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.

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)

Mystery Monday: Akerfelds in Tomsk

Currently I’m emailing back and forth with someone in Russia about old church records from Tomsk. The email address I obtained by posting a query on http://genforum.genealogy.com/. I’m hoping that Jekabs and Ieva Akerfelds baptised their son Martins in Tomsk in 1902, (and possibly even my great-grandfather Janis) leaving behind some records. They were Lutheran in Latvia, but chances are a Lutheran church did not exist in Siberian Tomsk at the time, so I’m banking on at least some form of Protestant church being located there, in a mainly Orthodox country.

Obviously, English being my only fluent language, speaking Russian (a language that even uses a different alphabet all together) is not my forte. I seem to get by with the aid of Google Translate, (as crude as that is). Google Translate seems to be pretty easy to use for Russian, as long as you stay away from using any sort of slang and keep to your point. I am also lucky enough to work with a man who speaks Russian, so every now and then I ask him to get me through any difficult translations. I am to the point where I can look at a word written in Cyrillic and sound it out, but that knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet is about as far as I get, without a good grasp on the actual Russian language.

This Russian contact of mine is very quick to respond, usually in one business day, although the email comes over night, since Tomsk is pretty much literally on the other side of the world.

Wish me luck that this Russian resource turns up some Akerfelds evidence! Maybe a clue to what exactly they were doing in Siberia!

Document: Fricis Ozolins?

I may or may not have found Fricis Ozolins’ baptism record. It’s hard to put all your eggs in one basket when searching for a common surname in a large parish, but my reasons for believing that this might actualy be my Fricis are:

1. While there are a slew of Ozols, Ozolins families are relatively few in Talsi. I have turned up 5 couples who were bearing children during the specified time period. Only one Fricis baptised.

2. The record is from 1883. This would make Fricis 31 at the time Berta was born. This seems to jive with my guess that Berta was somewhere in the middle of the birth order of her 6 siblings. If he was born in 1883, he could have easily have been 24-25 when he was married, bringing us to 1906ish… which we have no records for.

3. No other Fricis Ozolins to be found… Mind you, just because Berta was born in Talsi does not mean her parents both were. I wish Talsi had records up until 1909 like Tukums!

(click to enlarge) A baptism for a Fricis Ozolins

No. 105. Fritz, born on April 6, 1883 (baptised the same day) at Luick Remmess(sp?), son of Janne Ohsolin (can’t quite make out his occupation) and his wife Lawihse, both Lutheran. Godparents are wirt Ans Wachstein, of Luick Remmess, Ehwart Jakobsons (same occupation as Janne Ohsolin), and Marri Wachstein, madchen.

Document: Talsi Church Books 1900-1905

I’ve begun combing the Talsi lutheran church books for Ozols-Ozolins families (and in doing so, am effectively putting off the task of going through the much larger Tukums books). Ozols and Ozolins are the surnames I am hunting, and this is no easy task, since both are quite common. I started working backwards from 1905 down. I’m at 1900, and so far I’ve found Ozols, Ozolins, and Ozollaps surnames. Ozols seems to be the most common, and I have put together several different Ozols families who were having children in this time period, as expected. I must happily note that I have only found one Ozolins family so far.
I am searching for Fricis Ozolins, his wife Mathilde Ozols, their daughters Milda, Velta, Lilija and Berta, and 2 sons, of whom I don’t know names yet. Sometimes this family went by Ozols-Ozolins, combining their mother’s and father’s surnames. I don’t believe Fricis and Mathilde were married prior to 1905, so chances are I will not find one of their children’s baptismal records. The best I can hope for is to try and find their own baptismal records… And hope that there aren’t multiple Fricis Ozolins and Mathilde Ozols baptised in the area at the same time…
So far though, I have noted the popularity of the name Mathilde in the area, and also Bertus or Berts for a man. The names here seem to be a little more inventive than the Janis, Ievas, Annas and Jekabs of the less urban Embute/Gramzdas/Valtaiki areas (although of course those are prevalent as well).
Onward…

Document: The 1941 Census of Latvia

In 1935 and 1941, Latvia took a census. The one conducted in 1941 yields much useful vital information about persons listed. It is important to note that it was conducted after the Soviet mass deportations of June that year.

This is the 1941 census listing of Emilija Veisbergs, and her youngest children Alise and Fricis. They were living at 11 Talsu iela, Tukums. I honestly can’t remember where I got this document (frustrating, I know!) Again… WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN, INCLUDING WHERE YOU GOT DOCUMENTS FROM! Woops… Anyways, I will transcribe below…

(click to enlarge) inhabitants of Talsu iela 11, Tukums (1941)

Family # 7

Name: Vinakmens, Fricis/Gender: male/Born: May 19, 1921 in Tukums/Ethnicity: Latvian/Religion: Evangelical Lutheran/Occupation: “galdnieka māceklis”(His IRO application years later states that he was a mechanic at this time, but the translation of this text is “tablemaker’s apprentice”, “pie Jelnieka” might be referring to the name of the master tablemaker he worked for)/When moved to residence: March 1, 1940

Name: Vinakmens, Alise/Gender: female/Born: November 29, 1916 in Russia/Ethnicity: Latvian/Religion: Evangelical Lutheran/Occupation: “Apkalpotāja “Vecā aptiekā” (A clerk at the “Old Pharmacy”{likely a business or store name})/When moved to residence: March 1, 1940

Name: Vinakmens, Emilija/Gender: female/Born: 1885 in Rezekne/Ethnicity: Latvian/Religion: Evangelical Lutheran/Occupation:”majsaimniciba” (housekeeper)/When moved to residence: March 1, 1940

I have gotten a peek at 1941 census records for the Akerfelds/Ziverts clan as well, but they were sent to me already transcribed by someone who had visited the archives in Latvia for me:

 

Census 1941

Aizputes aprinki Nikrace town / pagasts
Address Nikrace pag.
House name Skundunieku majas
Owner Ziverts Arturs
Apartments 5
Nr of residents 24
1. Ziverts, Arturs/Born: 1901.XI.15 Nikrace pag/Occupation: Farmer/In residence from: 1901.XI.15
2 Ziverts, Katte/Born: 1904.XII.13 Nikraces pag/Occupation: Farmer/In residence from: 1924.IV.23
3. Ziverts, Alberts/Born: 1926.V.7 Nikraces pag/Occupation: school student/In residence from: 1926.V.7
4 Ziverts, Voldemārs/Born: 1927.X.28 Nikraces pag/Occupation: school student /In residence from: 1927.X.28
5 Ziverts, Irma/Born: 1931.III.21 Nikraces pag/Occupation: school student /In residence from: 1931.III.21
6 Ziverts, Velta /Born: 1933.VII.17 Nikraces pag/In residence from: 1933.VII.17
7 Ziverts, Skaidrite/Born: 1934.XI.17 Nikraces pag/In residence from: 1934.XI.17
8 Ziverts, Karlis/Born: 1940.III.2 Nikraces pag/In residence from: 1940.III.2
9 Ziverts, Jule/Born: 1877.XII.29 Purmsati pag/In residence from: 1895.VI.18
10 Ziverts, Ida /Born:1919.III.13 Nikraces pag/Occupation: worker /In residence from: 1919.II.13
11 Ziverts, Olga /Born: 1915.VIII.10 Nikraces pag/Occupation: worker/In residence from: 1919.II.13
12 Blažgis, Ieva/Born: 1869.I.30 Sieksates pag/In residence from: 1924.IV.23
13 Akerfelds, Janis/Born: 1898.IX.23 Nikraces pag/Occupation: Farm worker/In residence from: 1922.IV.23
14 Akerfelds, Anna/Born: 1906.XII.14 Nikraces pag Occupation: Farmer/In reisdence from: 1906.XII.14
15 Akerfelds, Arturs /Born: 1925.VIII.20 Nikraces pag /Occupation: school student/In residence from: 1925.VIII.20
16 Akerfelds, Arvids/Born: 1927.IX.30 Nikraces pag/Occupation: school student/In reisdence from: 1927.IX.30
17 Akerfelds, Elvina/Born: 1929.IV.12 Nikraces pag/Occupation: school student/In residence from: 1929.IV.12
18 Akerfelds, Arijs/Born: 1930.IX.30 Nikraces pag/ Occupation: school student /In residence from: 1930.IX/30
19 Akerfelds, Ludmila/Born: 1932.III.20 Nikraces pag/In reisdence from: 1932.III.20
20 Akerfelds, Alfons/Born: 1933.VI.28 Nikraces pag/In residence from: 1933.VI.28
21 Akerfelds, Alberts/Born: 1935.III.7 Nikraces pag/In residence from: 1935.III.7
22 Akerfelds, Arnolds/Born: 1936.XII.31 Nikrace pag/In residence from: 1936.XII.31
23 Akerfelds, Skaidritie/Born: 1939.I.7 Nikraces pag/In residence from: 1939.I.7
24 Akerfelds, Aivars/Born: 1940.IV.11 Nikraces pag/ In reisdence from: 1940.IV.11

I wonder if that Family Search Centre I mentioned before can give me access to these censuses in more detail…. hmm…

*Special thanks to Antra Celmins for deciphering the Latvian in the Vinakmens census!*