The refugee period – Vera searches for Alberts

Vera married Alberts Puķe-Puķītis in Rīga during the war in July 1944. Alberts was serving in the German army and returned to his unit the day after the wedding, while Vera continued working as a piano teacher, musical accompanist and soloist in Rīga. Not long afterwards Alberts was wounded and sent to a hospital in East Prussia, while Vera and her mother became refugees and left Latvia which had been occupied by the Soviet army.

On leaving Latvia, Vera took her amber jewellery with her, which had been given to her on her confirmation by her sister. Vera remembers the moment of departure:

It was fairly late in the afternoon and rather windy with broken, fast moving clouds. The ship began to move away, the bank was teeming with people, who called out: “Compatriots! Stay in your homeland, don’t leave!” The ship left and those on the shore sang “God, Bless Latvia!”, and we too sang “God, Bless Latvia!”. It was windy with the clouds moving rapidly, the sun nearing the horizon, and reflecting red against the clouds. It all left an eerie impression, travelling towards an unknown destiny.

Vera with her mother, 1928.

After a number of months spent in Germany, Vera had the opportunity to move to Denmark. She hoped that she might find Alberts there, as injured Latvian soldiers were being transferred to Denmark. However, Alberts wasn’t there. Vera relates:

After the capitulation no more news was received from my husband …And then I placed advertisements: “has anyone seen him, or know anything about him” in the Latvian language newspapers which existed at the time (one in Germany, two in Sweden). I received one or two responses. One letter said that he had been injured, another that he had disappeared. And for two years there was no news about my husband. I gradually began to give up hope that I’d ever see him again.

Vera passed the next years living in a refugee camp outside Copenhagen and working as a cook for a Norwegian gentleman.

In 1947, more than two years after her departure, Vera finally received a letter from her husband Alberts, who had located her with the assistance of the Latvian Aid Committee. He’d ended up in Sweden, and Vera soon joined him in the city of Lidkoeping.