My parents’ stories about their wonderful cultured life in pre-war Liepaja/Libau in western Latvia captivated my childhood imagination. Reading my Father’s notes on his vintage photos, I discovered clues to my Jewish Latvian (Litvak) heritage. To link people with places and dates I gathered oral histories, documents and photographs from family members who had migrated from Latvia to South Africa, United Kingdom and Australia.
Weeks before my 80th birthday, I visited Liepaja/Libau half way around the world to learn first hand about my parents’ early lives and their families. I reconstructed their journey from Latvia to South Africa, along with the migration of most of their siblings.
Follow the diverse multidisciplinary research methods that I customised for this complicated family and country history, relying on published experts and authorities, noting specific sources for other Latvian descendents.
The extent of the Holocaust in Liepaja/Libau was shocking, as Nazis and Latvian collaborators brutally murdered about 6,300 Jews. I finally confirmed the family tragedy that had haunted Father to his dying day. I felt a thrill when I rediscovered two uncles of whom I had never heard, not even their names.
Savour this challenging and rewarding journey and enjoy the photographs and their messages of love and hope. Track the myriad threads around the world of two families with Latvian Jewish heritage.
One is not truly dead until one’s name is forgotten – Talmud