Old Photo: Karlis’ Aviation Wings

Not being a military buff in the least, I first looked past the hints and tips to Karlis’ military story. Looking harder for clues, I noticed his insignia in the below picture, and set out to learn what these meant.

The top one is an eagle, typically used  in many different countries for Air Force units. My search first upturned a plethora of German Nazi Luftwaffe eagle insignia, the same eagle, but with a swastika in it’s grasp, facing the opposite direction. But Karlis’ eagle doesn’t appear to be holding a swastika. With a little more digging I came across THIS website. So he was part of the Latvian Navy! I guess that explains his uniform! A naval aviator.

The second insignia pictured up there turned up THIS website.

A sniper as well! If this picture truly was taken in 1934, he was only 20 years old. Again, not much of a military buff myself, but these are some fairly exciting puzzle pieces!
Note that his picture was taken at K. Levinson’s photo studio in Liepaja. There was a large naval base at Liepaja.
A LINK to a site devoted to historic Latvian aviation:
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Places of Interest: Skrundenieki

Farmsteads in Latvia were given names, much like some farms you might find in the Canadian countryside today (Green Acres, Mapleview Farms, etc). The names were chosen in a similar way as well. They were named after nearby surroundings, people, type of farming, etc.

“Skrundenieki” was a farmstead in modern-day Nikrace pagast, olden-time Brinkenhof/Gross Altdorf estate located in the Aizpute district of the province of Kurzeme. The name means “people from Skrunda”, Skrunda being the largest nearby city. (Possibly a clue that the original owners were from Skrunda? I have yet to prove.) It was listed as “vecsaimnieciba” or old, established farm on the census form of 1935, and was spring-fed. The farm existed since at least the early 1800′s and probably even earlier.

My great-great grandfather Indriks Ziverts owned Skrundenieki at one point. The earliest I can prove his residence there is 1894. The baptism of his first child has he and his family recorded as residing there. During Latvia’s independence in the 1920′s, laws were passed that allowed Latvian peasants to purchase property much more easily, and it is perfectly possible that this is when Indriks would have become the owner of Skrundenieki.

Prior to 1925, Nikrace as a pagast did not exist, and the area was known as Brinki, from the nearby Brinkenhof manor/estate. (Side note: the old building that was Brinkenhof manor is currently for sale)

The residents of Nikrace attended Embute parish Lutheran church, (now in ruins) and the children would have attended Nikrace pamatskola (elementary school). At least 3 generations of my Latvian ancestors lived at Skrundenieki. My great-grandfather, Arturs Zīverts inherited the farm after his father Indriks passed, and most of his children were born there as he was. In October of 1944, as WWII ripped through Latvia, Arturs and family were forced to abandon Skrundenieki in order to flee for safety.

Nikrace pagast was subsequently savaged by the Soviets, and they constructed a nuclear missile silo and bunker there. (Pictures of the Soviet structures)

It should be noted that place names in Latvia typically have a German counterpart, or “exonym”. Depending on the time period of a document you may come across, you might find the German version, or a Russian Cyrillic translation of the German name.