The Memories of Hilda Zemzare
Zemzare, Hilda; the daughter of Andrejs; born in 1909; lived on the
Strubenči farmstead in Jēkabpils district, Sēlpils parish; deported on
June 14, 1941, to Krasnoyarsk Territory, Nazarovo district; in the Norilsk (Krasnoyarsk
Territory) labour camp from July 13, 1946, to August 30, 1952; after that in
a special settlement; released on February 27, 1957. Archive File Nr. 16928.
From: Aizvestie. 1941. gada 14. jūnijs. (The Deported. June 14, 1941)
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manner of speech.
Hilda Zemzare: That was in 1942. After that, in August, they came to
get us we were being taken to go fishing. Veras little Jānītis was ill,
he had diphtheria. Minna Rubens was there, Nīče
We were taken to Nosoboyev
[Vai tas nav tas pats kā Nosovoye četrus teikumus tālāk??]. We hadnt gone
far, when someone came running after us, shouting that Veras Jānītis had
died. He was already choking for air. Vera stayed there. There, in Nosovoye
we lived in tents.
Inta Kraskēviča: How many of you were there?
Hilda Zemzare: Many. There were about 200 of us people. We were there
about a week. Then we were taken to Agapitovo. There was a fishing village
there. There were Volga Germans there. That was October of 1942. They set up
tents there, and put a barrel in the middle, for warmth. We were given flour
to eat. Then we mixed it with water and fried it on the barrel like
flatbread. There was a doctor there named Aleksandrovna, and Mrs. Korns, a
dentist. Somehow Aleksandrovna became fond of Elga. She was pretty. She had
a pretty little coat and scarf and hat. And so she prescribed 200 grams of
bread per day for her, or
And then we were sleeping there, and everything
froze to ice, even though we stoked the fire all night long. We had to go
work. Rafts were frozen in the Yenisei, and we had to chop them out and pull
large logs ashore. Our brigade leader was someone named Leonīds from
Latgale. He had two brothers and a mother who was quite tall. They were
Latgalians. Mrs. Radziņš from Gulbene was also there, Mrs. Natārs and her
daughter Maija, too. The girl was a weak little thing. And then we broke
those logs out of the water and pulled them ashore, stacked them in piles,
and one fine day one of those logs escaped and pressed up against my leg.
Good thing that the women caught that log. And then that leg of mine started
to grow. There were also big strings there. We chopped and stole them, then
dried them, and then wove braids out of them and sewed something like
slippers to wear on our feet. We didnt have anything, of course, only
little shoes. Then we were warm. Thats the way it was.
Inta Kraskēviča: How many of you were there in the tent?
Hilda Zemzare: About fifty, I dont really know it was long, the
tent. We were at the edge, my mother slept on the right-hand side. I warmed
a brick and placed it by her feet her feet were always very cold. And then
one evening it was already late I was warming the brick and putting it
by those feet of hers, and all of a sudden I felt that she wasnt moving...
And she had died
And then I ran over to Mrs. Nīče, to my neighbour, for
some help. There was a certain tent, a special tent there, where all of the
dead were placed. Many people had already died
Dogs had chewed the heads of
those they had not managed to bury yet
of the dead people
fishermens dogs. And so Mrs. Nīče helped me. Then I went to the fishermen,
arranged for some boards, made a little coffin. Not just out of boards,
though, we put sawdust in there and whatnot
The ground was awfully frozen.
And then Mrs. Kom [Vai tā varētu būt drukas kļūda? Vēlāk viņa stāsta par
Korn kundzi, ar kuru viņa gāja zvejot?] and Maija Lazdiņa and Ksenija
we all went to chop out the grave. We were shown where the
graves were. But of course we couldnt chop very deeply, we made it shallow,
shallow, all of the ground was completely frozen. And then it was early
evening when we put her on a sled; it was snowing. And then we buried her
there. She was close to 80. And then another Jewish man had frozen there
by the Yenisei, he had gone to trade things at the other kolkhoz. [..] When
Mrs. Lazdiņš died, I dont know how she was buried
I was very ill when she
was buried. But in general, who died later whole families died off there.
Whole families died out. There was a family named Ragailis, there were five
of them, and probably all of them died. The Ragailis family. The Voicītis
almost all of them died, they put the mother and the little boy
Andrītis together in one coffin. Valentīna
no, Paulīne froze on the river.
Mrs. Lazdiņš was from Daugavpils, her son Konrāds died. The Nīčes son
Arnolds died. About half of the people died by spring. We were on sort of a
shore, and then there was a valley and then another sort of hill. On that
hill was a big, big hole, and they took everyone up there and threw them all
in that hole you couldnt dig anything in the winter that was considered
the North, Agapitovo, that counted as the North. They dragged everybody up
there and threw them in that hole without coffins, without anything, just
threw them in there naked. I still see it all right in front of me. Then in
the spring they covered the hole.
Inta Kraskēviča: How long were you there?
Hilda Zemzare: Our brigade leader was a German
When I was sick with
my leg, I was put in the hospital. There was
I was there together with my
daughter until 1944. Since I was considered among the good workers, I was
given the same amount of bread as the workers were given. Then we went to
live in dugout buildings. There was a ditch down the middle, water poured in.
Inta Kraskēviča: There were no men there?
Hilda Zemzare: No, only boys and some old men, those who were still
alive. When I was no longer able to carry Elga to the bathhouse, then I
asked a boy named Paulītis to carry her to the bathhouse. Sleeping in the
dugout buildings took place in two levels. At first I was on the bottom, and
then I was moved to the top. One old lady did not go to work, but stoked the
fire. Then we were given some kind of help from America egg powder, cream
of wheat, some flour. That was 1943 already. [..] There were bedbugs there
what a nightmare. [..] We boiled mushrooms, we had salt. We stole the salt
and then boiled them. Oh, the mushrooms its unbelievable how many. And
then we picked black currants, very, very big
Even though it was without
sugar, we had jam, and we ate it, but we had to watch out for wolves. In the
summertime it was fine, there were onions, wild onions. Then in 1943 we were
sent fishing on the Yenisei. If there were no fish, we didnt get any food.
Mrs. Korn and I were sent across the river to fish. There were little
fishing huts there. We left the children in the huts and went fishing during
the night to the lakes that were further off, so that there would be food to
eat. I row the boat; Mrs. Korn throws the net into the river. Then one time
we have to go back to our real camp to get bread. Mrs. Korn goes off to get
the bread; I stay there all alone with the girls. Mrs. Korn says that shell
be back tomorrow, but a storm comes up, and, you understand. And she cannot
get back, an awful storm, awful waves
One night I leave the girls alone and
go fishing. I stand there all night and catch only one little fish. I come
back home, boil the one fish, cut it in half for the girls, nothing left for
me. Another time it went like this we go off to catch some fish, a storm
comes up and were thrown out onto the shore, the storm subsides. We go back
home, and the girls are soaking wet, rain is falling on them, the roof has a
hole. [Her voice breaks.]
End of interview excerpt.
NMV 87: HILDA ZEMZARE, born 1909.
Interviewed in Jelgava, Latvia, in 1994.
Interviewed by Inta Kraskēviča.
Transcribed by Ilona Grūbe.