zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) ROOTS=SAKNES zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) Ethnicities zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) Germans zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) Help





mazpuke3.GIF (425 bytes) Great Migration of Germans, September - October 1939, day by day


15 Names: Asmus, Augškāps, Bērziņš, Eberhards, Eggert, Eglītis, Fīrhufs (Vierhuff), Hanovičs, Munters, Nietzsche, Röpenack, Silenieks, Štubendorfs, Ulmanis, Veitmanis


The resettlement of ethnic Germans from Latvia to Posen (now Poznan) region took place in the fall of 1939. In this Page the events of that period are described based on newspaper information of 1939. Not all was written in newspapers, however. It is known that the rumors about coming migration circulated in the German community a good time before any official decision was published.

I used information of two newspapers:
1) JZ - Jaunākās Ziņas (The latest news), that was the most popular newspaper in Latvian of that time, and
2) VV - Valdības vēstnesis (The government messenger), that was the main source of official information.

I could not study yet all issues of JZ corresponding to these events, but I have filtered all information in VV of the second half of 1939.

Another abbreviation I used in this Page was LTA - Telegraph Agency of Latvia.

In case you do not know yet, I am informing that at that time the main positions in Latvia - the State President and the President of Ministers - occupied Kārlis Ulmanis without constitutional grounds and therefore he is usually named the dictator. The Parliament was discharged, and the Cabinet of Ministers became the lawmaker. The economics was seriously controlled by the state institutions, for example, in many cases the maximum prices were set, and the sellers who exceeded the limits were fined.

The information here is organized in two Pages. This one covers the period September- October 1939, and you may connect to the Page for the next period November-December.

The day of August 23, 1939 could be considered as the starting moment for the German resettlement.


August 23

The German-Soviet Pact is signed. It is agreed in the secret additional protocol of the treaty that Latvia will be included in the Soviet sphere of interests. The texts of this Pact and the secret protocol is available on the Internet.

September 1

JZ: The newspaper digests the speech of the Chancellor of Germany Adolf Hitler held at 10 a.m. today. He has informed that the German troops began to bomb Poland at 5.45 a.m. A.Hitler also informed that yesterday (August 31) Germany and the USSR both ratified the German-Soviet Pact at the same moment.

September 5

VV: The Ambassador of Germany in Latvia Ulrich von Kotze paid a visit on September 4 to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Vilhelms Munters and they also discussed the information of some foreign newspapers asserting that the fate of the Baltic countries has also been decided in the Pact between Germany and the USSR. The Ambassador assured the Minister that nothing similar this could occur, because Germany had signed a treaty of non-aggression with Latvia that would exclude any agreements with third states which could contradict to this treaty between Germany and Latvia.
September 18
VV: According to the information of the Telegraph Agency of Latvia (LTA) the troops of the USSR have entered Poland on September 17. The official Moscow announcements concerning the military actions are reviewed in the newspaper.
September 29
VV: In Moscow the negotiations between Germany and the USSR have terminated and several treaties have been signed including the Treaty on borders and friendship. The newspaper does not inform, of course, that in a secret protocol of this Treaty the USSR agreed not to lay obstacles to the resettlement of ethnic Germans to Germany from the regions that have come in the sphere of the Soviet influence.
October 9

VV publishes the information of the LTA October 7 that Germany has started a wide action towards the resettlement of the German minority to Germany. The main principles of this resettlement were stated in the speech of the German Chancellor (A.Hitler) on October 6. The LTA also informs that the German Ambassador von Kotze has paid a visit to the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs and has expressed the hope that Latvia government would support the resettlement of its citizens of German ethnicity. The LTA informs that the problem should be solved by contracting of relevant agreements between both states and that the German government stressed that the resettlement was in no way connected with the treaties between the Baltic countries and the USSR, but this resettlement should move away the racial elements that should not be assimilated. The principal agreement between both governments has been reached, and the necessary negotiations should be started in the nearest days.
October 12

VV publishes the communication of the Minister of the Community matters (Sabiedrisko lietu ministrs) Alfrēds Bērziņš. Here is my translation of this communication:
As it follows from the letters which the members of the Cabinet of Ministers have also received, in Riga some rumors have been spreading in connection with the resettlement of Germans and Latvia citizens of German ethnicity to Germany as if the properties and the lives of the citizens of Latvia were in a near and inevitable danger. The spreaders of these rumors connect this danger with the Treaty on Mutual assistance concluded with Soviet Russia. I declare that these rumors have no ground and are spread with too visible goal to rise fears and uncertainty.
One can decide, however, that the spreaders of the rumors were rather well informed about the secret diplomacy of Nazi Germany and the USSR.
October 12
The LTA informs in VV that the first meeting of the commission for organizing the resettlement of the Latvia citizens of German ethnicity has taken place. The German part proposed that the Germans should be released of the Latvia citizenship by March 15, 1940. The Latvia part thought that the resettlement should be completed as soon as possible.
October 13

This day the well known speech of the State President K.Ulmanis was published in all newspapers. The President spoke in the meeting of both the State and Culture councils on October 12. As far as I understand, these councils were lacking the constitutional grounds and consisted of the collaborators of the dictator.
In this speech The President once more assured the people that the Treaty with the USSR is not dangerous at all. He said that some Latvians also desired to emigrate together with German emigrants and he added: "whatever were their reasons, if anybody wants to go, let they go, but they should know that the emigration in present is possible only in the same way as for the Germans of Latvia citizenship - that is one should go for ever." These words were applauded by the participants of the meeting.
October 14

VV informs that the newspapers of the USSR announced that the rumors about an eventual connection of the German resettlement and the Treaties between the Baltic states and the USSR are wrong and cast slurs upon the policy of both Germany and the USSR.


October 18
Now 4 commercial advertisements are copied of JZ and discussed.

At this time the preparation for resettlement is going on intensively, in spite of the fact that no agreement is signed. People know that the moving is inevitable and begin to sold out their properties. Evidently the market situation changes seriously. For example, newspaper advertisements propose a lot of furniture though not always they inform what the reason for selling is. At the left you see two advertisements about the furniture that should be chiefly sold because of the departure, and the owners directly inform about this reason.

The next is an advertisement that a photograph workshop is being sold urgently because of the departure. The owner of this actual workshop did not mention his name, but the address was enough to find out that he was F.Nitče. In /Izceļotāji/ one can find additional information about him - Friedrich Nietzsche, b. Nov.16, 1880 in Rīga and about his wife Pulcheria b. Aug. 6 in Rīga. By the way, they both were the citizens of Germany.


Somebody wanted to sell a large canvas of Prof. Klever, but I could not find this painter among those who worked in Latvia, maybe he worked in Germany.


October 18

VV: On October 17 Germany officially communicates the reasons for German resettlement. The resettlement has no connection with the treaties between the Baltic countries and the USSR, because it was planned long before these treaties were signed. It will also be organized in other European countries, where Germans are residing, in order the problem of minorities would be finally solved, and the resettlement is completely voluntary without any pressure.

- All German schools should be closed to November 1.
- Next Sunday the German Pastors will conduct the last divine services in their parishes.
- The railway management ordered that the duties of the departing Germans should be fulfilled by the remaining workers and new ones can not be hired.
- The disabled persons of German ethnicity, who live in the charitable institutions of Riga (650 persons), are also willing to join resettlers.
- The German staff members of Latvia University are saying farewells to their colleagues and students.
- Some dog owners have sold their valuable dogs, but it could happen that it will be allowed to take dogs to Germany after some formalities are met.


October 19
JZ: Some more advertisements of resettlers.

In the previous week all jewelry and similar shops were closed for taking stock by the Inspection of prices and the Police. All the valuables in these shops were registered. Now the shops can continue their work. So do the jewelry workshop of Adele Štubendorfs. Evidently, the owners have time just for handing the finished articles to the customers.

The share in an enterprise of delicatessen making is also offered. The advertisement does not inform that the previous owner is moving to Germany, but it is quite easy to suppose.

The next advertisement informs that everybody can buy their plates in the photographer shop "Eggert" by October 25. As you know, at that time the negative photographs were made on glass plates. Almost all photographers kept these plates for the case, if the client wanted to copy more photographs. Now the owners of this shop wants to sell these plates out. The TD of 1939 informs that the owner of the shop was E. von Eggert, but no information about him was found on the list of emigrants.


October 19

- First 59 resettlers left Liepaja port on the board of "Frigg". They were the citizens of Germany, who resided in Latvija.
- Now, when the registration of the resettlers has almost been completed, the packaging of the properties of the resettlers has started. The German society has organized in Riga 5 shops of packaging materials and will offer 30,000 boxes, 9000 kg of wood shavings, 15,000 kg of jute, 11,000 kg of nails and 20,000 wooden plates for making inscriptions on packages. The harbor has reserved 10,000 sq. meters for storing of packages, and 2,500 of them are now filled in.
- The Minister of Justice ordered that the judges desiring to emigrate should not take part in court sessions anymore.
- A report of Anšlavs Eglītis (a well-known Latvian author) about the German colony Irši [Hirschenhof] is published . Already in the train he has heard talks how cheaply Germans sell out their properties. That a horse was bought for 60 Ls (normal price about 200-300 Ls), two dozens of geese were bought for 10 Ls etc. In the colony he also observed that many, especially elderly, peasants could hardly begin to negotiate prices, rather agreed with everything and gave up as lost. Almost all colonists are ready to emigrate, but the author did not see any happy resettler.


October 20
JZ: More advertisements

In Ogre a resort house is being sold. The advertisement contains detailed description of the house. It comprises 12 apartments with furniture, a dining-room etc. It has a physical-therapheutics room with short-range waves, diathermy, artificial sunlight etc. Additionally it also has a large greenhouse. Maksis Fīrhufs (Vierhuff) b. Oct. 16, 1887 in Rīga, living in Ogre, Bērzu aleja 8 was found on the list of resettlers /Izceļotāji/ as well as Elīzabete Fīrhufs b. Volferess b. Aug.22, 1875 in Raunas pag., living in Ogre, Bērzu aleja 8 , who presumably was the wife of Maksis.

Those who stay in Latvia have also become active and try to buy necessary things from the resettlers. There are advertisements of secondhand dealers, and many people want to buy something for themselves. One of them wishes a treadle sewing machine but without any middlemen.

May be a resettler wanted to sell a modern, Swedish, round, cast iron stove lined with chamotte?

VV: publishes the Law on the future hiring of the living premises after the Latvian citizens of German ethnicity would have emigrated. The Law is adopted on October 19 and becomes forcible at the day of the publication. It is stated in the Law that all contracts of renting become null and void after the release from Latvia citizenship. The agreements about the transfer of premises contracted with the emigrants have no legal force. The left premises should be registered and hired again only with permission of the relevant Police authorities. The Minister of the Interior Kornelijs Veitmanis issued similar orders a week before (October 13).

- Resettlers are allowed to sell their coke for central heating only with permission of the firing commissioner to the persons who are allowed to buy coke.
- 500 persons applied in Riga for apartments of resettlers, but only 50 apartments are registered as free.
- The Ministry of Agriculture ordered all the buyers of grain to buy all grain that the resettlers could offer.
- The spreaders of false information are punished. Vilhelms Eberhards with 1000 Ls fine or arrest to 3 months, his brother Ādolfs with 300 Ls fine or arrest to 1 month, Oto Asmus with 100 Ls fine or 1 month of arrest. All of them distributed false information about the resettlement of local Germans. I could not find these persons on the list of emigrants /Izceļotāji/ in spite of their German names.


October 20
JZ: More advertisements

A lot of packaging materials is needed and this market becomes active.
G.Hanovičs offers plywood for packaging at low price. Gecelis Hanovičs b. in Rīga, June 21, 1909 /Tirgotāji/ at that time possessed a special plywood shop at the address Grēcinieku 25.

Boxes and trunks are sold in the shop of ironware at Kr. Barona str. 27. The owner of this shop is Jānis Silenieks (b. in Viesīte, January 3, 1875) /Tirgotāji/.

Boxes and chips for packaging are sold at the shop "War disabled persons" Brīvības str. 2.

- The Society of the houseowners of Riga discussed the problems that could arise in the lodging market of Riga city due to the emigration of Germans. It is expected that about 10,000 flats could be vacate.


October 23

- About 400 former German students should be moved to Latvian schools, because their parents do not emigrate and German schools will be closed.
- Many future resettlers visited Riga cemeteries this weekend. Some of them are wishing to sell the places in cemeteries, but the problem of selling should be solved in the appropriate parish.
- Yesterday the activity in the Riga flea market was very high. Especially many furniture articles, dogs and cats were offered. There were thousands of buyers.
- A fire occurred on Saturday at Kieģelcepļu farm in Jaunsvirlaukas pagasts. The corn-shed with forage, machines etc. was burned down. The total losses were about 10,000 Lats. The fire case is being investigated. The owner of the farm is Baron Jūlijs Repenaks, who is going to resettle in the nearest future. Jūlijs von Röpenack b. Febr. 12, 1892 in Jaunsvirlaukas pag. emigrated together with other 7 family members /Izceļotāji/.

October 25

The speech of the Minister of Education Jūlijs Augškāps at the meeting of the Culture chambers is published in VV. At that time pretty many ministers spoke about the situation in the state and in the world. Like some others officials J.Augškaps informs the people that the emigration of Germans will cause many difficulties in national economy and service, because many experts and specialists of important branches are leaving the country. Now it is necessary to teach new people for those positions.
In the same issue of VV the first orders of the liquidation of German schools were published.
October 27

VV publishes the order of Railway officials that the German resettlers could be transported by railway in groups for 25% of the regular price. They are allowed to take with them up to 100 kg of luggage.
October 30

This day the Treaty between Latvia and Germany about the resettlement of Latvia's citizens of German ethnicity is signed. The text of the Treaty is published in VV both in Latvian and German. Both the Latvian and the German texts are available on this site.

The next period November-December is covered in another Page.


© Bruno Martuzāns. 2001-2002