The Memories of Alma Dreimane

Dreimane, Alma; the daughter of Osvalds; born in 1909; lived on the “Jaungaiňi” farmstead in Tukums district, Zante parish; deported on June 14, 1941, to Krasnoyarsk Territory, Kazachinsk district; escaped in 1946; deported again on November 21, 1950; released on June 18, 1955. Archive File Nr. 15646.

From: Aizvestie. 1941. gada 14. jűnijs. (The Deported. June 14, 1941)

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Alma Dreimane: Now comes June 14th.. So, June 14th arrives, and that man in the furthest house there has had relatives visiting him the previous day, and one of the relatives – a woman – comes to our house and says that she’d like to go to Jelgava tomorrow morning. Would I be able to go and help the women there take care of the livestock and … Yes, OK, fine. So I go over there that evening, but, you know, I can’t sleep that night – something like… like blackness comes over me, something like nightmares. And that morning… Yes, at 3 in the morning they’re going to the station – the husband is taking the wife to the station. And I say, “I’ll go. You go back and sleep some more.” You know, because there’s fieldwork to be done, ploughing. I say, “Sleep some more. I’ll take her to the station.” So I go, and come back, and take care of the livestock. The other women keep telling me to go back to bed, saying “You haven’t slept since 3 in the morning. Go, sleep.” I can’t sleep. No, I’ll clean the kitchen and pick up, so that they don’t have to … Then in comes … [..]

Then in comes a man – one of our boys is with him, but he was a very active member. He says, “You need to come home. You need to go to Tukums – to sign some kind of documents there,” the boy says to me. Yes… And now… Well, if I must go, then I must go. So we go. He follows behind me, instead of next to me – abiding by all of the rules. [emphatically] At a neighbour’s house there’s a young man, a classmate of mine – at that moment he’s working, ploughing. We come up to where he’s working, to the roadside. And he says to me, “Dear Alma, here are you going?” I say, “I don’t know where I’m being taken. Either they’ll put me in prison or shoot me.” His hands fall to his sides. And the other guy is mumbling behind my back. But see, as I… [laughs] But the main thing was the walk – him following behind me. Yes. I see on the road – a full truck. I’m the last one. So we go inside so that I can get the..the things … I see that they’ve got small children, too.

Baiba Bela: In the truck?

Alma Dreimane: Yes. Now I … I don’t understand, I don’t understand … what to take and what to leave.

Baiba Bela: And if you’re told that you’re only being taken to Tukums to sign some documents, nothing else?

Alma Dreimane: Yes. And the Russian is telling me to take all of my belongings, the Russian officer.

Baiba Bela: And what does he say? He doesn’t say that you’re being taken far away?

Alma Dreimane: The Latvian, he – no. Yes. And so now I, well… Well, he says, “Take something.” I take a pillow, a blanket and one bed sheet. He says … [..] He says, “Take all of the bedding.” But what am I going to take out on purpose? Yes. And now…

Baiba Bela: And some kind of clothing? Or nothing?

Alma Dreimane: You know, I left with only the clothes on my back.

Baiba Bela: And only that – a blanket, a bed sheet, yes? And something…

Alma Dreimane: Yes, yes. And now, as I had just recently arrived, I still had a few things that weren’t unpacked, for example, a big basket with balls of yarn. I dig around, dig around, and finally take a ball of yarn. For what, why I took it, I still don’t know to this day. So, and now I … [..] The Russian says, “As you wish.” And, you know, it finally dawned on me that when we were being thrown out of the house they gave us along bread for those three months. And I asked for bread for three people. He says, “What do you mean, for three people?” An old lady had come to visit. “That old lady is your dependent?” I say, “No, I have a daughter.” I thought he would crush me underfoot. [Next is a very expressive, theatrical dialogue.] He just keeps coming closer to me, step by step, saying, “You have a daughter? You have a daughter? Where is she, the daughter?” I say, “What do you mean?! During the school year she lives with my mother. She lives closer to school.” “Oh, a daughter,” he says, “As you wish.” Well, of course, I chose to not take her along, to go alone.

Baiba Bela: That must have been difficult – to decide?

Alma Dreimane: She was taken by scarlet fever. One way or the other, she departed. [Very pensively.] And there was a young couple … there was a very young child in the truck, he had come from that, well, he had taken only a few little things along… “I took my most precious possession with me – the child.” And both of them stayed there.

Baiba Bela: The couple and the …?

Alma Dreimane: No, the husband. He was taken away to the labour camps, and the child died while still in Krasnoyarsk. And then we began to drive.

Baiba Bela: And did you take any food along, any bread or …?

Alma Dreimane: You know, almost nothing. I don’t remember about the bread. You know, a little piece of smoked meat, just a little piece, and probably a slice of bread, too …

Baiba Bela: And what was it like after that? The truck took you to the Tukums train station?

Alma Dreimane: To Tukums, by truck to Tukums. With sentries, two or so on each side with weapons, so that we …

Baiba Bela: Wouldn’t run away.

Alma Dreimane: They boasted … They had begun at about 4:00 in the morning. It was awful – people still in bed, they go in, rest their guns on the end of the bed and make them get up and get dressed. Yes. And the local secretary had wanted to save me. They had driven to the village…but they said that they still had to go get me. She said, “She’s not at home. She went to Riga.” The young man who came to get me, though, he said, “No. I just saw her last night.” Yes. And that was the end of that. And so we began to drive. Yes.

End of interview excerpt.

NMV 374: ALMA DREIMANE, born 1909.
Interviewed in Jaunauce, Latvia, on June 18, 1996.
Interviewed by Baiba Bela, transcribed by Aija Siltâne.
Edited and prepared for publication by Baiba Bela-Krűmiňa.
Complete text published in Mutvârdu vçstures avoti. Izlase. Edited by Mâra Zirnîte and Maija Hinkle. Riga, 2004.