Life on the Kegums side during World War II

Memories of a distant wartime flare up. For the older generation, it would remind them of their own experiences, perhaps bored of the young.

We lived in a very beautiful place on the left bank of the Daugava, about six kilometers from Ķegums. In a place where 12 farmsteads, together called Priedesmuiža, is surrounded on one side by a large forest and on the other by the steep bank of the Daugava. Our house was separated from the others by the Negupite, which we called the lake, because it was wider near our house, crossed by two dams. The middle of one of the dams is still connected by a concrete bridge, which was rescued by a German soldier. The ends of the second dam reach the bottom and it is no longer proud of the former high wooden bridge. It once served the narrow gauge railway, on which grants were built for the construction of the Ķegums power plant. After the war, the bridge still served, carrying the dominant symbols - sickles and hammers - on its side. The tail of the Negupite stretches into the evergreen forest. In the middle of the pine manor is a children's paradise - large pits with ponds and wild strawberries. There are two underground springs with clear water in the forest edges.

June 1941. The mother learned that the war had begun, crying. My sister was ten years old, I was younger. We have a small farm. Stepfather Juris Lazda, a very nice and romantic person, also helps. I can no longer tell the sequence of events, but I remember some episodes well.

Refugee carts and troops are moving through our homes day and night. People fall asleep right there in chariots and ores. Livestock tied at the back of the cart.

The pine manor is full of Germans. At night, hollow bombers roar high in the air. Spotlights try to capture them at intersections of rays and shoot like huge lightning in the dark vaults of the sky. Drop the bombs here and there.

Our house was located about a hundred meters from the bridge, so my mother is afraid that she may tumble around the house, put it in bags and carry it to the basement at the edge of the forest. Until the next bag came, a man stole the bag and ran into the forest. We go to the forest with my mother and search under the big Christmas trees in the hope that the thief will hide the bag there so that he can take it again at night. We found a large jar of tomato puree, a new pouf, a rifle and other belongings. Who would have thought that all kinds of good things grow under the Christmas trees. But we didn't find our bag.

No bomb hit the bridge, neither did the house, but two large funnels were knocked out in the basement.

The Germans were not ashamed to eradicate pigs or cattle on a ban such as a ban on farmers destroying the animals themselves. Kārlis, the owner of Krūmiņi, was asked to list the animals. So he probably walked around the house against his will. Also came to our house. The mother was at the barn at that time. Kārlis is not a rooster in the barn, but he asked if we had pigs. The mother replied that it was not. At that moment, the pig grinned loudly. Kārlis smiled and said: "I will write that it is not." After that, the stepfather arranged a hut and a perimeter for the pig in the forest thicket and spent the night with him.

The Germans threw grenades at Negupīte and blew up fish. The bigger ones took it, but the smaller ones turned their bellies up as the white waves washed along the shores and smelled bad.

Once, my mother and I were walking along a highway dam, when the shooting started over the dam, the bullets whistled alone. My mother ran down the dam and called to follow. Then my stubborn nature was revealed. The mother later told the neighbors, "but it doesn't listen, it stands on the embankment and claims that it is not afraid of anyone." We, the children, were not afraid everywhere, and miraculously, no bullet caught us.

For some time the residents were forced to move into the basement of Krūmiņi house, sometimes for self-defense. The basement under the house was very large and had thick walls. Each family had one precinct. We took the necessary pike with us. The rest remained in the house of destiny. The mother buried the potatoes in the pit and leveled the ground. The barrel of salted pork is cut in a shed under the floor. The chicken went somewhere, also in the name of my own chicken Špicka. We also had a big, fat beautiful tomcat Janka. While living in Krūmiņi, Janka, forced by circumstances, turned into a forest brother.

The Germans set up a horse stable in our barn. Oh, how I liked those horses! They swam there in Negupīte.

Since the foster father was a collector in his youth, we had many good books at home. The Germans tossed the books in the water, but we found a bookcase in the woods with broken glass. In the forest, the Germans shed bunkers and brought down tables, chairs and other furniture from nearby houses.

One day my mother discovered that the Germans had dug up our potatoes, boiled them and had fun. Then we went to the stable to save our barrel of meat. A horse was standing right there. The mother told the German steward to take the horse to the horse and take the barrel of meat to Krūmiņi. The German did not object to anything and obeyed his mother.

German soldiers tasted best with bacon and eggs. If we heard a chattering chicken, a German or we, the children, ran to look for eggs. Whoever found it first did. The ancients often respected us, the children, with chocolates. If a local fell ill, he turned to a German paramedic, who even gave him some medicine.

My mother once sent me to Lielvārde for products. You had to walk about three kilometers through the forest, then take a ferry across the Daugava. On the way back, I unloaded my bag by the roadside. Then I see the Germans driving with the stallion, two horses in front. I packed everything in my bag and went towards them. When they arrive at the place where I was sitting, they stop the horses, and a German runs after me, shouting something and waving his hand. If I run after, I have to run away and I can see what my legs are carrying. I look back, he's still running and running. I also. I ran it off, and finally he stopped. At home, my mother found out that I had lost my wallet. Then that's why the German tried to catch me.

We got some money by picking the fees for picking berries and mushrooms in Lielvārde and Ķegums, for which the so-called points were awarded. It was possible to buy products by presenting points.

A country kitchen entered the farmstead of Krūmiņi every day - a thorough boiler with two wheels. Then the soldiers lined up with the pots. I thought I could join that queue too. I found the pot and came to the end of the line. The soldiers are smiling. My turn comes, and a kind cook pours my full pot.

Once I entered the kitchen of Krūmiņi, which is run by Germans. A soldier clenched his elbows with honey. He squeezes the cells and the honey flows in a bowl along his fingers. Honey had probably been stored by the owner.

There was a telegraph in the hallway of the big basement for the Germans, where a soldier handed over encrypted messages, but we, the children, stood around, mouth drops. We were interested in everything.

On the bank of the Daugava, the Germans set up binoculars, and when he was not present, the children lined up near the binoculars, and then we saw Lielvārde up close.

Sometimes at night my mother and I went out of the basement and watched the fire on the opposite bank of the Daugava, where a house often burned. Sparks and bumps of smoke rose against the black sky.

Huge balloons were placed above the Ķegums power plant. However, the station dams were bombed. Something was burning there too, I saw smoke bubbles myself. Later, there was a cable-stayed bridge over the ruined section, but it rocked a lot.

The waters of the Daugava flowed without obstacles, so it became much narrower and shallower. The ice blocks lay directly on the bed. In the middle of Ņegupīte, an old mill wall with a deep pit was revealed. The Germans had sunk boxes of ammunition into the pit. Everyone there could take what and how much they wanted. The boxes broke open. They had bright cartridges of different sizes and colored markings. Medium-sized fireballs were left in the yard. The villagers unscrewed them and poured fuel out. Empty bombs served us to support the bridge long after the war. There were also mines, similar in size and shape to cakes. When the deminers arrived, they asked the children where the mines were, and we all showed them to a large area, so we felt important.

Used sources and references:

NRA. 7/13/2004 When we had a war.

Related objects

Nega (Melderupe) and its surroundings

Nega is still called Melderupi on maps from the 1940s. Along with the construction of the Ķegum HPP, its last 2.6 km was flooded, creating a more than 100 m wide extension of the river. In order to ensure the construction of the Ķegum HPP with gravel, a quarry was built on the eastern bank of the Nega, and a railway bridge was built across the river. The gravel was transported along the 6 km long railway line to the new construction of the HPP with the help of a narrow-gauge railway. The first two kilometers of the railway site are visible both in nature and on LIDAR maps. Further on, the railway site coincides with the modern Jaunjelgava - Ķegum road (P85). On the west bank of the Negus, in the north, about 0.2 km north of the houses of the Bridge Guards (the owners have memories of the Second World War and related events in this place), there is a source - a popular water intake point. Active military activity took place in the vicinity of Nega in both 20th centuries. in world wars. If you look at LIDAR maps and nature, trench positions are visible north of the P85 road and along the banks of the river. To the south of the P85 road, a 0.8 km long ridge of dunes, the top and slopes of which are dotted with trenches, adjoins the flooded part of the Nega from the southwest. On the side of the small forest road that connects the P85 road with the houses of Liepdegumu, there is a standing dune, the rectangular pits on the slopes of which indicate that buildings or warehouses were located here. The mentioned dune is surrounded from the north and west by a strip of ditches about a kilometer long. Man-made negative landforms are also visible south of the P85 road. A dense network of trenches and buildings or/and warehouses (a network of pits of various sizes is in nature and can also be seen on LIDAR maps on the eastern bank of Nega between the P85 road and Širmeļupīti. 1.8 km east of Nega is the cemetery of the Lezmani brothers. You can go to them along the small forest road , which unfolds in the vicinity of ņegas and Širmeļupīte. The third line of trenches (farthest to the south) marked on the map of the National Library of Latvia ""Zusamendruck Riga, Gezeichet u.gedruckt vd Vermessungs"" is clearly visible on LIDAR maps and in nature even today - a century later.

The German army's concrete fire point in the Kegum HPP reservoir near the Nega inlet

It is located in the Ķegum HPP reservoir at the Nega inlet (in front of the Nega houses), on its left bank. One of the most visually and scenically impressive and also the best-preserved concrete fireplaces, washed by the waves of the Daugava. It can be seen from a larger piece. A footbridge has been built from the shore to the top of the fire point (overgrown with grass). Narrow-gauge railway (?) tracks embedded in the concrete walls of the fire station. You can get inside from the side of the footbridge. This is one of the fire points of the defense line of the German army during the First World War on the left bank of the Daugava, which can more or less be traced along the entire length of the left bank of the Daugava. The aforementioned line of defense is a large-scale military system that has not really been evaluated as a whole until now. The remains of the fire point can be seen by boat on the Ķegum HPP.

Prince Leopold Straße (Prinz – Leopold Straße)

The name of the place (road) during the First World War - "Prinz - Leopold Straße" - Prince Leopold's road. About 7 km long historical forest road or the place that started at the junction of Große Kurfürsten Damm and Kaiser Damm near the so-called Kurland Denkmal and winds through the forest towards Birzgale, connecting with the First World wartime narrow-gauge railway line: Lāčplēsis – Latgali. To the west of the road and about 2 km south of the site of the Kurland Denkmal is a First World War shooting range. Today, the Prince Leopold Road can be walked, cycled and driven (under suitable conditions). The road crosses Konupīti and the Nega tributary.

It is thought that the soldiers of the German army, staying for a long time on the front of the left bank of the Daugava, named this road after the Bavarian Prince Leopold (1846 - 1930), who led the German and Austro-Hungarian forces on the Eastern Front during the First World War.

Possible location of Otomaras Oškalns bunker

A remote and difficult to access place - a large forest massif about 200 m west of the Nega river and about 0.5 km southwest of the Nega flood. It is recommended to go to the mentioned place on foot or by bicycle, using LIDAR maps and geographical coordinates. In the mentioned place, there is an inland dune embankment about a kilometer long (in the W-E direction) and half a kilometer wide (in the N-S direction) covered with coniferous forest. At the top of the northern and eastern slopes of the dune massif are well-preserved trenches, believed to date from the Second World War. Harijs Jaunzems (former Ķegums HPP engineer) believes that the bunker of the Red Army partisan unit formed by Otomaras Oškalns was located in this area (the exact point is unknown).

Große Kurfürsten Damm

The approximately 4 km long west-east oriented forest road marked on the maps of the First World War started at the former Kurland Denkmal (Kurland Denkmal) or later popularly known as the Mother's Monument and ended at two roads (passable in nature) Hütten Straße and Morgen Straße junctions. Approximately 2 km long, it stretches as a straight forest-dirt road, 0.8 km - a gravel road (coincides with the Egles - Kaulupes road formed by the Latvian State Forests), and the rest - a road that cannot be driven by road transport, but can be walked in nature or can be driven on a bicycle - since. Judging by another map (Zusamendruck Riga, 1: 100,000) and LIDAR maps, a World War I German army camp or warehouse (Lager) was located at the junction of the Great Kurfirst Dam and Morgen Straße.

It is thought that the name, which was born here during the stay of the German army during the First World War, comes from Kurfürstendamm - the name of one of the central avenues of Berlin (in memory of the Elector of Brandenburg), which today is a popular sightseeing and shopping place for tourists. The name of the avenue was first mentioned between 1767 and 1787.

Tomes Evangelical Lutheran Church

The first known church was built in Tome in 1644. 1907 - 1908 instead of a wooden building, a stone church was built with Baron Schilling's money. 1956 the church was demolished and a kolkhoz chicken farm was built from its stones. The church visible today, which is located between the former Tomes elementary school (the school was closed after the school reform, the Ķegum County Museum was established there) and the Tomes cemetery, was built between 1999 and 2003. at the initiative of the Deer Family (USA). The current altarpiece was painted by Sandijs Greiškans from Kegu, after Ata Grunde in 1932. photos of the made altarpiece. The organ was donated to the church by the Lutheran congregation from Sweden.

A photo can be found in "Lost Latvia" of the National Library of Latvia (LNB) showing Tomas Church during the First World War after its destruction in 1916. The Tomes elementary school next to the church also suffered in the battles of the same year.

"Latvijas Kareivī" issue 147 of 1938 contains the article "On the towns and villages of the native land", which mentions the church of Tomes: "Further on, the road leads past the church of Tomes, which in 1916 destroyed by the Russians, thinking that there was a German observation post there. There is a small congregation - around 250 members - in 1922. with great energy started to restore the church and within 10 years built a new tower and an altar with an altarpiece by the artist Grunde. Now the church with its white walls, brown window and door frames and neat interior leaves a pleasant impression".

The former Tomes elementary school

The former Tomes elementary school is located between the Baldones - Tomes road (V4, called "Düna Straße" on the First World War map), the Tomes Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Tomes cemetery. The school, like the neighboring church, suffered during the battles of the First World War (1916). In "Lost Latvia" of the National Library of Latvia (LNB) you can see a photo of the first Tomes school in the house of Siliņi (1925). 1926 built the present stone school building. After the school reform, the school was closed. Today, the Ķegum County Museum and Library are located here. 2017 On December 13, the sculpture "Man needs a dog" dedicated to Regina Ezer was opened in the courtyard of the museum, sculpted by Aigars Zemītis. On the wall of the building, a commemorative plaque has been installed for the inhabitants of Tome who were deported to Siberia.

Wheel Hill

The highest point of the massif of inland dunes, located to the west of the village of Tomes, is Mount Rata (67.8 m above sea level). Light pine forests stand in its vicinity, allowing a good view of the backs and slopes of the impressive dunes. It is easy to get to Rata Hill on foot (0.6 km) from the "Sēņotaju māja" recreational area of the Latvian State Forests (LVM). On both sides of the small forest road along which we go towards the mountain, nature (and LIDAR maps) show more than 40 similar-sized quadrangular pits and three trench-like trenches about 50 m long. It is possible that during the First World War, a German army warehouse was located here, surrounded on three sides by the nearby dunes. It is thought that the concrete structures at the highest point of the Wheel Hill are the remains of the former fire observation (or triangulation?) tower, the wooden parts of which were attached to the concrete pillars. An article about a ski hike in the Rata Mountains can be found in a Soviet-era periodical. The annual mushroom picking championship takes place in the vicinity of the Rata hill.

Šautuve (shooting gallery)

Supposedly - an open-air shooting range built by the German army of the First World War for shooting practice. To be found in the largest forest massif between Negus, the former Kurland Denkmal at the so-called Prince Leopold Street (Prinz – Leopold Straße). The object may be difficult to find for the uninitiated, so it is recommended to use geographic coordinates for the search. The vicinity of the shooting range is covered with young pine trees, wolves live in the vicinity (you can find their feces). LIDAR maps and nature show a continuous line of trenches 1.5 km long southeast of the shooting range, while in the northwest a line of short (about 50 m long) and interrupted trenches stretches all the way to the Ķegum HPP.

The object appears in nature as an approximately 300 m long, straight, northeast-southwest oriented "passage", surrounded on both sides by ramparts up to 2 m high, overgrown with lichens and mosses. The highest rampart is at the end of the shooting range (3-4 m). The shooting range is surrounded by rectangular pits of the same size. On a World War I-era map, this location is labeled "Schießst.". Presumably, it served as a shooting training ground ("Schießstand" in German - shooting range). In the direction to Tomi (up to Tomei) two more shooting locations are marked on the mentioned map. Tomei is found and seen in nature closest to nature.