Tales about the first world war in the archives of Latvian folklore

Keywords: collections of the Archives of Latvian Folklore, tale, the First World War, Latvian War of Independence
Language: In Latvian

The paper focuses on the analysis of a set of folklore items related to the First World War, included in the collections of the Archives of Latvian Folklore (ALF). Closer research attention is devoted to the narrative genre of folklore tales and to problems of the collective memory and commemoration in connection with historical events, giving special attention to tales recollecting comparatively unknown events at the beginning of the First World War and the destiny of Latvian soldiers of that time, as well as to the contradictory, dramatic, and traumatic events of the Latvian War of Independence.

A tale is an everyday-experience-based narrative which tells about and reflects on the events that have occurred in the narrator’s life or in the life of a person known to the narrator. Tales involving the events of the First World War and the further development of the events during the Latvian War of Independence so far have been described only in some publications, and folklore items of ALF collections have not been widely used as the research source either. Tales about the First World War in ALF collections do not present a compact set of texts and actually are to be extracted from other folklore materials.

The paper offers a hitherto rarely used source for inter-branch studies and brings into focus a theme that has not been extensively explored in folklore studies as yet. The aim of the paper is to bring this ALF source into the forefront, to show possible research perspectives, and offer research insight into the set of collection tales pertaining to the First World War. The paper is especially concerned with the tales recalling military operations of the Russian Empire army in East Prussia in the first half of 1914 and during the first months of 1915, as well as with the experience obtained during the captivity that followed these events. The paper also dwells on tales about the events of the Latvian War of Independence on the territory of Latvia, in 1919. The tales mentioned above offer great research possibilities, and tales of ALF collections and other folklore genres related to the events of the First World War are to be regarded as a valuable research source.