When visiting a great-aunt of mine (my maternal grandfather’s sister) in Latvia, she shared with me a real family treasure – the wartime diary of her aunt, written during the First World War. I photographed all of the pages, and am now slowly transcribing and then translating the content. It provides a fascinating view into civilian life in Latvia, almost right on the front lines of the war. I’m going to share these entries with you.
First, some background – the writer’s name is Alise Tešs, maiden name Francis. She was my great-grandfather Arvīds’ older sister. By the start of this diary, she was married and had two young children (and soon, a third on the way). The diary starts in 1915, when the family had moved to Lieljumprava, right on the Daugava river, from their earlier home in the Limbaži area, about 120km away. Only a few months after the young family moved to Lieljumprava, the First World War came to Latvia and threw their world into chaos.
This is their story. I will be posting the entries on the same days as they were written 97 years ago. So without further ado…
June 24, 1915
Midsummer’s day. Earlier and now! Everything is so quiet – there is nature, there are people. No Ligo songs, no crowns of flowers. Earlier everyone was dancing, now the men are somber. We are far from our relatives and friends, now only our little group. My thoughts go to our homeland and my heart longs for it!