Pictures of a postcard (2)

‘Greetings from Riga’

Another peculiar card posted at Riga on June 5th1907. A tramcar is waiting in the back while some government officials make an arrest on the track. The sender of the card a certain man called Dolf from the Netherlands wrote on the backside. “Dear father and family, I just arrived after a delayed sea travel and here the picture of my reception.”  Furthermore: “I am very tired from the long journey, later I’ll write again.” The communications of those days but also the fact it was worth to publish a postcard with a picture like this.
The stamp obviously has found another collection; the number instead is mine because beside the card itself all sorts of information are stored on a spread sheet. However, behind the image there’s another truth. A part of my roots originated not far from Riga in a city called Jelgava but also known under the German name Mitau. My grandfather the late Willy Hirschhorn (Wulf for friends) was born here on August 26th 1889. By that time fully under Russian control only during the period between the two World Wars the Baltic States tasted a kind of freedom. The fall of the Berlin Wall and tearing down the rest of the Irion Curtain brought independence for Latvia and both neighbors Lithuania and Estonia.
I am raised with the idea that I had a grandfather from Russia and the fact that he spoke a few words of that language was convincing enough for a kid hardly having any knowledge about the world geography and historical perspective. He definitely had a German background and Jewish as well though he managed to survive the ordeal of the pogroms and later of the Nazi camps. Genocide and madness, the ones who survived had to carry the scarves for the rest of their lives. He never spoke about neither with his wife, my grandmother, nor daughter, my mother.
The day he died a certain mystery seemed to be confined being a mystery for ever. Cards like this trigger a certain memory but a remembrance that’s not mine and still I can feel it in the veins. How much one can inherit from one of his ancestors? 
A certain character, the East European melancholy and always being were you not belong.  The tram of Riga I did not ride until now though I am still eager to do so and for sure going to Mitau and see if there any other reminiscence can be found. From Riga I shall post another card for my collection, a new one if available, so the heritage will be prolonged for an unpredictable futuristic feature.    


About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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