The Dzerves

Jule Dzerve's baptismal record in the Gramzdas Lutheran church book

Born December 29, 1877 and baptized January 6  1878, No.2: Dzenija Jule Ida, daughter of Purmsati estate jungen Jukums Dzerve and his wife Lavize. Baptized by pastor Stegmann at Gramzdas church. Witnesses: widow Jule Dzerve, maiden Lize Muceniece, and jungen Janis Hilsen.

Jule Dzerve was my 2x great grandmother. Her parents were Jukums Dzerve and Lawise Bittner, who were married in Gramzdas draudze that same year. They lived at Purmsati estate, one that had a German baron who was particularily disliked by his peasants, wo complained that he taxed them too harshly. Surnames amongst the peasants were only used loosely even into the 1850’s. There is a small gap in records at Grazmda from 1854-1861, and this is the time I believe both Jukums and Lavize were born, so unfortauntely I have not found their parents names yet. Dzerve is a name associated with Purmsati estate since the beginning of surnames, while Bitners I believe has roots at nearby Gavieze estate.

No. 12, March 1877 Jukums Dzerve married Lavize Bitnere


Ancestor Story: Arvids’ Labor Service

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.

A snippet from Arvids Akerfelds' IRO Application Form

A snippet from Arvids Akerfelds’ IRO Application Form

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

Old Photo: Karlis in the Labor Service


This picture is of Karlis Vinakmens, c. 1954 in Germany. The uniform he is wearing is typical of the US Army Labour Service Co at the time. You can just barely make out his shoulder badge.

Although it is impossible to discern which of these two the patch is, it was quite likely one of the two pictured above. The unit I know he was a part of, the 7566 LS Co, was indeed a Latvian unit.

The other insignia that stands out is the triangular one above the flower. It could be one of these, or a variation:

Karlis’ appears to be sideways though. I havent found a sideways triangle pictured anywhere yet!

Will return to this post when more information is upturned 🙂

Leitnanta Rubeņa Bataljons

Crazily enough, the other day I stumbled across a quote from my great grandfather Karlis in an article by a man named Uldis Neiburgs, a researcher for the Latvian Occupation Museum. This article directly outlines all activity by Karlis’ Resistance Movement unit. Now If only I could translate it well…
The good news here is, there is someone out there researching and documenting these events. Mr. Neiburgs has to have come across documents regarding Karlis, for he has written about him twice. I have emailed Mr. Neiburgs… wish me luck on the response I receive.

 Here’s the quote:

Leitnanta R. Rubeņa bataljons nākamajā dienā uzbruka SS obergrupenfīrera F. Jekelna štābam, izsitot to no nometnes vietas mežsarga mājās “Novadniekos”. Bijušā rubenieša Kārļa Vīnakmens atmiņās varam lasīt:

“Kā lielākais negadījums, kas vien var būt, pāršalc kureliešu rindas vēsts, ka kritis bataljona komandieris. Viesulim līdzīgi cēlās vīri, metās prettriecienā, lai atriebtu šo sāpīgo zaudējumu. Ar rokas granātām un durkļiem tiek SS vīri atsviesti atpakaļ. Vēl mēģina griezties tie pretīm, bet te nu kaulu zāģis dara savu. Nu jau ašāki zib vācu naglotie papēži, un, neizturot straujo prettriecienu, tie savā aizmugurē nonāk pie straujās Abavas. Daudzi aiz bailēm, daudzi no spīvās uguns pļauti sakrīt straumē, un te nu ložu neskartos pieveic Abavas straujie ūdeņi. Un, kas arī mēģina tikt otrā krastā augšā, to graiza ložu šaltis.”

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.

Ship: SS Zuiderkruis

The SS Zuiderkruis is the ship that carried my great grandfather Karlis Vinakmens and his family to Canada. Originally named the “SS Cranston Victory”, it was built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Yard in Portland, Oregon, USA and launched on May 5, 1944. It was first used as a troop transport ship, but was soon sold to the Dutch government for use as an immigrant transport ship. The SS Cranston Victory was renamed SS Zuiderkruis by the Dutch. She was out of commission by 1969 and destroyed.

Lockheed Super Constellation DALID


The plane on which my grandfather Arvids travelled to Canada was a Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation called D-ALID. Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft (Lufthansa – still a large European company today) flight no. 420/25 departed Frankfurt, Germany on January 25, 1957, crossed the Atlantic and landed in New York (LaGuardia?) How was he able to take a plane? Surely this was not typical of DP’s at the time. I’d really like to find out how and why this came to be at some point.
Here is the Passenger List, found with
“TRWOV” means “Transfer without VISA”. “YUL” is the Montreal airport code. He is the only person on a relatively small passenger list bound for Montreal. His connecting flight from New York to Montreal appears to have been flight 323/26.