hanna ferber

Shimon and Hanna Ferber's 50th wedding anniversaryRiga, Latvia

Hanna Ferber
Interviewer: Svetlana Kovalchuk
Date of Interview: March 2002

I don't know how to explain this. I never knew any of my grandparents. I do remember Grandmother Zhenia Hercenberg, though. She was very old and frail and lived in Jelgava in an old people's home, which her sons paid for. When she died, she was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Jelgava. No documents about her have survived.

My parents were married in 1906 in Liepaja.

My father, Adolf Hercenberg, was born in 1880. He came from Piltene, not far from Liepaja. His parents were also from there. But my mother is from Gulbene, another town near Liepaja. My father had two brothers, Edward and Gustav. Edward lived in Riga, where he owned a prosperous antique shop. Gustav lived in Tallinn [today Estonia]. He was the youngest brother in the Ferber family. Gustav was the representative of the Italian 'Viskoza Ltd' in Estonia; he had two daughters.

At the beginning of World War I, in 1914, my father was sent to Glazov, in the district of Vjatskij. What for? He didn't know. My mother, Feike Ite Hercenberg [nee - Kutisker] who was born in 1884, remained behind with three children to raise: in 1914 my brother Boris was six years old, my sister Gita was four and my youngest brother Isaac was two. In Jelgava [50 km from Riga, called Mitava until 1918] a regulation was issued that all Jews should leave the town within 48 hours. [Editor's note: The regulation was actually issued at the end of May or beginning of June 1915, just before the Germans were to occupy the territory which is Latvia today. It is quite possible that Adolf Hercenberg was deported to Glazov as a result of this regulation, since the tsarist government was afraid of Germanophilic feelings of the Jews.]

Everyone living in Jelgava at that time knew about this regulation. A small ship was sent to the Lielupe River- Driksene - all the Jews went there with their children. My mother took her three small children, bundled up the most necessary items and went to the ship. They were brought to Riga. Her brother lived in St. Petersburg at that time. My mother's name was Feike Ite, but we called her Feike. I found out that she had been called Ite, from my eldest brother, Boris. My mother was brought to Petersburg and there they tried to get her a permission to go on to Glazov to join my father. In 1917 the Soviet Workers and Farmers gave my parents a permit to go back to Mitava. They returned, and then I was born in September 1919. In 1933 my mother had another son - Rafi.

My oldest brother Boris was born in 1908, in Liepaja. My sister Gita was born in 1910. My youngest brother Isaac, also known as Isaac Meier, was born in 1912 in Jelgava. Boris began school in Glazov and went to a Russian school there until 1917. There he learned Russian, and spoke it for the rest of his life. When my parents returned to Jelgava from Glazov, Boris was sent to a German gymnasium [high school]. He was 18 when he graduated. How he learned Hebrew, I don't know. But he and a friend of his named Shura Davidson immigrated to Palestine in 1926. He had money to go to Berlin. My mother's brother, Uncle Igo Kutisker, who had lived in Petersburg earlier, then lived in Palestine.

To get enough money to leave Germany, Boris sold his stamp collection and went to Palestine. In 1928 he married Sonya Liven. She was also very active in Betar [1]. Boris only got to know Sonya in Palestine, but my father used to work with this girl at Lancman's in Riga, where she was a bookkeeper. So, Father knew his future daughter-in-law. Later, Sonya's sister Rosa took over this position as a bookkeeper. When my brother got married, Rosa and her mother, Frau [Mrs.] Liven, came to us in Jelgava to introduce themselves. In 1929 my brother changed both his first name and his surname. Instead of Boris Hercenberg he became Dov Harlev. Har - means hill; Lev - means lion, I think. Because of this, it is very important for me to maintain the memory of the family name Hercenberg.

In Jelgava we had a rather simple lifestyle. My father had a small shop that didn't do much business. Sometimes he had work, but sometimes he didn't. My mother lived in Jelgava and ran a dining room where people coming to town could come and have dinner. Not too many people came, but that is how we made a living.

Our family wasn't very orthodox. But for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur my parents did go to the synagogue. During Pesach we didn't eat bread. I know all the laws, because I went to the synagogue in Jelgava together with my parents. In Jelgava there used to be a huge synagogue. We learned Hebrew at school every day - it was regarded as a dead language, like Latin. We studied the basics of religion. I couldn't talk it, but I can still remember words to this very day. As I say, 'You won't be able to con me in Hebrew.' I know enough Hebrew for that! But yes, I speak Yiddish.

I was born in 1919 in Jelgava. At that time Bermont's Army was leaving Jelgava. [West Russian Volunteer Army was a counterrevolutionary army in the Baltic provinces of the former Russian Empire during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920, created by Germany. It was led by a Cossack general Pavel Bermont-Avalov who recruited about 50 000 men in close co-operation with German general Rüdiger von der Goltz. Originally known as "Special Russian Corps", it was made up mostly of Baltic Germans as well as some Russian POWs captured by Germany in World War I and then released on the promise that they would help fighting against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War. In October 1919 West Russian Volunteer Army attacked the newly- independent states of Lithuania and Latvia, to which Germany had granted independence. It has briefly occupied Riga and government of K?rlis Ulmanis had to request military help from Lithuania and Estonia. In November Latvian army managed to drive Bermont-Avalov forces into Lithuanian territory. After interference by the Entente military mission remaining elements of West Russian Volunteer Army withdrew from the Baltics to Germany]

My mother told me that I was almost born in a basement, because there was crossfire. I was the fourth child born in the family. I went to the General Jewish School, then for two years I studied at Jelgava State Secondary School. In 1936 the secondary school in Jelgava was closed. As my father was a bagman and always worked in firms in Riga, and my brother Isaac didn't have work in Jelgava either, we moved to Riga in summer 1936.

I entered a Jewish Gymnasium named after Ice Rauhvarger. Why did I go to this school? Because the subjects were taught in Latvian. But in Jelgava all subjects were taught in German. Hence, my first language was German. In 1938 I graduated from Rauhvarger's school and entered the English College. The English College at that time was a higher education institution. We acquired rather good English at that school. I didn't have to take additional lessons in English, but took the entrance examinations at once. Today, the school is a secondary education institution. At that time I spoke English fluently, I even thought in English. We had wonderful teachers at the college - they were all English - and they taught the language fantastically well. Twice a year, at Christmas and for summer vacations, they went to England. They all married local girls. At the College we only spoke English. We even had a punishment system for non- English words uttered at school. I studied there for three years, passed the third year examination, and then the war started.

I worked during my studies. College classes started at 4pm. A friend of mine got me a job in a workshop at Gandler's factory where they made some sort of lubricant made of smelly herrings. All staff at this workshop - the son of the owner, the daughters - they were all doing commercial business. There was a horseman who didn't know a word of Russian, but he swore in Russian. I started to work as a bookkeeper at Gandler's for 50 Lats. It smelled awful there. I couldn't go to college in the same clothes. After work I would go home, have a wash and then go to college for 7 - 8 hours.

During the evacuation in wartime I tried to study. I enrolled at university in Kirov. I didn't have any idea that it was a pedagogical institute. I really don't know how I followed the lectures! All the lectures were in Russian, and I wrote down everything using the Latin alphabet! It was impossible for me to study. Oh, yes, there was one lecturer from Leningrad who loved talking to me. She even took me with her to the dining room and gave me almost half of her dinner, just in order to talk to me in English. The institute was transferred to Jaransk, 250 kilometers from Kirov, where there were no railways. At that time the Ministry of Meat Production was evacuated from Moscow, for which the facilities of the institute were needed. My father, who had been deported to the North during World War I said, 'My dear, we left Riga only to fall into German hands here! We don't know how far the Germans will come. We are not going with the institute.' My parents and I were offered the opportunity to leave, with the promise that work would be arranged for my father, but he flatly refused this offer.

So I left the Institute and I started to look for a job, because during the war we were punished for not working. Without knowing Russian, I went to a tailor's workshop. They repaired military clothes and did some tailoring too. I was to sew on buttons and make loops. But I was a very bad worker - I couldn't follow the design. I didn't understand what a pattern design was, and what I was supposed to do. I was always the last one on the list, and was badly scolded for it. I worked at this workshop until I got an invitation to come to the military committee, the Vojenkomat. I came to the Vojenkomat and was told that I was to be taken for courses held by the communists. I told them that I hadn't mastered the Russian language and that I didn't have any idea how they were going to teach me. They were collecting communists, apparently to send them to the front line [2].

I had my mother to take care of, because my father was dead by that time. He died from lung cancer in Kirov in 1942. He is buried there. At that time in Kirov there was a Latvian Representation Office and Karlis Pugo was the head of it. He was the father of Boris Pugo. [Editor's note: on the eve of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 Boris Pugo was the Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR]. Karlis Pugo was the nicest person and was very kind to us. I went to the Representation Office quite often - I used to buy the newspaper 'Cina' ['The Fight']. I fell ill with tuberculosis and when I went to Pugo, he gave me felt boots. After my father's death, I went to Pugo again and told him, 'I am being asked to join the army and go to the front line. My mother will be alone without anybody to look after her.' He explained that it wasn't a Latvian division I had been called up to; they didn't need me. So, he wasn't able to help me. Vojenkomat was just not under his jurisdiction. I started to go to the communists' courses where we were mostly taught how to dismantle and put together a gun. I was not able to remember all the parts of a gun, but then, I didn't know the Russian language.

Then Pugo told me that since I had lung problems and went to the tuberculosis health center, I wasn't destined for the army. In the Vojenkomat there was a commission which, having learned that I was a patient at the tuberculosis health center, gave me a document to prove that I was unsuitable for army service. So I got out of the courses.

Pugo explained, 'If you work in a civil organization they won't leave you in peace. You should find some organization from which they don't recruit people for army service.' I was accepted at the Evacuation Hospital No. 3156. First, they made me a bookkeeper, as he had a manager from Moscow, whom he knew would soon return there. This happened in 1943, I think, when people were returning to Moscow. When this bookkeeper left, I was made a manager of a division. Every day I had to document the number of wounded, to write receipts, and to put the menu list together. People were brought in and operated on, and we were sometimes called in at nights. I worked there until 1945. I had a good time there. We got ration cards for 800 grams of bread, whereas my mother got one for just 200 grams. We also had a small garden. Nikolai Krilov, the head of the supply division, planted cabbages for me. He went there every weekend. I couldn't go there, because I didn't have the weekends off. He organized a small shop for civil staff, so we didn't have to stand in queues for bread all night. We didn't starve, and we even got parcels. That is how we lived.

The head of the hospital, Solomon Jakovljevich Rozovskiy from Leningrad, was the loveliest person and a very cultured man. In 1943, for the first time in my life we invited the head of the hospital for Pesach. He had war rations and brought a piece of meat and organized a Seder. I remember my friend Lyuba went to the market, and she saw that somebody was selling a big pike. They were asking 100 rubles for it. Lyuba passed the money over other people's heads to make sure that we had this fish for Pesach. And then, the head of the hospital came to visit us. Boris, my brother, sent us matzah and clothes through the Red Cross organization. Somebody was coming, most probably from the KGB [3], they were whispering. We were closely followed. If you, as a former Riga citizen, told anyone that you used to live in a three-room apartment you could get put away for years. But we knew that we should keep quiet, because my father already had some experience in this field.

Nikolai Krilov became ill with pneumonia and died in 1945. I was left as the head of the supply division. When the war ended, Rozovskiy named people for promotions. I was nominated for the Red Star. I got a letter that they were willing to take me back for studies at the Foreign Language Institute, and my mother and I were given permission to re-evacuate in 1945.

My brother Boris and I kept writing to each other all our lives [4]. Even during the war we managed to keep in touch with each other. He helped us with parcels that he sent with the assistance of the Red Cross. In 1989, during Gorbachev's [5] time, people started visiting Israel. One of our relatives went to Israel, so I told him, 'Please pass word to my brother that I agree to come and visit him. But I don't have the money for a ticket. Get him to send me an invitation.' When I came into the Visa department, a woman in uniform was sitting there. She read my form and said, 'You haven't seen your brother since 1926, and he is 80 now! You will get the permission very soon! Order the tickets!' I called my brother at once and told him this. I spoke to my brother again for the first time when he was 80.

In 1989 I went to Israel. I stayed with Rafi, my brother's son. Rafi always invited the whole family for Sabbath. Since I have returned from Israel, I invite all the family for Sabbath every Friday. It's not because I am a strong believer; I simply want my family to meet up. I light candles, but say no prayers. I make dinner. Those who are free, come, or they call and excuse themselves.

My brother and his children lived in Ramatasharon. In 1967, during the war [6], my brother moved from Tel Aviv to Ramatasharon. His daughter also bought an apartment there when she married. Rafi had a house in Ramatasharon. He was an army officer, a pilot. When he retired he got a position in civil aviation. Today he is the president of the Israeli Airline Company 'El Al.'

Now, my sister Gita's story: she graduated from the German gymnasium in Jelgava, a private and very expensive establishment. As my brother Boris said, it was a terribly anti-Semitic gymnasium. There were no Jewish schools in Jelgava, and nobody thought of going to a Latvian school. Gita was studying to become a pharmacist. In 1933, she married Moric Rozenberg, who was 18 years older than Gita. Gita was very beautiful, and looked much younger than her real age. Moric Rozenberg was a bachelor, an older man, not too poor, but I wouldn't say he was extremely rich, either. In Jelgava he decorated a very beautiful apartment, ordering everything from a catalogue. He decorated this lovely apartment and employed a housekeeper to care for it.

They had a beautiful, grand wedding. I was finishing the 7th grade when Gita got married. In 1934, she gave birth to a daughter who they named Atida. They lived a normal life. Gita didn't work any more. They had a Jewish circle of friends and played cards in the evenings. Gita could lose as much money as she wanted, as Moric would always pay. But when Gita happened to win some money, she would buy something for me - some material for a dress, or a coat or an outfit. Her husband loved me dearly. During the summer they would come to Riga seaside - Jurmala and everything was very lovely. Atida was one and a half years old when they came to Jurmala and she became ill with infantile paralysis. At first, she was completely paralyzed, and then the paralysis slowly receded. But one of her feet was still dead. She remained crippled and didn't go to school.

My sister's husband was religious. I remember, one Friday we made a list in order to bring money to all the poor. My friend Lyuba and I did that. When we were asked, 'Who gave all this money,' we were supposed to answer, 'Pray to the Lord for a child's health.' My sister's husband's business was taken away from him by the Soviet authorities, and he was then trading corn. He had a license for export. In 1941, Moric Rozenberg was working in Riga, and my sister was working in the pharmacy. But out of four rooms, two were rented out; it wasn't possible to maintain the four rooms. They all died in the ghetto in Jelgava in 1941 - my sister, her husband and Atida, but details of their life in that period I don't know.

On 14th June, 1941 there was a mass deportation of people to the East of Russia [7]. The head of the family was separated from the rest of the family and taken to an animal freight car; the rest of the family went separately. Everybody was deported like this in 1941. And not only one nation - Latvians, all rich people! During that time my brother Isaac was conscripted into the workers' guards. On 14th or 15th June, he came and said, 'Listen! Gita will be sent away without a doubt! I have seen the horror of it! We guards came to people at night and gave them 20 minutes to get ready. And that was only because they were rich! They were taken from their beds - children, old people. Go to Jelgava at once. Get packed and wait.' I went to Jelgava, we packed, and then we waited for two nights. It turned out that the rich Jews of Jelgava had bought themselves out. But when the Germans came in, signs were put on them that said 'Jews.'

Isaac went to a Jewish school, graduated and went as a trainee to work in a clothes shop. He was rather short, but he grew up later to be a very handsome man. He was very kind. When Friday came my mother told me, 'Go to the shop owner and ask for 2 Lats on Isaac's account for Sabbath.' Then my mother would go to the market. Our father had a very small shop; he came home on Fridays for Sabbath. Isaac, too, like Boris, joined the Brit- Trumpeldorf club. He wanted to go to Israel, too. When I got older, my father wouldn't let me join this organization. He was afraid that I might also want to leave. Isaac became a salesman in a shop, and then joined the Latvian army in 1934. You had to be 21 to join the Latvian Army. When he came back there was a tendency among Jews to do hard physical work - to prepare themselves for life in Palestine. It was through such work that Isaac met his future wife, Sara [Sonya] Sorkina. He was carrying bags for his brother-in-law [Moric Rozenberg]. At four or five in the morning his brother-in-law got dressed and went out to work, in winter as well as in summer. Farmers took corn from their farms to sell in town. They didn't deliver all their corn at once, but just when they needed money. His brother-in-law was a great specialist. He tasted the corn, then brought it to the corn elevator.

In 1938 Isaac married Sara Sorkina. In 1941 we saw him for the last time on St. John's day, 24th June. The war had already started. He came to our house, and Sara was there, too. He told her, 'If everybody is leaving, you should leave, too!' She answered, 'I'm not leaving without you!' Later we found out that Isaac had been killed in Staraja Rus in 1941. We have a document to that effect. His wife Sonya remained with us for the rest of her life.

My husband, Shimon Ferber, was born in 1917 in Tukums [65 km west of Riga]. There he graduated from secondary school. Shimon was a very active follower of Brit-Trumpeldorf. One of his brothers was a communist. He had two brothers. Max Mendel, the oldest one and the communist, died in 1942. He died in my husband's arms. Emmanuel was the youngest brother of my husband. He lives in Haifa today; he was a pharmacist.

Shimon courted me from the time I was 13. In Jelgava he had an aunt - Frau Klauss - his mother's sister. He used to go to her place on holidays. The Klauss family had a little two-floor house. On the first floor lived his aunt and her husband, and on the second floor there lived my classmate. In Jelgava there used to be a wonderful park - at the site of a palace, which had been destroyed during World War I. Children used to play there, and Lyuba used to go there with her relative Shimon. When we grew up he fell in love with me. I was too young to be allowed to receive letters. Lyuba Klauss had a housekeeper and Shimon wrote to her. These were letters for me. When I went to Kirov during the war, it turned out that Shimon's parents were also there. He joined the family in Kirov and came to my mother. I was at work at that time and though he sent me greetings, we didn't meet.

But when my mother and I came back to Riga through Leningrad in 1945, I continued my studies at the English Language Institute. Lyuba Klauss told him where I lived. Shimon Ferber came to me when Mother was ill, when I was in a strange apartment with no money. He came and was so kind - he bought groceries for all the ration cards [8]. We went to the cinema, the circus and the theater. We got registered, got a document stating that we were officially married. We went to my mother and told her that we were married. My mother asked that his mother come to her. 'Children marry without a chuppah!' my mother said. On 17th November 1945 we went to a rabbi and had a chuppah.

My husband got demobilized. He started to work at the Ministry of Trade, as an inspector for the organizational division [9]. He worked in this Ministry until he retired. My husband died in 1996. He worked hard all his life, and would come home at about eleven in the evening. My little daughter once called him 'Uncle.' My relatives arranged work for me back in 1945 at the Ministry of Transportation, in the planning division. I worked there until 1948. Then I went to work at the Taxi Park. The head of the planning division knew my abilities to acquire new goods and they sent me to the Riga Taxi Park. There, I made my career. I became the head of the planning division. I introduced shifts in the Taxi Park so that the cars wouldn't be left idle. In 1959 I went to work for the special scientific research construction office as head of the normative research division. In the Soviet Union, they were the first to construct a diagnostic car workshop. I worked there until I retired at the age of 55.

In 1946, I gave birth to a son whom we named Ruvin. This was the happiest day of my life. I thank God many times a day for such a wonderful son! My son was taken care of by Russian speaking maids. I didn't teach him English; there was no time for that. Ruvin graduated from the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at Latvia University. He is a professor at the university. He has a son named Arye and a daughter named Lina.

I also have a daughter. My daughter Fira was born in 1952. I was very happy when she was born, because I wanted a daughter so badly. The doctor said at the beginning of my labor, 'The Ferbers again have a son!' But when I saw the bracelet given to all newborn, the doctor had crossed out 'boy' and put 'girl' instead. From the very first day of her life, we had a nurse for Fira. This nurse lived with us for 13 years. My daughter graduated from the Faculty of Russian Philology at Latvia University. Now she is a businesswoman. Fira has a daughter named Ada. Our daughter married a Russian, a wonderful man by the name of Oleg Maniyev, who died of cancer when he was 47. But when Fira's daughter, Ada, went to get her passport she registered as Jewish [10].

I followed the Jewish traditions at home; my children knew when Pesach and the Jewish New Year were; we baked matzah and went to the synagogue. I observed the traditions, and so did my husband's parents.


[1] Betar: Brith Trumpledor (Hebrew) meaning Trumpledor Society; right-wing Revisionist Jewish youth movement. It was founded in 1923 in Riga by Vladimir Jabotinsky, in memory of J. Trumpledor, one of the first fighters to be killed in Palestine, and the fortress Betar, which was heroically defended for many months during the Bar Kohba uprising. Its aim was to propagate the program of the revisionists and prepare young people to fight and live in Palestine. It organized emigration through both legal and illegal channels. It was a paramilitary organization; its members wore uniforms. They supported the idea to create a Jewish legion in order to liberate Palestine. From 1936-39 the popularity of Betar diminished. During WWII many of its members formed guerrilla groups.

[2] Soviet Army: The armed forces of the Soviet Union, originally called Red Army and renamed Soviet Army in February 1946. After the Bolsheviks came to power, in November 1917, they commenced to organize the squads of worker's army, called Red Guards, where workers and peasants were recruited on voluntary bases. The commanders were either selected from among the former tsarist officers and soldiers or appointed directly by the Military and Revolutionary Committy of the Communist Party. In early 1918 the Bolshevik government issued a decree on the establishment of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army and mandatory drafting was introduced for men between 18 and 40. In 1918 the total number of draftees was 100 thousand officers and 1.2 million soldiers. Military schools and academies training the officers were restored. In 1925 the law on compulsory military service was adopted and annual drafting was established. The term of service was established as follows: for the Red Guards- two years, for junior officers of aviation and fleet- three years, for medium and senior officers- 25 years. People of exploiter classes (former noblemen, merchants, officers of the tsarist army, priest, factory owner, etc. and their children) as well as kulaks (rich peasants) and Cossacks were not drafted in the army. The law as of 1939 cancelled restriction on drafting of men belonging to certain classes, students were not drafted but went through military training in their educational institutions. On the 22nd June 1941 Great Patriotic War was unleashed and the drafting in the army became exclusively compulsory. First, in June-July 1941 general and complete mobilization of men was carried out as well as partial mobilization of women. Then annual drafting of men, who turned 18, was commenced. When WWII was over, the Red Army amounted to over 11 million people and the demobilization process commenced. By the beginning of 1948 the Soviet Army had been downsized to 2 million 874 thousand people. The youth of drafting age were sent to the restoration works in mines, heavy industrial enterprises, and construction sites. In 1949 a new law on general military duty was adopted, according to which service term in ground troops and aviation was three years and in navy- four years. Young people with secondary education, both civilian and military, with the age range of 17-23 were admitted in military schools for officers. In 1968 the term of the army service was contracted to two years in ground troops and in the navy to three years. That system of army recruitment has remained without considerable changes until the breakup of the Soviet Army (1991-93).

[3] KGB: The KGB or Committee for State Security was the main Soviet external security and intelligence agency, as well as the main secret police agency from 1954 to 1991.

[4] Keep in touch with relatives abroad: The authorities could arrest an individual corresponding with his/her relatives abroad and charge him/her with espionage, send them to concentration camp or even sentence them to death.

[5] Gorbachev, Mikhail (1931- ): Soviet political leader. Gorbachev joined the Communist Party in 1952 and gradually moved up in the party hierarchy. In 1970 he was elected to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, where he remained until 1990. In 1980 he joined the politburo, and in 1985 he was appointed general secretary of the party. In 1986 he embarked on a comprehensive program of political, economic, and social liberalization under the slogans of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). The government released political prisoners, allowed increased emigration, attacked corruption, and encouraged the critical reexamination of Soviet history. The Congress of People's Deputies, founded in 1989, voted to end the Communist Party's control over the government and elected Gorbachev executive president. Gorbachev dissolved the Communist Party and granted the Baltic states independence. Following the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1991, he resigned as president. Since 1992, Gorbachev has headed international organizations.

[6] Six-Day-War: The first strikes of the Six-Day-War happened on 5th June 1967 by the Israeli Air Force. The entire war only lasted 132 hours and 30 minutes. The fighting on the Egyptian side only lasted four days, while fighting on the Jordanian side lasted three. Despite the short length of the war, this was one of the most dramatic and devastating wars ever fought between Israel and all of the Arab nations. This war resulted in a depression that lasted for many years after it ended. The Six-Day-War increased tension between the Arab nations and the Western World because of the change in mentalities and political orientations of the Arab nations.

[7] Deportations from the Baltics (1940-1953): After the Soviet Union occupied the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) in June 1940 as a part of establishing the Soviet system, mass deportation of the local population began. The victims of these were mainly but not exclusively those unwanted by the regime: the local bourgeoisie and the previously politically active strata. Deportations to remote parts of the Soviet Union continued up until the death of Stalin. The first major wave of deportation took place between 11th and 14th June 1941, when 36,000, mostly politically active people were deported. Deportations were reintroduced after the Soviet Army recaptured the three countries from Nazi Germany in 1944. Partisan fights against the Soviet occupiers were going on all up to 1956, when the last squad was eliminated. Between June 1948 and January 1950, in accordance with a Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR under the pretext of 'grossly dodged from labor activity in the agricultural field and led anti-social and parasitic mode of life' 52,541 people from Latvia, 118,599 people from Lithuania and 32,450 people from Estonia were deported. The total number of deportees from the three republics amounted to 203,590. Among them were entire Latvian families of different social strata (peasants, workers, intelligentsia), everybody who was able to reject or deemed capable to reject the regime. Most of the exiled died in the foreign land. Besides, about 100,000 people were killed in action and in fusillade for being members of partisan squads and some other 100,000 were sentenced to 25 years in camps.

[8] Mandatory job assignment in the USSR: Graduates of higher educational institutions had to complete a mandatory two-year job assignment issued by the institution from which they graduated. After finishing this assignment young people were allowed to get employment at their discretion in any town or organization.

[9] Card system: The food card system regulating the distribution of food and industrial products was introduced in the USSR in 1929 due to extreme deficit of consumer goods and food. The system was cancelled in 1931. In 1941, food cards were reintroduced to keep records, distribute and regulate food supplies to the population. The card system covered main food products such as bread, meat, oil, sugar, salt, cereals, etc. The rations varied depending on which social group one belonged to, and what kind of work one did. Workers in the heavy industry and defense enterprises received a daily ration of 800 g (miners - 1 kg) of bread per person; workers in other industries 600 g. Non-manual workers received 400 or 500 g based on the significance of their enterprise, and children 400 g. However, the card system only covered industrial workers and residents of towns while villagers never had any provisions of this kind. The card system was cancelled in 1947.

[10] Item 5: This was the nationality/ethnicity line, which was included on all job application forms and in passports. Jews, who were considered a separate nationality in the Soviet Union, were not favored in this respect from the end of World War WII until the late 1980s.



Interview details

Interviewee: Hanna Ferber
Svetlana Kovalchuk
Month of interview:
Year of interview:
Riga, Latvia


Hanna Ferber
Year of birth:
City of birth:
Country name at time of birth:
after WW II:
Economist in Special Scientific Design Office
Family names
  • Previous family name: 
    Year of changing: 
    Reason for changing: 

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