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Latvia

Lapu river Lēdurga, which embodied the lost independence of Latvia during captivity

Grandma, who was over 80 at the time, looked out the car window and commented on the surroundings. They told me what farms were in the specific places and what relatives lived there. Her own family house “Krustiņi” was no longer preserved, instead it was a two-storey white silicate brick apartment building. In 1949, my family’s relationship with Lēdurga was violently severed. Both deportations and Chekist operations in the forests destroyed those who hid from repression.

At the time, it seemed that Lēdurga was part of a lost past that would probably never return. Lēdurga became more and more entrenched in my childhood subconscious as a deeply personal, but at the same time elusive part of the common association for an independent Latvian state that once existed but disappeared.

Deported Latvians to Siberia in 1949. On the right – the grandmother of the historian Gatas Krūmiņš Zelma Elizabete Apine (born Treija)
Photo: Historian Gatas Krūmiņš family archive. Author unknown.

Historical processes are sometimes rapid and unpredictable. It also happened in the second half of the 1980s. Within a few years, the totalitarian USSR collapsed and Latvia regained its independence. This opened the door for many to return to the places from which they had been forcibly expelled. Recover property that had been nationalized by the Soviet occupation authorities. This also applied to my family.

I have been living in Lēdurga for 25 years now, and although I was born in Rīga and studied at a school in Rīga, I consider myself a Lēdurdziete. Despite the fact that I go to Valmiera and Riga on a daily basis. From the perspective of my work, I consider the location of Lēdurga to be excellent – in fact, in the middle between Riga and Valmiera, and within a half-hour drive you can also reach Sigulda or in the opposite direction Vidzeme seaside and Skulte.

Lēdurgas location
Photo: Google Maps

Nine years ago, together with other local history enthusiasts, we wrote the book “History of Krimulda Region”. Its opening was adapted to the eight hundredth anniversary of Lēdurga.

Only ten years younger than Riga

Place stories

Look for stories where nothing seems to have happened – following this format of the show “It Happened Here”, historians working on it have created articles about the places where they originated or where they live now.

  • How Napoleon opened up the world-class sugar factory to Rauna. The story of the historian Edgars Plētins
  • Smilgziedi – Lauciene family, which reflects at least 200 years of Latvian history

Stories written by historians from the show “It Happened Here”:

  • How Khrushchev “looked” at the Latvian agricultural collective farm “Avangards”
  • As daughters of guards and other fragments of history were erased from local memory
  • Revolutionary flame and war torn. The story of Barkava manor
  • Excellent testimonies of a page of Latvian history in Turlava – free Curonian canons
  • Kārķi Castle “Detective” – ​​why did it start to be demolished before it was built?

According to the standards of historians, who start the chronological reference point of a particular place from the first mention in written sources, Lēdurga is only 10 years younger than Riga. Lēdurga is mentioned in the events of 1211, in the chronicle of Henry of Livonia. However, as in the case of Riga and many other places, the actual history is much older. This is evidenced by archaeological research. At the beginning of the 13th century, Lēdurga had reached the epicenter of dynamic events.

Right next door in Turaida was the controversial Kaupo, who was baptized as a traitor and the first Europeanist of Latvia in different periods. Kaupo visited Rome and supported the introduction of the Christian faith in his region. Within reach, the city of Straupe was born, which later became a member of the Hanseatic League.

The origin of the name Lēdurga is generally supported by the hypothesis put forward by the linguist August Bielenstein already at the end of the 19th century – the place name is derived from Liv words. lad (“page”) and urga (“small stream” or “lowland with running water”), or from a verb emergency (“flowing”, “flow”). However, I dare to question this version, as older versions of place names are quite different (Letthegore, Loddiger).

More careful archaeological research would also be needed to be able to say with confidence that the Finno-Ugric (Livs) have long been the only inhabitants of this region. In the vicinity of Turaida, before the Livs, the territory was inhabited for some time by a white nation – the so-called Gauja Semigallians. Nor do we have reliable evidence of where the historic center of Lēdurga was 800 years ago. Very dense burials of different times can be found in many places, for example, in the vicinity of “Juglu”. During the collective farms, in the process of extracting gravel, among other things, extensive medieval cemeteries were dug there, and local children, as in many other places in Latvia, supplemented their knowledge of anatomy by playing with human bones. The story of the “sunken church” also comes from “Jugla”, and the locals can still show the place in the forest where there used to be a church, but now it is quite large.

Followed the common course of Latvian history

From the point of view of recent historical events, Lēdurga is not unique and organically fits into the general course of Latvian history. From the middle of the 19th century, a strong layer of farmers – landowners – began to form. The contradictions between the privileges of the German nobility and Latvian agriculture, which had been strengthened over the centuries, increased. Even when selling land to farmers, the landlords tried to retain various privileges, such as hunting rights. The tax burden on farms was also much higher than on manors. Farm owners in the last decade of the 19th century were full of challenges and challenges.

Receipt of payment for receipt of current payment. Payer – Jānis Treijs (grandfather of the historian Gata Krūmiņš), recipient – Baron von Tiesenhausen.
Photo: Gata Krūmiņš family archive.

By becoming owners, farmers had in almost all cases assumed a lawful credit obligation. At the same time, the development of the transport sector (railways, shipping, etc.) significantly facilitated global trade, and grain prices in the Baltic region fell sharply, which reduced farmers’ incomes. An additional challenge was industrialization – the demand for labor grew rapidly in cities.

In fact, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the labor market overheated in Vidzeme. The demand was partly offset by immigration, but these people from Belarus or other regions proved unsuitable for the factories, as almost all were illiterate. Needless to say, literacy in Vidzeme was close to 100 percent at the end of the 19th century (94.6% in 1897). [2] As a result, factory workers were recruited from rural areas, while farm owners were forced to raise wages for agricultural workers in order to retain labor in the countryside. Wage growth was faster than productivity growth, leading to bankruptcies and a significant number of farms being set aside.

I remember an episode told by my grandmother, born in 1899, from her childhood, when her mother complained that she could not afford to wear such luxurious dresses as her maids.

Socio-economic tensions in rural areas largely explain why the 1905 revolution, as well as various “left” movements in later times, from the Social Democrats to the Bolsheviks, included so many relatively well-educated rural middle class shots.

Lēdurga is not unique in the context of other events either. The occupation of the USSR managed to cut off the intellectual head of the parish, and the previous economic and cultural elite was replaced by other people. It took decades for life to return to normal.

Local history – still unknown and full of surprises

The high turbulence in the historical events of the 20th century is a major challenge in local history. Many sources of history have been deliberately destroyed (this has happened as a result of changes in power at the political level – by destroying books in schools and libraries, demolishing monuments, and also by the individual – people destroyed testimonies, evidence of previous periods). If during the occupation of the USSR it took place for fear of repression, then in the 1990s much of the cultural and historical heritage of the Soviet occupation period was lost. People, as seemingly worthless, destroyed photo evidence of the daily life of collective farms. As time goes on, we have realized that unique evidence of specific eras has disappeared.

Floods in Lēdurga in the 20th century. 20th century
Photo: Jānis Jurjāns

But there are also pleasant surprises. 10 years ago, during the renovation, a photo album with unique photographs from the 1920s and 1930s was found in the center of Lēdurga. The author of most of the photographs is Jānis Jurjāns, who can be considered one of the first professional photographers in Latvia. The album was hidden under the floor by a family who had fled in 1944, and miraculously the album remained intact. The family had been actively involved in Lēdurga parish, so a series of photographs is a unique addition to the study of the history of Lēdurga parish.

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