5 Names: Blūms, Jaunsudrabiņš, Michelson, Saknītis, Steppler
Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš is a very famous Latvian author. He was born on August 25, 1877 in farm Krodziņi of Neretas pagasts and died in 1962 in Germany. His father's first name was Jānis and the mother was Ieva b. Saknītis.
I have no intention to publish on this Site the biographies of Latvian authors even if they were famous, but the name of J.Jaunsudrabiņš can be encountered in some other pages of ROOTS=SAKNES, and I feel some more information about him is needed. The name of Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš has already been mentioned in one of the first texts that I prepared for the Site - his photograph was found on one of two photographs of the Jaunākās ziņas team (you may connect to the appropriate Page). Normally I published the enlarged pictures of the persons found on this photograph, but in this case I scanned a photograph of J.Jaunsudrabiņš that was sold in prewar Latvia like photographs of other writers and other persons engaged in culture.
J.Jaunsudrabiņš studied in Nereta pagasts school and graduated from Vecsātu agriculture school in 1897. His first idea was of becoming a painter and he studied in V.Blūms school of drawing in Rīga (1899-1904). He began to publish fiction in 1906 and later wrote stories, novels, plays. May be the best known of his books is the book of childhood memories "Baltā grāmata" (The White book) first published in 1914 and 1920, which became very popular in Latvia and is obligatory read by any schoolchild.
In 1944 he left the region of Latvia as a war refugee. He lived in the Federal Republic of Germany in Körbecke at the family of his daughter Lilija Steppler. He died and was buried there (1962), but in 1997 his remains were reburied in Kišķu cemetery near Nereta as well as his daughter's remains.
His book "Baltā grāmata" was used on this Site as the source of information for the overview of the life of Jewish traveling salesmen and for this goal three sketches of this book are also recounted here. At the same time, these sketches inform a bit about the childhood of the author and about the life of Latvian country people.
To be honest, I initially felt myself on a slippery ground when proposing the texts of this author to eventual Jewish readers of ROOTS=SAKNES. Some of Latvian war refugees fled to the Western countries at the end of the WW2, because they had collaborated with Nazis, but most of them were not collaborators, of course. I imagined that any reader should know about eventual J.Jaunsudrabiņš collaboration with Nazis if it ever took place, but I was not well informed about his life during the Nazi time in Latvia. On the one hand, I possessed a copy of the book "Baltā grāmata" printed by the Nazi occupation regime, but, on the other hand, I knew that Soviet officials and KGB tried to persuade him to return to Soviet Latvia and to support the regime, though their attempts failed. It is clear that they would never started these negotiations with an active Nazi supporter. Finally, I left off thinking on this problem when read the biography of a painter Leo Michelson in /Māksla un Arhitektūra/.
It was informed in this book that L.Michelson, a painter, visited his old friend J.Jaunsudrabiņš in Germany after the war in 1952 and painted his portrait there. As L.Michelson was born in a Jewish entrepreneur family in Riga, I do not think he ever wished to paint a true Nazi supporter. I am sure that Leo Michelson is the same painter to whom the Michelson Museum of Art in Marshall, Texas, US is devoted, in spite of the fact that the information in the Home page of the Museum and in the book /Māksla un Arhitektūra/ contradicts including the birth year, it does not seem very likely that two painters named Leo Michelson could be born in Riga. I think I should contact this Museum and learn more about relations of L.Michelson with Latvia and about his friendship with J.Jaunsudrabiņš, but I have postponed this project.
© Bruno Martuzāns. 1995-2002