Out of Latvia: The Son of a Latvian Immigrant Searches for his Roots


A story of two men, a generation apart, one growing up in the shadow of the other.

Peter Jirgens tells the story of his youth as the son of Arnold Jirgens, a Latvian immigrant, who struggled against discrimination to establish his family in Nowra, Australia. He shares the stories his father told him of the hardship of life under Soviet rule, his escape from Europe after World War II and the early days of his new life as an immigrant in a land far from home.

Fiercely Latvian, Arnold Jirgens longs to see his homeland once more and find out if his remaining family has survived, but as a Latvian citizen he, and any son of his, could be drafted into the Soviet army or sent to Siberia.

Over the years, Arnold’s longing becomes Peter’s dream. Though his father is prepared to wait until the Soviets no longer control his country, Peter is not.

In 1980, against the wishes of his parents and the advice of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, twenty-seven-year-old Peter enters Soviet communist-controlled territory.

His thirst for adventure almost costs him his life.

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