Sixty-ninth installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated (again) to a home near Valmiera, and the Russian Revolution is in full swing. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.
If there is mention of a recognizable historical figure and event, I will provide a Wikipedia link so that you can read more about the events that Alise is describing.
March 4, 1918
Dear friends came to visit for coffee on my name day, including Trūde’s friend Merija. Our life is good again. But the newspapers from Russia bring dreadful news about the atrocities of the Bolsheviks and the Red Guard. How good it is, that God helped our Papa escape. There is no news on the others – lost in the cauldron of terror. Some other arrestees, good men, have escaped and are telling terrible tales, what they have seen and suffered. Seven were slaughtered in one night in Strenči by the Latvian riflemen, including pastor Čiško from Matīši and others.
A man from Dikļi has written an expose in the newspaper about his experiences in the captivity of the Red Guards: “We arrived in Valmiera, the centre of all of the plans of terror and blood. The Soldier-Worker-Landless Peasant Deputy Councils – Executive committees – that is what these zoos were called. They had established themselves in the hotel. Our escort betrayed us. The Executive Committee chairman Griško, who asked about the social class of the arrestees, was told by our escort that we were farm managers, estate lords, pastors, to which Griško replied laconically – they are all for the firing squad! What terrible fates innocent people have suffered.”
Even more terrible news comes from people from Smiltene, who tell stories about the tortures that have happened after Pskov – and Pskov is where our Papa escaped. There the Red Guards were quietly told that the Germans are here. In their panic, they grabbed their victims and threw them out of the wagons, shooting them. Pharmacist Bergmanis was the only one who survived from that wagon. He tells the story: “The Red Guards broke into our wagon. They started to beat and torture the tenant of Meisi estate, who then told them that he will go on his own and die if that will benefit the fatherland and the homeland. He went out peacefully and was run through with a bullet. Lawyer Teikmanis gave his executioners a short speech before his death, telling them that every life is sacred and that they have no right to put it out like a candle, to which they replied roughly – “you, bourgeois, you tell us lies.” They pulled him out of the wagon and shot him. Pastor Jende moaned and begged – brothers, please shoot me with one bullet in the head, and so it was also done. Many in their terror started to say their prayers. Many cried. Many tried to buy their way out, and were successful.”
We live in such terrible and frightening times, due to the mercy of the Germans we are now safe, but who knows what will happen later, until complete peace on earth finally arrives? Now the authorities in Russia have signed a peace deal with the Germans, but the civil war still continues.