Fifth installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War, just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front. For the background, see here.
July 27, 1915
Days go by, waiting for the terrible times to come. We have packed most of our belongings. Refugees from Kurzeme’s parishes are destroying open land, herding animals, mowing hay, herding pigs into the potatoes. My heart is breaking with anger. But they are also full of sorrow. They have to leave their fields, homes, tables – and wander. One after another loses their favourite cow, the one giving their children milk – there lies a pig that’s wasted away, there a sheep. The sights are horrible. Especially at night – we hear cannon-fire – and even see the spotlights on the other side of the Daugava. Yesterday we were at church. The minister said a beautiful sermon. Yes – Jerusalem’s fate we know, but ours is still unknown. Maybe soon we will have to leave our beautiful home. I think again about yesterday’s sermon – better to be in a small hovel in your homeland then in a bright palace in a foreign land. One’s heart feels strange when singing at church: ‘When the wind and waves blow, then save the boat, when we are full of sorrow, come to help’. Precisely at that moment a wave of soldiers with shiny pikes and guns passed by. Many sunburned brown faces trying – praying to God – maybe sending their own heavy thoughts to the Almighty’s throne.