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Table 4.1: Latvian women’s work in the Third Reich and in displaced persons’ camps, 1944–47

Agnese 1926 munitions factory school and then office work

Anya 1930 cigarette factory school

Anyuta 1929 no information school

Beate 1927 domestic work school

Brigita 1930 farm work kitchen work, then ward orderly

Dagnija 1919 office work in factory office work

Diana 1920 factory work camp kitchens

Elvira 1920 paper mill teaching, then attended university

Eva 1928 munitions factory camp kitchens

Grieta 1918 n/s n/s

Helena 1927 domestic service, munitions kitchen work

Ida 1914 office work (in uncle’s kitchen work Brewery in Germany)

Ilona 1926 agricultural work kitchen work

Jelena 1931 with parents on school shooting lodge

Lina 1931 casual domestic work school, plus informal work (ironing etc)

Lize 1928 agricultural work school, then clerical work

Lizina 1928 kitchen work kitchen work

Mara 1916 n/s kitchen work

Monika 1930 farm work laundry, then office work

Natalija 1926 farm work school

Pauline 1924 street cleaning patient in hospital

Valda 1919 helper in children's home office work

Velta 1926 surface coal sorting kitchens, bar work, glove making

Vieda 1930 hospital laundry office work

The university to which Elvira refers was established by scholars from all three Baltic countries with some support from the British authorities. It opened in March 1946, initially housed in the Deutscher Ring insurance headquarters (which was also home to over 1,000 refugees) and was then moved to the Museum for Hamburg History, as Zenta recalls. This latter building had been badly bombed and so in early 1947 the university was rehoused again, this time in a former Luftwaffe School in Pinneberg. The status of the university was problematic as it struggled for recognition by British military and UNRRA officials and it was eventually officially recognised as the ‘DP University Study Centre’, where students studied mainly preparatory courses to aid their transfer to the established universities in Germany. For Elvira, more than a decade later, struggling to have her qualifications as a teacher recognised by a British local authority, the status of the university centre once again became important. Wyman (1998, pp 126-27) in his discussion of this institution, mentions that the students were often hungry as the diet was even more inadequate than in the camps and the Red Cross found TB was not uncommon among them, in part because of the poor nutrition. But as Elvira’s narrative reveals, the sense of freedom outweighed these physical hardships. As well as the university centre that Elvira attended, the occupation authorities also required German universities to reserve 10% of their places for displaced persons and apparently these quotas were filled (Wyman 1998). Anya, for example, completed her pre-university qualifications in a camp and had been offered a university place under this scheme. In the event, her plans were stymied as she came to Britain as an EVW before she had the opportunity to take up her place.