By Viktors Duks/Talis Esmits/Jonathan Baynard
2022 will go down in our history as a year of actions, Legenda covered wars long past to current conflicts. It was an emotional year for many of the members both in Latvia and in Ukraine.
THE HOLOCAUST (Latvia: 1941-1945)
This was one of the most emotional, complex, and technically difficult missions for our members, because of the nature of this war crime against civilians, genocide, the tradition of the Jewish people, tragedy. This was exacerbated by the lack of experience of today's European specialists to deal with this kind of issues combined here.
The Legenda Team along with members of the Baldone Museum. Photo: Legenda 2022
In 2022, we were approached by the local researchers of the city of Baldone with a request to support the exhumation and reburial of the remains of citizens of the Republic of Latvia, residents of Jewish nationality, who were murdered in the period around July/August 1941. Local archaeologists did a tremendous job of uncovering step by step the place where the mass grave of the civilian population was discovered.
The mass grave was located in the forest in the trenches of the First World War, at a depth of 30-50 cm, the burial was penetrated by a system of tree roots, which complicated the exhumation of the remains.
Without carrying out full-fledged research, it was not possible to determine the boundaries of burials there. All exhumation works were coordinated with the Jewish community of Latvia, whose representatives were present.
During the exhumation, the remains of 39 people were exhumed; 29 adults and 10 children. Initially, the shallow burial had been disturbed by forest animals. Based on the position and location of the human bones, it could be concluded that the burial site had been disturbed before. The exhumation was also covered by the French Newspaper Le Monde in-depth.
During the summer of 2022 the burial ritual was held at the Baldone cemetery. Photo: Legenda 2022
THE FREEDOM WARS OF LATVIA (1918- 1921)
The archive of the Brethren Grave Commission contained information that the hero of the Freedom Wars, Sergeant Ludviķis Fricis Blaksons, was buried in the forest massif in the Riga territory during the battles. In 2021, the search unit "Legenda" found the first burial place and exhumed it as a result of the search.
In 2022, the granddaughter of another hero of the Latvian War for Independence, Kārlis Augusts Bušs, turned to the "Legenda" search unit for support with a request to rebury her grandfather at the Riga Brethren Cemetery, where according to his status he should be.
Thus, this year, only two cavaliers of Latvia's highest military award (the Military Order of Lāčplēsis) were ceremonially reburied in the Riga Brethren Cemetery.
THE FIRST WORLD WAR (1914-1918)
In 2019, the reconstruction works of the Brasa Bridge were started in Riga, as a result of which the burials of the garrison of the Imperial Russian Army were excavated.
During the investigation and consultation, "Legenda" was invited to carry out monitoring and exhumation work.
After a technical break, in 2022, the reconstruction works were resumed, which continue under the newly constructed area. The problem with the project was that there must be close cooperation between the construction company and Legenda , which did not succeed every time. But as a result, all the planned works were carried out. Thank you for your understanding to the city of Riga and of course to the builders. In 2022, just one part was reburied in the territory of the Riga cemetery.
Work on this project is still ongoing.
WORLD WAR II (1941-1945)
Legenda continued its work on the examination of the burials of the Red Army, following the suggestions and requests of the relatives.
These are the original burials during the the war, which, according to the available documents, were reburied and moved to other Red Army Brethren Cemeteries. Burials that, according to the documents, were reburied on other Red Army Brethren Cemeteries.
As a result of the research, several original war field burial sites were discovered, which were reburied in cemeteries only formally - "on paper", but in fact, the burials were located in the original place, which is not a war cemetery, but an agricultural, forestry and recreational area.
Two burials from these areas were exhumed during the autumn period
During the summer and autumn expeditions, two burials were exhumed in the Dobele region, most of the buried were Latvian soldiers who were conscripted into the ranks of the Red Army in the fall of 1944 and 1945.
In the fall of 2022, these soldiers were reburied in Dobele and Irlava Red Army Brethren cemeteries, where their names were already engraved on the tombstones as well as in the burial register lists.
THE SEARCH (2022)
Legenda replied to the call of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia and municipal institutions to provide support, which includes the arrangement and relocation of soldiers' graves, Legenda carried out search-probing-exhumation works in the city of Jēkabpils. The remains of Red Army soldiers were found in the city centre, which are r