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WW1 Diary – February 6, 1918

Fifty-eighth 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.

February 6, 1918

At 3pm the Bolsheviks arrested our Papa. The Latvian riflemen are taking all of the intelligent people and putting them in prison, all of the pastors, pharmacists, etc. They are taken and imprisoned. About 130 in all in Valmiera.

Beginners’ Course in Latvian Genealogy!

Big announcement today – Starting on February 9th, I will be running an online 12-week beginners’ course on Latvian genealogy, where we will start with the basics of Latvian research using online sources.

I know getting into the records can feel intimidating, especially if you don’t know the languages involved. But we were all beginners once, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! That’s why I’ve created this course, so you can learn what you need to know and get help and advice along the way.

No prior knowledge of Latvian, German or Russian required – everything you’ll need to know to locate villages/towns, find your ancestors’ records on Raduraksti and then understand what the records say will be included in the course. The course will be conducted in English.

Course Outline

  • Week 1 – Historical Context and Migration Patterns
  • Week 2 – Spelling and Orthography
  • Week 3 – Location, Location, Location
  • Week 4 – Names
  • Week 5 – Relationships and Occupations
  • Week 6 – Baptism/Birth Records
  • Week 7 – Marriage Records
  • Week 8 – Death Records
  • Week 9 – Other Religious Records
  • Week 10 – Revision Lists
  • Week 11 – 1897 Census
  • Week 12 – Wrap-Up and Next Steps

Course Requirements

You will need to have an Internet connection as well as a Google account, since we will use many Google features, including Gmail, Hangouts (text only), Docs and Keep. A Google account is free. You will also need an account on the Raduraksti website, also free. A computer (desktop or laptop) would be best, but as long as you can see, read and navigate the embedded pages in the Raduraksti website, then a tablet would also suffice. The course material and exercises should take you about one to three hours per week.

Prices (in US dollars)

Basic 12-Week Course: $129 – which includes:

  • 12 modules, one each week, which will consist of readings, exercises and applying lessons learned to your own family history (see outline above), new modules will be released on Monday and you have until the following Monday to complete the exercises
  • corrected exercises returned to you within 48 hours
  • access to a group chatroom where you can discuss the course material with other students and ask the instructor questions
  • *BONUS* For this first session of this introductory course, upon completion of the program, if you wish to complement your own online research with on-site research conducted by the instructor (me), you will be eligible for a 25% discount on your first four-hour research package – get four hours of on-site research for the price of three!

Course Add-Ons!

$79 – Personalized Exercises Created For You

  • In addition to the regular course material, you will be sent personalized exercises for each module, as they relate to your family history (but won’t hand it to you – you still need to do the hunting for each record yourself!), such as providing more detail on the relevant parishes, extra help through various styles of handwriting you’ll need to deal with in your specific parishes and so on. Amount and type of extra exercises will vary by module and information that you are able to provide on your family history prior to the beginning of the course.

$49 – One-on-One Video Chat with Instructor

  • This add-on gets you three hours of video chat time with me, to be divided up throughout the course at mutually convenient times, recommended at a rate of half an hour every two weeks (for six half-hour sessions total). You can ask more detailed questions about the course material and any other Latvian genealogy questions you may have.

To Sign Up!

Please send an email to (note: this is an image to prevent spam, you will need to type it into your email program) expressing your interest (in the basic course and any add-ons, if applicable) and outline for me your Latvian family history as far as you know it, including when approximately they emigrated from Latvia, names and dates, ethnicity, religion, and so on, so that I can make sure that the course is appropriate for you. Once I’ve given you the go-ahead, you can send payment via Paypal, and you’ll be welcomed into the course!

Space IS limited – I’m only accepting 20 people into this session! Anyone signing up after that will be put on a waiting list for the next session, start date to be determined.

Hope to see you there!

WW1 Diary – January 18, 1918

Fifty-seventh 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.

January 18, 1918

I was in town for a Bible study. Pastor Beldavs was earnest in his prayers to God. I know a strong place, where I can feel safe, even when the world is collapsing around us, I know what stands strong. And now – the revolutionaries want to forbid such study classes, this is their only way to try and divide people from the books they hold dear. They do not want to let people pray to God!!!

WW1 Diary – January 16, 1918

Fifty-sixth 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.

January 16, 1918

The newspapers tell us that there are also socialist uprisings and huge demonstrations in Germany and Austria. The same news from other countries. Here, there is still a civil war. If one cannot play the role of hero – they fall. If one cannot survive the tortures put upon them – they fall. If one cannot hate one’s human brother – they fall. How unreal, how confusing life is! The “mean kulak” threatens you, your life, and your work gets destroyed. Love is dragged through the mud and does not recognize truth. Now so it is – foreign and cold people look at each other and see only enemies, not friends. That is how the days pass – an empty world, where people must hide from people, otherwise people will attack people. When will life awaken again? So much blood and suffering, so many burnt offerings, but so little peace.

WW1 Diary – January 14, 1918

Fifty-fifth 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.

January 14, 1918

Now it is time to work hard – men need to be cared for, fed, things must be tidied. In the evenings we sit together and read. And so the days pass and we await miracles. The Bolsheviks want to make peace agreements, but they are stretched too thinly – they have seized power in words, but in work? Little progress. Who knows what else we will have to experience!

WW1 Diary – January 7, 1918

Fifty-fourth 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.

January 7, 1918

We celebrated Papa’s birthday with an abundant dinner table, together with old and new friends. Papa did not get any presents, instead we dressed a small Roma (Gypsy) child who, in the cold of 10 degrees, only had a shirt and a small blanket. We dressed him from head to toe and fed him well, and our people were very happy.

WW1 Diary – December 31, 1917

Fifty-third 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.

December 31, 1917

We all sat together in the warm dining room of Savariņi, and thought about the past year. Many horrors, many pains, it brought us many indescribable things. Our land, our homeland is living through a huge and horrible tragedy. Not only the land but the people, suffering through everything the war has to throw at them. More than three years of war behind us, but the future is so foggy, that it is impossible to see what lies ahead.

The revolution is in full swing. More and more estates and their inventory are being confiscated. They are taking the last of what they can from the owners. Still the “Bolsheviks” promises are not being met – that has been the only happiness – one can hope and pray. Who will return what has been stolen? Who will fix the destroyed livelihoods? Now that is the life, that we must live!

Days are overcast – and the heart is longing for sun. There is no end to the tears, no end, they cry whether it is evening or morning, a mother cries at the side of a bed, the orphan cries waking up. There is no end to the tears, no end, they cry whether it is evening or morning, the hermit in the cave cries, as does the refugee wandering in foreign lands. We are its witnesses, and also its victims.

The most painful thing is that we are suffering from the hands of our own people, our own army. The same army, that should be protecting peaceful citizens, is the army that is stealing and destroying everything. Hayfields, gardens, homes, they are in such a state that it is as if the enemy has come marching through, leaving a trail of destruction. The heart is brave – but we feel powerless against the power of the thieves. If it would be possible, if there would be hope to get restitution from the taxation lists in some way, but it would not be the type of restitution with which one could save oneself from the destruction and famine.

This whole time we have been controlled by illusions. Political waves have stirred up into foam, on which people have died for slogans. All of the power to worker-soldier councils, and they promised us immediate peace, bread and land. How could we not want peace, after more than three years of spilled blood, for nothing. How could we not want bread, if there is no longer anything to eat? But it seems like none of these people have the ability to fulfill these promises, since they can’t even do it for themselves. The march of Titans goes on. Now the lives of people and the shadows of rulers are nothing. Famine destroys people’s minds and crushes them, like a ball of wax in a warm room. Lenin promises that wagons full of bread are ready, that peace is at the end of the rope… Who still has what? Mr Comrade, he breaks and steals. How many people have no eyes with which to cry, or painful sorrows due to famine. And it is true, there is not much more to take, only horrible crimes are left.

WW1 Diary – December 27, 1917

Fifty-third 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.

December 27, 1917

Yesterday we celebrated cousin “Lullija’s” wedding. Despite her husband’s flirting, she got an honest and good husband. He was a soldier only for a moment, and officers were having a terrible time of it. Stripped of ranks, lowered salaries, they are not respected. The strongest have been put in prisons or shot. A time of madness! The wedding was cozy and we did not feel anything of the impeding famine.

WW1 Diary – December 25, 1917

Fifty-second 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.

December 25, 1917

Christmas is here! The angels provided for us once again and sent us a tree with many presents. The tree was very bright and the mood was good. The children were dears, pleasing us with their songs. Dagiņa is three years old and she sang “O Come Little Children” so beautifully. Our three old ladies showered us and the children with gifts. We discussed what kind of conditions we’ve celebrated Christmas in in different years, and who knows where it will be next? Not here, we hope!

WW1 Diary – December 12, 1917

Fifty-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 (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.

December 12, 1917

The whole country is shaken by the feverish firestorm of war, everything is topsy-turvy, one after another… The civil war is raging in its full insanity… the bloody events indescribable. Newspapers are full of horrible news. Pastors are holding services in their homes, for churches are still being used for rallies. Listening to the services, my heart is full of fear, hearing what the pastor is saying about famine, plague and the end of the world. It is possible, that that which I feared as a child will come to pass.

The pastor says, that for the Christian person, the Judgement will come as a spring breeze, but for the irreligious, it will scare them like a cold fall wind, when one does not have warm clothes. Gangs are going around and taking away the estates, along with the movable and immovable property. Even we were thrown out of our warm nest, taking from us our work and bread for no reason. Now we are living in our landlady’s second estate, where life is still comfortable and warm, despite everything that has happened. We still have an apartment and support for free until January 1st. Then our money will melt away, because everything is so expensive. Meat costs 350 kopecks, butter 700 rubles, milk is 80 kopecks a quart, soap is 280 kopecks, and so on.

Luckily Papa has a new job, as the supervisor of the Crown horses, which are being brought to us and then sold. His salary is 400 rubles per month. Horses and carts are being demobilized, and soldiers are leaving their positions in disarray, and heading home, for those who still have a home. Who will save us from the destruction and terror? Some are hoping for Lenin, the Bolshevik’s war leader, who is creating all sorts of confusion with Trotsky, and who are believed and followed by half the army. Others are hoping for Kaledin, the leader of the Cossacks, who wants to save Russia, and is fighting the “Bolshevik” battalions, who have been joined by our irrational Latvian “free riflemen”. Others are still hoping and longing for the Germans, wishing that they would come and deliver us from the horrible chaos, looming famine and destruction. My house and I will trust in God, who has been blessing aDend helping us up to now. He will continue to keep us and protect us. Who is sad, who is sorrowful – Jesus is standing next to us…