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WW1 Diary – June 4, 1917

Forty-first 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 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.

June 4, 1917

Days are warm, sunny. The air is full of flowers. White lilacs are blooming, lilies-of-the-valley, fields are full of uncountable flowers. Still, life is stormy, full of fear and unrest. The farmhands and servants on all of the estates are striking. Our farmhands and servants announced their strike on June 2nd. No one is working. The barley has been seeded in the fields, but crowds of crows are feasting, because there is no one to dig the seeds into the soil. The cows are mooing in the barn, disturbed by the pigs, everyone wants to eat and most importantly, the cows must be milked. We got up at 4am, everyone else was sleeping, what could we do. The only person who stayed loyal to us was the stablemaster, with whom we went to the barn and gave the cows hay, and then we began to milk them. Thankfully two reservists’ wives showed up, who helped, otherwise I would not have been able to manage with 28 cows to milk. We locked ourselves in the barn, so that no one could get to us, so they could not yell or hit us or other terrible things. Papa watered the calves and fed the pigs himself. There are hundreds of chores to be done in the house, which all need to be done, and the children want to eat.

The strike demands are sky-high. Some farmhands want to be paid 1600 rubles in cash, the girls want salaries raised to 350 rubles, and they want everything for free. We cannot accept or reach a compromise on many of these, because there is no income and how could we meet such demands. And so the strike continues, with all sorts of irritations, each one bigger than the last. May God give us strength to persevere, to survive this. There are promises and threats to kick owners and stewards out of their homes, so that the farmhands can take over and deal out the land and belongings. There are more and more political parties. The Bolsheviks are inviting people to fight not against the Germans anymore, but against the capitalists and the provisional government. They want to divide up everything, so that everyone has an equal share. Madness!

They want to force the Tsar and his whole family to leave their palace and put them in Kronstadt prison. The ministers are suffering in prison, waiting for their day in court. Maybe that will happen to us too, we innocents, we could be thrown out of our home and bread, and then where will we be with small children. Crazy, horrible life! A whole band of bandits and thieves has organized itself in Valmiera, there are all sorts of thefts and deceptions with every step, it is terrifying to live. The only peace and refuge – our God, we ask him for peace, so that only the heart becomes peaceful.

52 Ancestors #22: Anna Ronis (Bonis?)

Time for Week 22 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

This was supposed to be another one of the “find the maiden name of a female ancestor using more roundabout methods”, but I tried this with three more female ancestors, and got blocked by missing death records in Limbaži and Matīši. Now, there is still hope, using records on-site at the Latvian State Historical Archives, but since I’m not there right now (though I will be next month!), I have to put them on hold for now.

We still have a female ancestor though! Today’s ancestor is Anna Ronis (or possibly Bonis), born 1817 and died 1904. She is my great-great-great-great-grandmother by way of my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother, Karoline Matilde Baburs.

My first record of Anna is her marriage to Ādams Baburs in the Suntaži Lutheran Church on June 14, 1842. This record states her surname is Ronis, and that she is from the farm called “Roņi” – and thus her surname would make a lot of sense, since surname acquisition would have taken place when she was a young girl. “Ronis” means “seal” in Latvian – how a family acquired the name of a sea animal when they lived almost 100km from the coast, I don’t know, but that’s how it was. After the birth of my great-great-great-grandfather Mārtiņš, the family moved to Stopiņi estate near the Daugava, and then eventually to Rīga, where they were a part of the worker social class. According to the tax lists, Anna died on November 10, 1904.

There is some confusion as to her surname though – while the marriage record clearly says Ronis, the tax lists clearly say Bonis. When in doubt, I’d go with the earlier record, since that is closer to the actual event of her birth, but who really knows? Since her birth pre-dates surnames, I can’t take that route, my only hope is finding a family to fit her into in Suntaži, which unfortunately has not happened, despite my best efforts. I could be looking on the wrong estate, there’s a chance that the Roņi farm might not be a part of Suntaži estate, and instead some other nearby one. It is something that I’ll look into when I can see some estate maps at the archives. Just another thing to add to the list!

The tax lists are the best resources out there for late 19th century Rīga research. More detailed than revision lists and easier to find than 1897 All-Russia census records, they are a fantastic resource. Unlike the census, they have the great advantage of indexes – as long as you know what social class they belonged to, and you’re at the archives, because the index books are enormous and sometimes require two people to lift (if you need someone else to do the heavy lifting for you, you know how to contact me!). In addition to providing birth and death information into the early 20th century, they will often also mention where a family was originally from, if they weren’t Rīga-born (though not always). They mention religions, and details for the whole family. This is how I know that Anna and Ādams’ son Ermanis converted to the Baptist faith. What they don’t do is mention where the family lived, but I guess you can’t have everything?

Have you had any success with the tax lists? Need help figuring out what social class (estate) your ancestors were from? Share in comments!

52 Ancestors #21: Trīne (Unconfirmed)

Time for Week 21 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

As I mentioned last week, I’ll be spending a few weeks dealing with challenging female ancestors – that is, female ancestors whose maiden names are unknown to me. In addition to telling their stories – what I know of them, anyways – I will also be looking into what their surnames could be, by exploring different sources with potential clues.

This week’s ancestor is Trīne, wife of Marcis Graumanis, whose grandfather was Kārlis Graumanis, who we learned about in Week 19. Trīne is my great-great-great-grandmother, by way of my maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother Līze Graumane.

According to a list of Lāde parish inhabitants from the 1870s, Trīne was born on December 23, 1823. However, in the documentation that I have thus far, she only appears on the scene in the spring of 1849, when she and her husband Marcis, along with Marcis’ parents Jānis and Grieta, and Marcis’ sister Līze, moved from Pociems estate to Sigulda estate. Trīne was not a part of the family when they had arrived on Pociems estate from Dikļi estate in 1842, so they must have married somewhere in that time period. However, I have not found any records of this event thus far, and I worry that they might be in the abyss of the missing late 1840s Limbaži records, since no other nearby parish has the record I’m looking for.

After moving with her family from Pociems to Sigulda, from Sigulda to Stalbe, they finally came to Lāde parish, south of Limbaži, in 1857. They established themselves on the Lejas-Samši farm, and have been there ever since (this property still belongs to some of my relatives). Trīne and Marcis passed the farm on to their daughter Līze, who passed it on to her daughter Mēŗija, who owned it at the time of the Soviet invasion in 1940. The property was reclaimed by her family when independence was regained.

Trīne died on February 12, 1883, and her birth was registered in the Limbaži St. Katherine’s parish, which is a bit odd – her children and grandchildren conducted their affairs in the Limbaži Church, so why would they travel further for their mother’s funeral? I know it is her, because the record states that she was living on Lejas-Samši farm, but it is just bizarre that they would not have recorded the event in the regular Limbaži church, which was much closer to their home.

Her death record says she was born in Dikļi, which is nice to know but not nearly as detailed as the death record from last week, where Marija’s death provided a specific farm as a place of birth. But since it is Dikļi, I do have one option to consult that doesn’t require me to know the specific farm – instead, her supposed birthdate will provide the clue that I need. Dikļi does not have birth records going back to 1823, but it does have confirmation records from the 1830s. So is there a Trīne there who was born in December of 1823? There is! With the precise birthdate listed of December 23, 1823, so it looks like a good match indeed! This Trīne’s surname is Krastiņa, and her father’s name is Jānis. She was born on Dikļi estate, Kulmači farm.

Though in the interest of completeness, there are other Trīnes as well. While Trīne Krastiņa certainly looks like the perfect match, I will not consider it 100% until I actually find a marriage record, since in this time period people were notoriously unreliable about dates. Even years! And so, the other possibles, all born within a few months or years:

  • Trīne Ābele, father Marcis, born October 23, 1821
  • Trīne Miķelsone, father Jānis, born July 15, 1822
  • Trīne Wende, father Tenis, born November 29, 1822
  • Trīne Krastiņa (another one!), father Pēteris, born June 6, 1823 – she was also from Kulmači farm, so it seems as though the fathers may have been brothers?
  • Trīne Krospiņa, father Jēkabs, born December 12, 1824
  • Trīne Diecmane, father Jānis, born December 28, 1824
  • Trīne Siliņa, father Jēkabs, born March 5, 1825
  • Trīne Ulme, widowed mother Ēde, born May 10, 1826 – this one is also important to note, since she is living on Spurītis farm, which I know to be a place where the Graumanis family lived

So I still like the younger Trīne Krastiņa for my ancestor, but I shouldn’t discount Trīne Krastiņa the elder, or Trīne Ulme. I think the rest I can probably set aside, but you never know. Stranger things have happened!

I’m not certain what possessed two brothers (? – this still needs to be confirmed) to give their daughters the same name -in the same year, no less – while they were living on the same farm. I’d like to say I haven’t seen this before, but I have. I don’t know why people did it, it is just asking for trouble and a great deal of confusion.

Come back next week, where I will tackle another female ancestor’s potential maiden names!

52 Ancestors #20: Marija (Unknown)

Time for Week 20 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

Starting with this week, I’ll be spending a few weeks dealing with challenging female ancestors – that is, female ancestors whose maiden names are unknown to me. In addition to telling their stories – what I know of them, anyways – I will also be looking into what their surnames could be, by exploring different sources with potential clues.

This week’s ancestor is Marija, wife of Kārlis Radziņš, who we learned about in Week 17. As I mentioned in that post, it is possible that her surname may have been Kaukulis (Kaukule in the feminine form), but I am also going to explore alternate possibilities.

What I know of Marija I already summed up in Kārlis’ post: They would have married in 1840 or 1841, and these records are missing for Lugaži parish, so I can’t use this easy resource to find her maiden name. They had six known children who survived past infancy, and it was the birth of the seventh child, a stillborn daughter, that also led to Marija’s death in 1864. It is Marija’s death record that provides the information we need to try and find the family she was born into, and consequently, her surname. She was born on Smēķi farm on Lugaži estate, which does not appear on any maps that I can find, though there is a “Smēķupīte” (Smēķi creek/stream) on the outskirts of the town of Valka. Surrounding farm names in the revision list indicate that this is a probable location of the farm, so if I can find maps of Lugaži estate somewhere, then this might tell me if this is the right place.

Why I think Kaukulis is the best possibility for her family name: The managing family at Smēķi farm at the time of the 1857 revision list is the Kaukulis family. Now, it is easy to say “Marija might not have been a member of the managing family”, and I will explore those options below, but I have another point in favour: My great-great-grandmother Marija Radziņa, this Marija’s daughter, was born on Lielkāji farm on Lugaži estate, and wouldn’t you know it – the 1857 revision list entry for Lielkāji farm also has a Kaukulis family living there. People often lived with extended family, so this adds to the possibility that they are related. If this is Marija’s family, her parents could be Līze and Gusts. There are no revision lists prior to 1857 available.

There are also other potential surnames. There is another family with appropriate ages living on Smēķi farm in 1857 – the Dūviņš family. Since they were a farmhand family, suggesting that they were there 35 years earlier when Marija was born might be a bit of a stretch. But you never know. Sometimes farmhand families stayed in one place for a longer time.

The biggest problem with these names from the 1857 revision list is that they are there 35 years after Marija’s birth. There’s nothing saying they were there when she was born c. 1822. The closest records I have available right now to consult are the 1830s BMD records. Looking through 1834 and 1835, I found one entry for someone born or living in Smēķi – a married man by the name of Barķis Balkains who died there at the age of 42. Since Marija would have been 12 in 1834, there is a possibility that this could be her father. Looking further through these records might yield even more possibilities.

Looking at the Latvian State Historical Archives’ fonds register, there are many items in the collections regarding Lugaži parish. I hope that one of these documents can help provide the answers I’m looking for!

Do you have any female ancestors for whom you are attempting to identify maiden names? What are your techniques? Share your stories in comments!

Struggling with German Script?

While ruling powers – Germans, Swedes, Russians, Poles, etc. – changed over the centuries, one constant in the ruling class remained: Most local gentry in Latvian territory were Germans. As a result, many documents related to Latvian genealogical research prior to Latvian independence are written in German. But German writing then did not look like German writing today – most records are written in a script called Kurrent (which in the 20th century also developed into Sütterlin script, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably). Kurrent and Sütterlin are no longer used today, but the old records are almost exclusively written in them.

Through practice and the use of material guides, one can begin to puzzle out what this script says – but here there is a bit of a shortcut! If you are just beginning to learn this script, or even if you’ve got years of experience in trying to puzzle it out, sometimes you will come across a word that is unfamiliar, and you think you know what it might say, but you’re not sure… enter this script generator that was mentioned on the Genealogy Translations Facebook group!

Alte deutsche Schrift‘s (“Old German Handwriting”) script generator can help you determine whether or not something says what you think it says. If you think you know what some old writing says, enter it in the box. Then press Enter, and it will pop up an image of how that word would appear in Kurrent. Click on the different styles under the text box to get different variations (in terms of what I see in Latvian records, I find the first, fourth and fifth style options most useful). Does the resulting image look like the word you’re puzzling out in the record? Fantastic! If not, try again with new possible letters.

The important part of the German instructions that non-German speakers need to be aware of: If you need to include the “long S” (ß), but don’t know how to type it on your keyboard, you can use the colon (:) instead.

May this resource help you in your search for your ancestors! Please share any successes in comments!

52 Ancestors #19: Kārlis Graumanis

Time for Week 19 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

This week’s ancestor is Kārlis Graumanis, born August 23, 1755 and died November 29, 1838. He is my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather by way of my maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother Līze Graumane.

Considering the lack of recordkeeping prior to the early 19th century in Latvian territory, insofar as it concerned peasants, it is remarkable that I have these precise dates. Now, they are both from secondary sources – a parish register from 1834 – but it is the best that I have available. Most revision lists give ages five to seven years younger, so it is possible that the dates are somewhat off.

I am not certain where Kārlis was born, but I know that one of his sons, Tenis, was born on Morēni farm on Dikļi estate in northern Latvia on January 10, 1793. Unfortunately, I don’t have a source that mentions his eldest son’s birthplace or birthdate, and this son – Jānis – is the one I am descended from. He was five years older than Tenis, and may or may not have been born on Morēni farm as well. Morēni could well be the birthplace of Kārlis as well.

Regardless of Kārlis’ birthplace, I do know that he spent much of his life on Grotūzis farm, also a part of Dikļi estate, about 2 kilometres west of Morēni south of the main estate lands. There are three men of the right age group – that is, a father Kārlis with sons Jānis and Tenis born five years apart – as the managing family on Grotūzis farm in 1811, and since there is no mention of them having arrived there from another farm, it is likely that they were there in 1795 as well. However, since there are no surnames in 1811, nor female family members mentioned, I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that this is the right family. I’ve had it happen before where families were replaced with a group with all of the same first names and age spacings before.

At the time of the 1826 revision list, Kārlis is living on Grotūzis farm, with both of his sons and their families. No wife is mentioned. However, by 1834, they have all left Grotūzis – eldest son Jānis and his family have moved to Spurītis farm, while Kārlis, younger son Tenis and his family have moved to Skrīvelis farm, and now Kārlis has a wife, Ilze. Did he remarry when he was well into his 60s, or was his wife somehow left out of the 1826 revision list? There is a widow named Ilze Devika living on Skrīvelis farm in 1826, and while her age is a few years off to be the Ilze married to Kārlis in 1834, ages have been off before. And she is not listed in the 1834 revision list (though revision lists do not usually mention if a woman has died or moved elsewhere, so these are also possibilities as to what happened to her). Did Kārlis marry Ilze Devika? There are no records to definitively prove it, but it is a possibility.

Both Kārlis and Ilze were deceased by the time of the 1850 revision list, and it specifically states that Kārlis died in 1838, as does the parish register I mentioned above – though I have not yet found said death record. They would have died on Skrīvelis farm, which was located just one or two farms north of Morēni farm.

Considering the time period, I am amazed that I have as much on Kārlis’ life as I do – but I have even more on his son and grandson. But that is for a different day!

52 Ancestors #18: Andrejs Eglītis

Time for Week 18 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

This week’s ancestor is Andrejs Eglītis, born c. 1774, died 1858. He is my great-great-great-great-grandfather by way of my maternal grandfather’s maternal grandfather, Ansis Eglītis.

Andrejs Eglītis was born c. 1774 on Limbaži estate, Skuduli farm, according to his death record. Skuduli was located northwest of the town of Limbaži, and approximately 6km north of Langači farm, where he spent much of his life. Langači was located southwest of the town of Limbaži.

He is enumerated as a resident of Langači farm in 1826, 1834 and 1850, with the mention of his death in the 1858 revision list. His father is listed as Jānis. Andrejs had a brother Ansis, who was also enumerated at Langači farm in 1826 and 1834. It is unknown if they had any other siblings.

Either Andrejs and his wife Līze married later in life than was the custom of the time, or Andrejs already had children grown and out of the house by 1826, though the numbering present in the 1826 revision list makes the latter unlikely. In 1826, he is listed as 52 years old, with his wife Līze 45 years of age. There are three sons listed – my great-great-great-grandfather Ansis, age 8 (“first son”), Kārlis, age 6 (“second son”) and Jespers, age 4 (“third son”), as well as a daughter Anna, age 2 1/2. If Andrejs already had grown children, it is unlikely that Ansis would be listed as his first son. As such, it appears likely that Andrejs and Līze had their first child when they were approximately 44 and 37, respectively. Unusual, but not outside the realm of possibility.

Līze died sometime between the 1834 revision list and the 1850 revision list, however I have not been able to find her death record, since a number of the records for the 1840s are missing for the Limbaži Lutheran Church. Andrejs died on March 14, 1858, at 3:30 in the morning at the age of 84. His cause of death is listed as chest trouble.

What ancestor will be next? Find out next week when 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks returns!

52 Ancestors #17: Kārlis Radziņš

Time for Week 17 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

This week’s ancestor is Kārlis Radziņš, born c. 1816 and died after 1877. He is my great-great-great-grandfather by way of my paternal grandfather’s paternal grandmother, Marija Radziņa.

Kārlis is an ancestor I do not have much information on. He lived on Lugaži estate in northern Latvia, on what is now the border between Latvia and Estonia, but at the time period would have been little more than a linguistic border (and even then, it was somewhat porous – Latvians and Estonians co-mingled across this boundary). According to the 1857 revision list, he was 41 years old at the time, making his birthdate c. 1816. According to this document, his father’s name was Jānis. He was married to a woman name Marija, whose surname may have been Kaukulis (this guess is made based on the families found at the farm she is alleged to be from according to her death record). They would have been married in 1840 or 1841, but the marriage records for Lugaži parish are missing for that year.

Kārlis and Marija had six known children who lived past infancy: Liene (c. 1841), Pēteris (c. 1844), Ieva (c. 1847), Kārlis (c. 1851), Jānis (c. 1854) and Marija (1856, my great-great-grandmother). Their seventh known child was a stillborn daughter in January of 1864, which also resulted in Marija’s death from complications due to the birth. I don’t see any sign of Kārlis remarrying in Lugaži in the years immediately following her death, but it is possible that he did later, or in a different congregation from Lugaži. He may not have remarried if his older children could be counted on to care for the younger ones.

I’m not certain yet when Kārlis died, but according to my great-great-grandmother Marija’s marriage record, he was still alive when she married Pēteris Celmiņš in Lugaži Lutheran Church on October 23, 1877.

After seventeen weeks, we are almost at the end of my “most ancient known ancestors” – just a few more to go, and then we will be moving on to more recent ancestors!

52 Ancestors #16: Mārtiņš Plūme

Time for Week 16 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

This week’s ancestor is Mārtiņš Plūme, born c. 1825 and died after 1884. He is my great-great-great-grandfather by way of my maternal grandfather’s paternal grandmother, Doroteja Matilde Plūme.

Just like in the case of his wife Dārta Andersone, it is difficult to find out more about his ancestors due to the lack of revision lists prior to 1858. Like Dārta, it is likely that he was born on the Nabe estate, probably on Kroņi farm. His father’s name was Ādams, as indicated by the 1858 revision list entry for Kroņi. It is possible that a woman listed in the entry as “Ādams’ widow”, Trīne, is his mother, but since it does not definitively say that, I cannot be certain without a different source of proof. Ādams must have died prior to the 1850 revision list, since otherwise he would have still had an entry mentioning his death in the 1858 list. His date of death can be estimated to be between 1834 and 1850, since there is another son of his listed, also named Ādams, who was born c. 1835. I do not know at this time if Mārtiņš and Ādams Junior had any more siblings.

Mārtiņš Plūme married Dārta Andersone on December 9, 1845 at the Lēdurga Lutheran Church. Details of their children can be found in her 52 Ancestors entry, linked above. As I mentioned in that entry, Mārtiņš Plūme was able to purchase Kroņi farm in 1871 from the Nabe estate owner, Johann Adolph von Sievers, a scion of that famous Baltic German noble house. The purchase price was 4608 rubles, and Mārtiņš made a downpayment of 508 rubles. The rest was on credit, and at least 300 rubles needed to be paid every 3 years. The contract also stipulates that Mārtiņš retained the right to fish in the lakes of Nabe estate, and that von Sievers retained the right to create irrigation canals on Kroņi farm (until 1900).

I am not certain when Mārtiņš died, only that it was after Doroteja Matilde’s marriage in 1884. He probably remained on Kroņi farm until he died. Doroteja Matilde inherited Kroņi farm, which passed to her husband upon her death in 1918 and then passed to their three youngest daughters (Vera, Velta, Margrieta) after his death in 1922.

Property records can be a great source of family information – I have not looked at the entire Kroņi property file yet, but it has already provided great information for me – one key document listed all of the birth and death information for Doroteja Matilde and her husband Roberts Francis, as well as all of the birth information for their children, and later marriage information (if applicable). Somewhere in there I’m sure will be the information I need about Mārtiņš’ and Dārta’s deaths.

What goodies have you found in property records that aren’t related to property? Share your stories in comments!

WW1 Diary – April 18, 1917

Fortieth 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 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.

April 18, 1917

Apparently it is *prohibited* to work hard on a workday. Leaflets are seen everywhere, the town is decorated with red flags. People wearing red ribbons are also everywhere, singing and dancing about the new “Freedom celebration”. What kind of good they will bring us is still a big question. All sorts of meetings, rallies and disagreements. Socialist revolutionaries want to take everyone’s homes, land and belongings, without compensation, and to divide them up so everyone gets their share. Social-democrats want to work against such foolish notions and soon we can expect a civil war amongst brothers…

Even though it is only a few days until Jurģi [NB: Traditional Latvian spring celebration], the weather is still cold, in the mornings only about 5 degrees, and the land is covered with a thick layer of snow. The heart sorrows, that in the place of greenery and bird-cherry flowers, there is still white snow, that does not let anything to blossom or grow.

At the beginning of the war, no one had experienced a summer that hot. Day after day, the sun traveled across the sky like a huge burning coal. It was sad to see the fields, which in May rippled so beautifully and freshly green, turn to yellow and then brown as if burned, and finally it looked like they were crumbling to dust. The people were waiting for rain. Clouds formed, but then scattered and the sun was red, blazing across the withered land. I remember, how the nights were dry – completely without dew, when we opened the window at night for some cool air, but instead the room filled with heavy smoke, for all of the forests were burning. They burned not only for one or two days, but for months. Even the flocks of bats and dragonflies raised the alarm, as in every case, that defies explanation.

Then one day, July 19, 1914, right around lunchtime – the hot breath of the land, quiet forests, empty roads and a lonely rider on a big horse, that belonged to our doctor, where was he going in such a hurry? What kind of horrible news is he carrying? At once I remembered the alarming news in the papers. Mobilization, war – and now that war has not yet ended, that war of horror, blood and so many terrible events. Even though the end might be soon, these horrible fateful days, where countries and thrones hang in the balance… and the weather is cold, very cold, compared to the beginning.