Zigrid (Zig) Vidners wrote of her childhood in an earlier book, "I Grew Up In Latvia." Now, in a poignant memoir of displacement after World War II, she continues the story of a young woman who must now make a new life in Germany and then in Britain. Latvians hardly saw the communists as liberators at the end of the war. Latvia was swallowed up and, as Vidners writes, Latvians had become "Displaced Persons." "We were people who came from nowhere, for there was no country called Latvia anymore. It had been given away as a gift to the biggest butcher in the world."
As Russian tanks invaded Latvia toward the end of the war, many Latvians fled to Germany. Latvian men had joined the Germans to fight the Russians, little aware of the Nazi atrocities. In 1944, at the age of eighteen, Vidners, along with her mother and brother, resettled in Germany. (Her father had been drafted by the Germans and was never to see his homeland again.) For awhile, the family had some sense of routine. But "even though there were dances and activities," Vidners writes, "it was more like fleeing and hiding from the bitter truth that there was no home, no country and no future. We were a branch, torn off a tree, lying there and lingering but not really living."
"A Branch Without A Tree" (paperback, self-published; for purchase information contact the author at email@example.com) is a vivid memoir of Vidners' life from 1944 to 1963, when, after living in Britain for many years, she prepares for an American journey. Through it all is an underlying faith that day by day God provides the necessities of life, in the midst of much sadness but also in moments of joy.
Life in Germany offered little promise, yet it was with trepidation that Vidners accepted the opportunity to sail to England. She found a job at a hospital, and, along with others from Latvia, a new re-building began. The book details everyday life, the enjoyment of fish and chips, memorable Christmas seasons, the author's meeting with Edvins Vidners (who would soon become her husband), and the birth of Uldis ("Uli") and Maris.
It is a captivating story, well told (and edited).