Viens Gans Nomira (A Shepherd Died, folk song)Margarita Kovaļevska, illustrator, 1942

This miniature booklet caught our eye because it contained illustrations by Margarita Kovaļevska, a popular Latvian illustrator and writer[1]. We could tell it was a war-time publication, being issued by a charitable organization which had functioned under German occupation.

We cannot begin to fathom life beset by multiple occupations. Had Stalin not been the first to invade Latvia, culminating in the first mass deportation just before Hitler's invasion, the Soviets could have laid claim to subsequently "liberating" Latvia. Instead, after a year of Soviet occupation, the new occupiers had the advantage of a populace already trained not to inquire, not to incite—that keeping your head down was the best way to survive to tomorrow[2]. In that atmosphere, the Germans exploited memories of the Bolshevik terror. Ģimenes Diena (Family Day) was organized for Latvians to help other Latvians—widows and orphans the Bolsheviks left behind—and to remember entire families who were uprooted and deported to Siberia. The Lettische Volkshilfe, or Tautas Palīdzība (Peoples' Aid), gathered charitable assistance for families in need. We found mention of the booklet in a news article in Tēvija, the German-controlled "Fatherland" (Tēvija)newspaper, issue 112. of Saturday, May 16, 1942. Picture of a Peoples' Aid armband, at right, from the Latvian National Archives. Note the service held at the communal grave of Bolshevik victims. Services are still held in Meža kapi at the site of crosses erected commemorating the deported. At the time of our picture, 1997, at right, we were told it was a memorial—but it is likely the site of the communal graves mentioned.

Family Day Tomorrow

Family Day will be held tomorrow at an event organized by Peoples' Aid. The opening ceremony will take place at 10am at the Drama Theater. Speaking will be the head of Peoples' Aid Interior Affairs, General Director, General O. Dankers and professor K. Kundziņš. Participating in the concert directly following are the Peoples' Aid Childrens' Choir led by [Jānis] Milzarājs, the trio — professor A. Ozoliņš (cello), A. Norītis (violin) and B. Ozoliņa (piano) — and soloists H. Lūse, T. Matiss, and A. Norītis. Admission is free.

A service will be held in the Brethren Cemetery by the Mother monument at 1pm and a service will be held in the Forest Cemetery at the communal grave of those slaughtered by the Bolsheviks at 1:30pm. Archbishop T. Grīnbergs and Reverend Stange will lead devotions. The Reiters choir will sing.

In a solemn ceremony tomorrow, General O. Dankers will present Mothers' Cards[3] to 12 mothers. Tomorrow, donations will gathered at collection boxes. Tomorrow, on Family Day in particular, let us remember the smallest of victims, whose parents and guardians who were tortured in the cellars of the CHEKA during the Bolsheviks' rule, or deported to the USSR. Up until now, Peoples' Aid has particularly focused on assisting large families and children left with no one to look after them, and tomorrow, donating with a helpful hand, we can all contribute to this sacred task. Tomorrow, Peoples' Aid will also be selling five miniature booklets: Tautai un mūžībai; A. Brigadere's Annele, Tincīte un Julcīte; K. Skalbe's Sāpju ceļš; the folk story Maizes klaips, and the folk song Viens gans nomira. These original pulications are illustrated by artists Erna Geistaute and Margarita Kovaļevska. These cheerful publications will bring particular joy to the littlest reader. The publications will be available tomorrow from donation collectors. Lists will be used to collect donations at apartments from 8am to 6pm. We invite all Peoples' Aid volunteers and former donations collectors to take part in our active work and to sign up at the nearest district. We are hopeful that with this springtime collection, the income from donations will be as numerous and generous as the needs are many and great. The central phone number is 34890. The Family Day eventide service will be held this evening at 7pm at Archbishop Cathetral, led by prof. Alb. Freijis. Joining will be singer L. Maršalka and organist A. Prēdelis. A. Goba will lead the Family Day service at Old Gertrude Church tomorrow at 6pm.[4][5]

Despite the German propaganda machine describing it as "cheerful" reading for the youngest readers, our first and far more sobering impression remains, that this booklet with its sorrowful tale—so common to Latvian folksongs—was intended to help innocent children deal with the death and destruction of war.

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Viens gans nomira
A Shepherd Died, cover

VIENS GANS NOMIRA, Tautas dziesma
Illustrējusi Margarita Kovaļevska
Tautas Palīdzība
A SHEPHERD DIED, Folk song
Illustrated by Margarita Kovaļeveska
Peoples' Aid (publisher)


Viens gans nomira, Citi gani raudāja;
A shepherd died, The other shepherds cried;

Visi mazi putniņi Pātarus skaitīja;
All the little birds Recited their Our Father's;


Cūka raka kapu Augstā kalnā;
The hog dug a grave Atop a high hill;

Dzenis kala krustu Sausā kokā;
The woodpecker carved a cross
In the dried-up tree;


Dzegūze zvanīja Sausā eglē;
The cuckoo rang In a dried up fir;

Buks leca baļļā Sprediķi sacīt;
The buck jumped into the tub
To deliver a sermon;

Kaza kāpa debesīs Dievam sūdzēt.
The goat climbed to the sky
To complain to God.

4. spiestuve Rīgā, Blaumaņa ielā 10    3165
Printing House No. 4, 10 Blaumanis Street

The original measures 5.6 cm by 7.8cm, a bit over 2 x 3 inches, unopened. On a standard screen our reproduction is about half again as large as the original.


[1]There is also a family connection, our webmaster's father, graphic artist Jānis Vecrumba, attended the Latvian Academy of Art as did Kovaļevska. She writes of her involvement with him—and about many other topics—in her published student diary titled, simply, "Nineteen."
[2]Despite the plaque at the United States Holocaust Museum implicating all Baltic peoples in the Holocaust, with the blanket condemnation that they knew what was happening and did nothing, the actual circumstances were, at least in the country-side, that the Russian and German occupations were completely consistent in that ones' neighbors and coworkers vanished with no word, only occasional rumor, of what happened. —From personal interviews
[3]Mothers' Cards were first distributed at this Family Day, starting May 17, 1942, made necessary by the circumstances of war, where the head of the family was at the front, leaving their wife and children without support. These cards allowed mothers to not wait in lines, meaning they would not have to leave their children for extended periods of time. Mothers with infants less than one year old or with four or more children of which at least one was less than five years old were eliglble. —Šilde, Ād. Ardievas Rīgai. NY : Grāmatu Draugs, 1988, 203. lpp.; Ģimenes dienas svinības Latvijā. Tēvija, 1942. g. 18. maijs.
[4]

Rīt ģimenes diena (Tēvija issue No. 112, page 2)

Tautas Palīdzības sarīkojumā rīt notiks Ģimenes diena. Atklāšanas akts pl. 10 Drāmatiskajā teātrī. Runās Tautas Palīdzības priekšnieks iekšlietu ģenerākdirektors ģenerālis O. Dankers un prof. K. Kundziņš. Sekojošā koncertā piedalās T. P. bērnu koris Milzarāja vadībā, trio — prof. A. Ozoliņš (čello), A. Norītis (vijole) un B. Ozoliņa (klavieres) — un solisti H. Lūse, T. Matiss un A. Norītis. Ieeja bez maksas. Svētbrīdis Brāļu kapos pie Mātes tēla notiks pl. 13 un svētbrīdis Meža kapos boļševiku noslepkavoto kopējā kapu vietā pl. 13.30. Svētbrīžus vadīs archibīskaps prof. T. Grīnbergs un mācītājs Stange. Dziedās Reitera koris. Ģimenes dienas svinīgajā aktā rīt ģenerālis O. Dankers pasniegs mātes kartes 12 mātēm. Rīt notiks arī ziedojumu vākšana ar vācelītēm. Tieši ģimenes dienā rīt atminēsimies tos mazos grūtdieņus, kuŗu vecāki un gādnieki boļševiku valdīšanas laikā nomocīti čekas pagrabos via aizvesti uz padomiju. Tautas Palīdzība līdz šim gādājusi it sevišķi par daudzbērnu ģimenēm un bērniem, kas palikuši bez gādātājiem, un rīt, ar devīgu roku ziedojot, mēs visi varam šo svētīgo darbu sekmēt. Rīt Tautas Palīdzība dos pārdošanā arī piecas miniātūrgrāmatiņas: Tautai un mūžībai, A. Brigaderes Annele, Tincīte un Julcīte, K. Skalbes Sāpju ceļš, tautas pasaka Maizes klaips un tautas dziesma Viens gans nomira. Oriģinālos izdevumus illustrējušas mākslinieces Erna Geistaute un Margarita Kovaļevska. Jaukie izdevumi sevišķu prieku sagādās mazajiem lasītājiem. Izdevumi rīt būs dabūjami pie ziedojuma vācējiem. Vāks ziedojumus ar listēm dzīvokļos no pl. 8—18. Lūgti visi Tautas palīdzības talcinieki un bij vācēji stāties aktīvā darbā un pieteikties savos tuvakos rajonos. Ceram, ka arī šī pavasaŗa ziedojumu iznākumi būs jo kupli un bagāti, jo vajadzības ir ļoti daudz un lielas. Centra tālrunis 34890. Ģimenes dienas svētvakara dievkalpojums šovakar pl. 19 Archibīskapa katedrālē prof. Alb. Freija vadībā. Piedalās dzied. L. Maršalka un ērģ. A. Prēdelis. Ģimenes dienas dievkalpojumu V. Ģertrūdes baznīcā rīt pl. 18 vadīs māc. A. Goba.
[5]Tēvija issue retrieved at data.lnb.lv/nba01/Tevija/1942/Tevija1942-112.pdf

Margarita Kovaļevska's works remain under copyright until January 1, 2070. Viens Gans Nomira and related materials are reproduced here for informational, educational, and research purposes under Latvian Copyright Law §20. and §21.

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