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Valdis Lauva: From 'Insula' to the USA
By Elisabeth Lauva
Jan 26, 2014 - 12:27:31 AM

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The Original Title of this article is:

Valdis Lauva (1908-2000) Rochester, New York USA

By Elisabeth Lauva(1919-2013)

Valdis Lauva was born to Alfreds and Mathilde (Madzins) Lauva in Lubana, Latvia on May 3, 1908. He attended a teachers college and later taught at the school in Lubana, where he was also a scout leader. At that time, Valdis was married to Mirta.

In 1944, Valdis was drafted into the German army and was sent to Germany but Mirta was pregnant and stayed in Latvia. When the war ended in 1945, he and other Latvians were moved to the DP camp, Insula, in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Valdis was not able to find out what happened to Mirta after the war. She was subsequently legally declared dead, so we were able to marry. It was not till later when the mail got through; we received word that Valdis' family in Latvia was fine.

Valdis Lauva painting. He was a math teacher, photographer, singer, violinist and poet.

I was born to Emil and Anna (Schober) Andersohn in Berlin, Germany on December 29, 1919. I was the youngest of eight children. I received three years of nurses training, and worked in a city hospital in Berlin. In 1943, while the war was raging, all the hospital patients and workers were evacuated to Carlsbad, Germany.

After the war, in June 1948, while going home from vacationing in Berchtesgaden, I was waiting for a train in Reichenhall when I met Valdis, who had taken a train to Reichenhall for lessons in painting. I came back to Berchtesgaden on October 3 and we were married on December 9, 1948, by Pastor Jekabs Osis in the church at Insula. In 1949, for about a half year, I worked in the Reichenhall DP hospital, traveling by train from Berchtesgaden back and forth.

At Insula, Valdis was a math teacher with many interests and talents such as painting in oil and watercolors, writing poetry, singing, playing the violin, and collecting Latvian books. We enjoyed hiking with Karlis Tilts especially the Gotzen Alm in the Berchtesgaden Alps. Karlis Tilts was killed in Detroit, Michigan while crossing a street in 1988.

School kids with Valdis Lauva as their teacher

Grade School in Insula 1948

In 1949 we immigrated to America, sailing on the SS General Muir, and arriving in Boston on December 2. We settled in Albany, New York. Valdis worked in variety of jobs: as a caretaker, construction and railroad repair worker; and he attended Rensselaer Technical Institute in Troy, New York to become a draftsman.

In 1954 we moved to Rochester, New York where Valdis worked as a draftsman. I worked as a nurse for eleven years before injuring my back, which forced me to quit nursing. I retrained in drafting and worked in the engineering department as a draftsman for General Motors.

In 1955, our daughter, Velta, was born. She is like her father in many ways with talents that include making her own Latvian costumes. We participated as a family in many Latvian song festivals--Velta singing as a soprano, I as an alto, and Valdis as a bass. In 2004, a Latvian song festival was held in Toronto and Velta with her children--Silvia and Aleks Zadins--and I sang in the choir. We also sang at the Latvian song festival in Indianapolis in 2007.

In 1965, we bought eight acres of land with lots of trees near a big hill in Wayland, south of Rochester--our 'Atmatas' (forest land). Here, Valdis became a builder: first he built a barn, then a two-room cottage; and when he retired, he built our house.

Valdis' son Arvaldis, by his former marriage, and his grandson, Ingars, live in Madona, Latvia.

Arvaldis with his wife Brigita and their son were able to visit us on several occasions. Valdis, Velta and I visited them also in Latvia.

Valdis' cousin, Karlis Lauva (1906-1998) lived in Fox Lake, Illinois.

In 1998 we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. Valdis passed away in (2000). I miss him very much as a dear husband, father, and grandfather.

Elisabeth Lauva

Spring of 1946 class photo of kids in front of the school. Some students did not have shoes

Watercolor by Valdis Lauva

Berchtesgaden Before Insula (Island of Hope)
by Andris E. Spura
December 18, 2013

From Riga we traveled by freight car to Skrunda, in Western Latvia, where my mother's friend, Regina Ginters lived (wife of Arnolds Janis Ginters, DVM). We were there only until October 11, because the front was approaching from the south and the Russians flew air raids every night. We traveled to Liepaja, at the western coast of Latvia. Just a day or so after we arrived, we were walking near the harbor at ten o'clock in the morning. Quite unexpectedly, a member of the Tautas Palidziba (Help to the People) offered us a "number" (a free ticket) for a ship that was sailing at 1:00 p.m. for Germany. Three hours later, we were on our way.

Book Title: Insula - Island of Hope
ISBN: 978-1-61863-383-5
Book Pages: 453
Price: $22.95
Ventis Plume and John Plume, Editors

Excerpts and photographs from 'Insula - Island of Hope' already published at Magic City include:

January 17, 2014 German Lutheran Diakonie's 60th anniversary celebration in Berchtesgaden

January 10, 2014 Latvian Story of 'Fleeing From The Soviets'

December 18, 2013 359 Bombers Over Berchtesgaden - Excerpt from Insula-Island of Hope

December 17, 2013 Berchtesgaden Before Insula (Island of Hope) by Andris E. Spura (at Kingscalendar)

December 10, 2013 Ernst Vahi recalls departure: Excerpt from Insula - Island of Hope

November 23, 2013 Photographs of WWII Refugee Camps (Latvian Insula)

November 17, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Men's volleyball team at Insula in 1946

November 17, 2013 Twin Sisters, Many Journeys: Excerpt from 'Insula - Island of Hope'

November 16, 2013 Stories of WWII Latvian Refugees (at

November 10, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Insula - Island of Hope

November 10, 2013 Insula Began in Bruckmuhl (Excerpt from 'Insula - Island of Hope')

November 3, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Watercolors of Insula by Leo Trinkuns (1899-1948)

November 3, 2013 Forward to Insula - Island of Hope by Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga

October 27, 2013 New Book about Latvians Displaced by World War II

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