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Arvid Theodors Hammers - Immigrant Stories

Arvid Hammers was born in Riga, Latvia in 1942 during the German occupation of that country. His family fled Latvia in 1944 as the Soviet Army was approaching, and he spent the next seven years in a series of refugee camps in Germany. The family emigrated to the United States in 1951, settling in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

The family flees Latvia

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Growing up in Germany in post-war Europe

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Arvid’s emigration to American in 1951, and life in the United States


Photos

Caption

Anna Jekaba Hammers was Arvid’s paternal grandmother, born in 1889 in Rankas, Latvia. Anna was responsible for running the family business, a chain and nail factory in Latvia. She stayed in Latvia when Arvid’s family fled to Germany in 1944.

Where:

Latvia

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This is a formal photo of Teodor Hammers, Arvid’s paternal grandfather, taken during World War II. Teodor was later killed in an automobile accident.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Circa 1939-1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid at two months old is held by his mother Milda in Riga, Latvia, in 1942.

Where:

Riga, Latvia

When:

1942

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid’s father and grandfather owned a chain factory in Riga, Latvia. This photo of the factory employees was taken sometime in 1940. (The Soviets occupied Latvia in June, 1940.) Anna, Arvid’s grandmother is seated in the middle of the front row.

Where:

Riga, Latvia

When:

1940

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid Alexander Hammers, Arvid’s father, is pictured with Arvid at about age four in the late 1940s, likely in Germany after leaving Latvia.

Where:

Germany

When:

Late 1940s

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This picture of Arvid on November 22, 1947 was taken when he was five while in Kempten, Bavaria, likely one of the places the family lived while in Germany.

Where:

Kempten, Bavaria

When:

November 22, 1947

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Displaced Persons Camp in the northern district of Bad Cannstatt, Germany where Arvid and his parents stayed after the Soviet invasion and occupation of Latvia. They lived in Germany from 1944 to 1951. This camp was later named Camp Funker Kaserne.

Where:

Bad Cannstatt, Germany

When:

1944 to 1951

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid’s father was a staff member with the International Recovery Organization, which operated out of a number of locations in Germany to help in the post-war recovery efforts. This picture was taken of the staff in Nellingen, Germany in 1950.

Where:

Nellingen, Germany

When:

1950

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid, nine years old, with his mother, Milda Leipins Hammers while traveling by train, in November, 1951. The family was moving from Hindenburg to Bremen, Germany as part of journey to the port of debarkation and departure to America.

Where:

Germany

When:

November, 1951

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The embarkation station for the Hammers family was Camp Grohn, Bremen, Germany, December, 1951.

Where:

Camp Grohn, Bremen, Germany

When:

1951

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.



Caption

The USS General Leroy Eltinge, was a Navy transport ship that made several trips from New York to Bremerhaven, Germany to bring refugees to the United States. Arvid and his parents processed through Ellis Island in New York City, December, 1951.

Where:

USS General Leroy Eltinge

When:

December, 1951.

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Arvid, age ten, is shown shortly after arriving in the United States. The picture was taken in Chicago, Illinois circa 1951-1952.

Where:

Chicago, Illinois

When:

Circa 1951-1952

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid’s family lived on the second floor of this two story house, their first home in America, located near the Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, in the early 1950’s. Arvid’s mother helped clean the house for the landlady living on the first floor.

Where:

Chicago

When:

Early 1950's

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid and his parents are pictured visiting with a second cousin in Bellwood, Illinois in the early 1950’s.

Where:

Bellwood, Illinois

When:

Early 1950's

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid, about thirteen, is posing with boxing gloves in Chicago, Illinois. Arvid worked at Sears, part-time, and was able to use the YMCA as an employee benefit. He earned pocket money boxing and playing pool.

Where:

Chicago, Illinois

When:

Circa 1955

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

In 1956, Arvid is pictured (third from the left, back row) with his 8th grade class at Morse School, Chicago, Illinois.

Where:

Chicago, Illinois

When:

1956

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Arvid at age nineteen (circa 1961) in Chicago, Illinois.

Where:

Chicago, Illinois

When:

Circa 1961

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid Hammers donned his graduation gown for his graduation from John Marshall High School, Chicago, IL in 1961.

Where:

Chicago, Illinois

When:

1961

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Arvid traveled to Latvia with his three children in July, 2014. A family picture was taken outside a restaurant in with Theodore (Teddy), Alexander (Alex), and Margot.

Where:

Riga, Latvia

When:

July, 2014

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This is a picture of Arvid Hammers, September, 2014.

Where:

Unknown

When:

September, 2014

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Latvian Namejs ring with bold braiding in silver or gold is given to family or friends as a symbol of friendship and trust. Arvid had a ring made for each of his children by a jeweler in Riga. Engraved in each ring are the words “God is guarding me”.

Where:

Riga, Latvia

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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