I just stumbled across this blog by accident. This man walked across Latvia from east to west, and happened to go right through the Akerfelds/Ziverts home county. Check out some of his pictures and read his tale! Nikrace and Embute are between Nigrande and Priekule.
The USS General Langfitt was built in 1944 by Kaiser Co. Inc. in Richmond, California and named after General William Campbell Langfitt. She was first used during the war to transport American troops. By the time she was inactivated on September 30, 1957, she had travelled all over the world, a people carrier dropping off refugees, troops, veterans, in all corners of the globe. She sat as part of the US National Defense’ reserve fleet for a while, then was sold in 1968 and used as a container vessel, renamed SS Transindiana. The SS Transindiana was scrapped in 1983 in Brownsville, Texas.
Arturs Ziverts and his family (except for his sisters, Ida and Olga, his mother Jule and his daughter Irma) left Bremerhaven, Germany aboard the USS General Langfitt on March 19, 1950 bound for Berthoud, Colorado.
A closer look at Arvids’ IRO Application Form (which was written in pencil and is quite hard to read. tells me he may have been in the 7318 Latvian Labor Service Corps. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything about this particular unit… I think it is a misspelling of 7132.
The writing at the bottom may provide some clue as to why he returned to Germany illegally from Belgium as well… but it is barely legible.
According to one of my listed resources on the Labor Service, the following were Latvian units:
8252 LS Co (Engr Const) LATVIAN Bad Nauheim (Janis Akerfelds)
8717 LS Co (Engr Const) LATVIAN Großauheim
8850 LS Co (Engr Const) LATVIAN Großauheim (Arturs Ziverts)
7132 LS Co (Engr Const) LATVIAN Mannheim (Arvids Akerfelds)
7566 LS Co (Engr Dump Trk) LATVIAN Mannheim (Karlis Vinakmens)
8361 LS Co (Engr Const) LATVIAN Mannheim
While I’m on an unusual military kick here, I thought I’d mention that Arvids’ uncle Arturs Ziverts’ family was close by the Akerfelds during the 1945-1950 time period as displaced persons. The Ziverts family consisted of Arturs Ziverts and his wife Katte (nee Akerfelds), their 7 children, Arturs’ two sisters Ida and Olga, and his mother, Jule Dzerve. It seems that Arturs and his second-eldest son Voldemars (the same age as Arvids) also found some employment with the US Forces as the Akerfelds did (although not the Labor Service).
They too went the Liepaja-Gotenhaufen-Kelsterbach route like the Akerfelds, but in November of 1944 when the Akerfelds went to Echzell, Hesse, the Ziverts wound up in Friedberg (also in the state of Hesse) in a forced labor camp. The name of the employer that Arturs worked for was “Conter & Braun”. They worked here at this camp until April of 1945, when they were liberated by the US Army. Once liberated, Arturs and Voldemars were employed by the US Army Tank Divison as labourers. (A note of interest is that when Elvis Presley served in the American Army a decade later, he was stationed in Friedberg at the Ray Barracks), and lived in nearby Bad Nauheim.
Then in July of 1945, they moved to Wiesbaden, Hesse, where the two were employed again as laborers by the US 89 Air Forces Division.
After Wiesbaden, the Ziverts were reunited with the Akerfelds in Bidingen/Dieburg/Darmstadt. Arturs was a general labourer at the first two, and a bricklayer in Darmstadt (like his brother-in-law Janis Akerfelds) In May 1948, Arturs worked for the 8850 Latvian Labor Service as a carpenter.
The Ziverts (Save for Ida, Olga, Irma and Jule Dzerve) left Germany from the port of Bremerhaven, sailing on the SS General Langfitt on March 19, 1950 bound for Berthoud, Colorado.
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.