage listed in Embute if it occurred in Skrunda? Is this the same Ernests as was married to Annlise, since their last child was born in Skrunda? Did Annlise pass away in the childbirth of their stillborn child, leaving Ernests to marry a third wife? Ernests and Madde had Karlis Akerfelds born in 1904 and Janis Akerfelds born in 1900,  both also born in Skrunda pagast at Gruvens farm, but also recorded in Embute.

Far enough back in the church book, an Eichenfelds family shows up. I must note that “Akerfelds” in German can be and is spelled “Hackerfeld” , “Hakenfeld”, “Hagenfeld” and other variations of the like, so comparing Eichenfelds is not a huge stretch. This Eichenfelds family’s patriarch was named Kristaps, and his wife was Marija. They had a daughter named Ieva in 1871 at Sprosti farm in Lieldzelda, but she was buried the same year. They also had a son named Ernests born in 1873 at Rusi farm in Lieldzelda, but he also perished the following year. That’s all the book has on the Eichenfelds, although it should be noted that the books from the 60’s are missing from Embute draudze. If Kristaps was having children in 1871, one could assume he was born around 1848. Is this the grand daddy patriarch of all the Akerfelds? Perhaps when the naming process occurred, he ended up with the surname of Grinbergs, but in order to differentiate himself from the other Grinbergs (which Embute draudze has in plenty), he chose to go by “alias Akerfelds”, as was common to do.

Lastly, the Australians. Ieva Akerfelds (nee Gaul) was born September 19, 1893 in Skrunda pagasts. She married a Kristaps Akerfelds and bore him four children before he died at an early age (after 1925, but before 1941 for sure). It can be assumed that Kristaps was of similar age to Ieva, so we will say c. 1893. This puts him in the same generation as my Janis, just a few years older. In 1941, a widowed Ieva and her youngest two children, Janis Alberts and Alma Emilija Akerfelds moved to Nikrace pagast and lived at “Mazvarmsate” farm. They are recorded here in the 1941 Latvian Census. Why go to Nikrace after the death of the husband/father? To be near his family for help or work?

There are two more puzzle pieces, another Mikelis Akerfelds born in 1893 in Nikrace, son of Ernests and Annlise, and an Ernests Akerfelds, born in 1905 in Nikrace, son of Alberts. I will go into further depth with them at a later date.

http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/mystery-monday-ernests-akerfelds/

Ancestor Story: Karlis and the Three Armies

I’m trying to prove the family story that Karlis Vinakmens had been in 3 different armies within 20 years. I am making a little headway as I begin to understand the history of these armies. My mother remembers Karlis saying that if he ever returned to Latvia, he would be killed immediately.

The clue that sparked this challenge is the picture above. The pictures here are said to have been taken in 1934, 1944 and 1954, in the Latvian, German and American armies, with the cross in the middle as a military award.

In Karlis’ International Refugee Organization (IRO) application form, it is clear that something is written about his time as both a Latvian Naval Aviator and as part of the Latvian resistance movement. There is also a section listing his personal documents he had with him in Germany, clearly saying something from the Latvian Resistance movement, and Lettland Luftwaffe Division (Latvian Airforce Division).

Can you decipher the German text about Karlis’ residences? “Im Walde…”

Can you decipher the German text about Karlis’ employment? “Im Walde….”

Can you decipher the German text about Karlis’ documents? “Lettland …Luftwaffe Division… Chief of the Latvian Resistance Movement”

Also as proof of his time in the Latvian Resistance is his listing in an article by the Latvian President’s history commission in 2006, written by Uldis Neiburgs “Association of the Participants of the Latvian Resistance Movement (LPKDA) and Its Documentation about the Resistance Movement in Nazi-Occupied Latvia (1941–1945)” (sidenote: I added this document on the sidebar as a searchable database, for anyone else’s reference).

For the American army bit, Karlis was employed with the Labor Service Co. This is proven in his IRO application form as well and is not much of a mystery.

The German army is the most difficult for me to prove. My best guesses are that he was either: conscripted by the German army during the Nazi occupation, OR he eventually surrendered to the German army near the end of his Resistance Movement days in order to serve the best interests of his wife and daughters, OR he worked for the German army as a displaced person while in Germany. The only possibly concrete evidence of this I have come across is on one of Karlis’ 2 DP Cards, his occupation is “bildhauer” and his other occupation is “ ”C” CO. 30 INF.” which seems to be a listing of an army infantry unit. Whether this is the German one or not I don’t know yet, it could be any army as far as I know at this point. Searching for this kind of information is proving to be a little difficult!

What army is this snippet from Karlis’ DP Card referring to?

Amanuensis Monday: Martins Akerfelds

A search for “Akerfeld” at this collection of historical Latvian periodicals (here: http://www.periodika.lv) will yield two results, both regarding Martins Akerfelds (b. 1902 in Tomsk), son of Jekabs (Martins is my great-great uncle). Note that if you are curious as to why I searched for “Akerfeld” and not “Akerfelds”, it is because in Latvian, surnames end in either masculine or feminine forms – “s” at the end of a name is masculine eg. “Akerfelds”, and “e” or “a” at the end of a name is feminine eg. “Akerfelde”, “Ozolina”. When you drop the defining ending, you effectively search for both male, female, or whatever other suffixes might be attached (as is common in the Latvian language). Other This is the same Martins listed in “These Names Accuse” deported to Siberia where he died after 2 years in the gulags, probably for his work in the Aizsargi and for the fact that he owned his own farm (named “Jaunzemjos”, which was adjacent to Skrundenieki).

(click to enlarge) An excerpt from Jaunākās Ziņas published on Wednesday, May 13, 1936

This article above is an excerpt from “Jaunākās Ziņas” (“Latest News”), a Latvian periodical published on Wednesday, May 13, 1936. This contains a list of Aizsargi men who were given awards of merit at an event for Aizsargi. The Aizsargi were comparable to policemen at the time. The beginning paragraph states:

“Aizsargu organizacijas apbalvosanas komisijas sede kura piedalijas komisijas priekssedis, aizsargu prieksneiks K. Prauls, locekli – 7. Valkas aizsargi pulka komandieris K. Briedis, 11 Tukuma Aizsargi. Komandieris Karklins, 16 Jelgavas Aizsargi. Komandieris A. Ausmanis, 18 Daugavpils Aizsargi. Komandieris Silauss un sekretars – referents – aizsargu staba organacijas dalas prieksnieks llll nolemts apbalvot sakara at Tautas vienibas svetkiem 15 maija par nopelniem valsts aizsardzibas darbas ar.”

In English:

“The Aizsargi Organization Awards Committee meeting, which was attended by the chairman of the commissionm guard K. Prauls: a member of the 7 Valkas Aizsargi regiment, K. Briedis: a member of the 11 Tukums Aizsargi, Commander Karklins of the 16 Jelgava Aizsargi, Commander A. Ausmanis of the 18 Daugavpils Aizsargi. Commander Silauss and secretary decided to award the following men for their work merits on May 15th, 1936.”

You will see Martins Akerfelds, member of Aizputes aprinki, Nikraces pagasts.  No. 6 under “Ar medalu “Par centibu”” (“Awards for diligence)”.

(click to enlarge) An excerpt from "Valdības Vēstnesis

Above is an excerpt from the Latvian periodical “Valdības Vēstnesis” (“Government Gazette”) published September 6, 1937.

Zinojums par izsniegto zaudejumu atlidzibu par sergu del nogalinatiem un sergas kritusiem lopiem 1937. g. julija
30. Aizputes aprinki, Nikraces pagast, Jaunzemjos farm Martins Akerfelds par liellopu jauna karsona del gala nokauto teli jaunlopu. 20,—“

In English:

“Report on the compensation issued by the government for cattle that have been lost to disease in July 1937
30. Aizputes aprinki, Nikraces pagast, Jaunzemjos farm Martins Akerfelds lost one heifer and one young cow. 20 lats compensation”

I will write about two more articles regarding Martins:

The above excerpt is from a book outlining those missing after the Soviet deportations.

Akerfelds, Martins. Born in 1902 in Tomsk guberniya (region), Russia. Arrested: June 14, 1941. Accused of being a member of the Peasant’s Union (agrarian political party) and a Commander in the local Aizsargi. Case no. P-5604″

This last excerpt is from a book outlining those missing after the Soviet deportations as well.

“Akerfelds, Martins. Son of Jekabs, born in 1902. Living at Jaunzemji farm. Arrested June 14, 1941. Died in Kirov region, Vyatlag camp on May 17, 1943. Case No. 16441, P-5604

Akerfelds, Anna. Daughter of Janis, born in 1895. Living at Jaunzemji farm. Arrested June 14, 1941. Released from Krasnojarsk, Manas region on September 11, 1947. Case No. 16441

Akerfelds, Skaidrite. Daughter of Martins, born in 1937. Living at Jaunzemji farm. Arrested June 14, 1941. Released from Krasnojarsk, Manas region on October 15, 1946. Case No. 16441″

Roadblock: Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis

Mikelis Veisbergs (Weissberg) and Line Brugis (Brugge) were married in 1883 at Rezekne Lutheran church. Since they were married in December 1882, it could be assumed that at that time they were in their early 20’s, so they were probably born around 1860-1865.  

Unfortunately for me, there are no Lutheran church records for Rezekne past 1870. Whether or not this is due to the church books being destroyed or damaged, there not being Lutheran church in the predominantly Orthodox city of Rezekne at the time (I don’t know if there was or not), I don’t know. Perhaps there is some smaller parish church that they attended prior to Rezekne’s Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran church being built.

Veisbergs is latvianized from German “Weissberg” – White hills or mountains. I have scanned all available Rezekne Lutheran church books and not found another Weissberg. Brugis however, are plentiful, suggesting that they were probably well-established in Rezekne and had been there for multiple generations. Perhaps some of the Brugis clan may have belonged to a different church, and a clue could be found there. Until I know where to look, this couple is a roadblock!

Marriage record of Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis, 1882 Rezekne Lutheran church (No. 15)

(click to enlarge) Marriage record of Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis, 1882 Rezekne Lutheran church (No. 15)

Sunday’s Obituary: Zigurds Melderis

Zigurds “Ziggy” Melderis

Date of Birth: Friday, October 4th, 1929

Date of Death: Friday, March 10th, 2006

 Passed away peacefully on Friday, March 10, 2006 at West Parry Sound Health Centre at the age of 76.

Beloved husband of the late Aija (Latuns) Melderis who passed away in 1994. Loving father of Andy Melderis and his wife Carol. Ziggy will be dearly missed by his special friend Rasma.

Ziggy was born October 4, 1929 in Latvia. A long time resident of Kitchener, he retired as foreman from Warren Bitulithic Ltd. after 34 years of dedicated service. In 1990 he moved with his wife and mother, Vilma, to their home on the lake in Parry Sound to enjoy his many hobbies.

Ziggy’s family will receive friends at the Henry Walser Funeral Home, 507 Frederick St., Kitchener (749-8467) on Monday from 7-9 p.m. and on Tuesday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A funeral service for Ziggy will be held in the funeral home chapel on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at 2 PM. Interment will take place at Parkview Cemetery, followed by a reception.

As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated by the family (cards available at the funeral home). Visit http://www.obitsforlife.com/obituary/113894/Melderis-Zigurds.php for Ziggy’s memorial.

Zigurds Melderis and his wife Aija, at what appears to be some kind of Christmas party in Germany. Aija is wearing the plaid skirt and Zig is next to her with the child in his lap. Arvids Akerfelds and presumably Rasma Vinakmens are seated across the table.

Zig was a close family friend to my grandmother and grandfather. It seems to be that he probably served in the US Army Labor Service Co. with my grandfather Arvids in Germany. I’m not entirely sure what town in Latvia he hailed from, but I believe he may have been a family friend even earlier than the Labor Service days.

He was born October 4, 1929 to Andrejs Melderis and Vilma Riekstins (“Melderis” means “Miller” and “Riekstins” means “little nuts”. He married Aija Latuns and immigrated to Canada after WWII. My grandmother Rasma went to live with Zig in Parry Sound in the late 1990’s, both being widowers. Zig was a wonderful man and I enjoyed many visits to his home in Parry Sound before his death from cancer in 2006, a year before my grandmother would also pass away from cancer.

His mother Vilma lived almost as long as he did – she was 102 years old at the time of her death in 2004(http://obitsforlife.com/obituary/114745/Melderis-Vilma.php), and was still healthy enough to have been living with Zig in Parry Sound until only a few months before her death, I believe.

Zigurds Melderis, Arvids Akerfelds and Karlis Vinakmens, enjoying brewing their own beer here in Kitchener, Ontario

Top: Vilma Riekstins, Berta Ozolins and Karlis Vinakmens. Bottom: Zigurds Melderis, Aija Latuns, Arvids Akerfelds and Rasma Vinakmens, in Kitchener, Ontario.