|Katrina with her daughters,
Skaidrite, Vilma and Rasma
Katrina was back on her own with three little children to bring up. Dunika had been the scene of some grim battle between the retreating German soldiers and the marching Soviet army. Katrina returned to find her home destroyed by the invading Soviet forces and all her animals gone. Half the house had been burnt down. She began building her home and her farm bit by bit from scratch. But it was years before there was any semblance of normalcy in our lives. The village was besieged by Soviet forces. Latvia which had been an independent nation since 1918 was now conquered by Soviet Union and brought under its political regime. Soldiers of the Red Army marched the streets and raided homes with impunity. Each family was permitted to keep just enough to feed all the members; the rest had to be given up. Katrina was allowed one cow, one pig and a few poultry birds.
In the balcony of her apartment
I can still recall the chill we experienced during the unannounced visits of the soldiers. They would prod and push to see if we were hiding anything that we were not supposed to have in the house. It was unmitigated terror. We had hay to cut, stack and keep for which my mother hired farm labour. One young Lithuanian came to work in the farm. There was more widespread poverty in Lithuania (if that was possible) than in Latvia which barely survived. But it was illegal in the Communist regime for people to move from one region to another without permission. The local Soviet police were possibly tipped off by neighbours about the young man working for us and they came charging one morning. They threatened to shoot at the haystack in the barn and set it on fire if the Lithuanian did not show up. Our grandaunt visiting us was present and asked them to explore the attic which they did not. I still don’t know where the young lad had hidden but he was not found and we were saved. I still get shivers down my spine, reminiscing those encounters.