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WW1 Diary – February 11, 1918

Sixty-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.

There are two parts to this diary entry – both are below. It appears that Alise wrote two almost identical entries on this day, probably not realizing she’d already written, given all that was on her mind at the time.

February 11, 1918 (part 1)

Sunday morning. I rushed to finish all of my tasks and I’m getting ready to go to the prayer hall. My body feels like it is full of lead. The town is terrible with its piles of corpses. I also went to the German commander, to ask him to protect us from German soldiers ransacking us. They were all very nice and careful. After that I went to the prayer hall, where we were without a pastor, so everyone else prayed to God heartily, as we could we sad wives and children, and cried from the heart, and also prayed for those making our loved ones suffer, the Latvian riflemen, God forgive them, for they know not what they do!

As it turns out, if the Germans hadn’t stopped them, a few days later they would have come from the women and children under 16 as well, and strangled and shot us. We were already on the blacklist and punishment would have started soon, if the Germans hadn’t rescued us, but it was still too late for our husbands and fathers, who could lie by the dozens shot somewhere at the roadside by the vicious Latvian riflemen. Doesn’t this innocent blood cry out to the King of Kings?? And so it goes, day after day. And so they go after friend after friend, acquaintance after acquaintance. They are taken without saying their goodbyes, one after another, but the pain and tragedy continues and doesn’t stop for a moment. If you cannot bear the tortures placed upon you – you fall. Why are people’s lives worth so little? And so the days pass with painful questions and worries. How opaque how unclear life is. The fate of today’s people is insanity, you can feel it on your face as fears create wrinkles. People attack people, and so people flee from people. Minds are frightened, the heart has no peace.

February 11, 1918 (part 2).

I got up, feeling like my body was weighed down with lead. I did my housework and then went to town, because there is no peace at home. We were many sad wives and children at the prayer hall (we cannot use the church since its desecrators are still on display outside). One teacher prayed to God for our loved ones, who were taken away to an unknown and horrible fate, and our Papa among them, and I did not manage to give him any bread or anything, and that makes my heart ache. All of the pastors also taken away, only the teacher here who is preaching and prayed also for our evildoers: God forgive them, for they know not what they do!

The German orchestra was playing on the street, it has been a long time since we heard nice music like that. We also went to the cemetery to cry out our fears and sorrows, our thoughts with our loved ones, who may already be dead, whose graves we will never get to tend, we won’t be able to put down any flowers, and we will have to fight our children and food. Our hearts break – hearing all of the terrible stories, some of our loved ones have managed to escape, including Pastor Beldavs, who has gone grey and sick, even though he was like an oak in his best years. He was really saved by God’s word, when he was on the convoy, talking to the Latvian riflemen. I just want to cry, the world is full of so many horrors.

WW1 Diary – February 10, 1918

Sixty-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.

February 10, 1918

A second troop of German soldiers arrived, who promised to rush to rescue our Papa and the others. Not knowing is torture, there are many rumours. What a terrible Saturday night, for I am alone here at home.

WW1 Diary – February 8, 1918

Sixtieth 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 8, 1918

Frightening news is arriving about our loved ones. I am tired physically and spiritually. At 6am the Germans freed us, they took Valmiera with small battles. They saved about 13 farmers from the Red Guard, those con men, who were shot on the spot. Those who desecrated our churches and the pickpockets were hanged in the market square, where they still swing in the breeze as a warning. All of the Bolshevik committees are disbanded, their papers thrown out all over the streets with their dirty writings. It fills me with joy and satisfaction. In the evening our first German guests arrived, who stayed until the next morning. The hearty German lieutenants did, however, take away a lot of our things, including Papa’s big riding horse Olis.

WW1 Diary – February 7, 1918

Fifty-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.

February 7, 1918

Last night I went to town to see where they were being held. So many in such a small room. There is talk that they will be sent away. I hadn’t brought anything, but I borrowed bread and tobacco that the Latvian soldiers searched beforehand, as if we were big criminals. Early this morning I rushed there with a package for our loved one to have on the road, but I was too late. At 2am they had all been herded to the station, loaded into cattle cars and sent away to their horrible fate.

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.