das gefrorene meer, jahrgang 2007
deutsche Fassung ???
The Prison of Daugavpils

Picture by Carsten Wilde
Story by Frederik Hartig
Translation by Beatrix Weber
Click on the image for gallery
Daugavpils, in the south-east of the country, having 110,000 inhabitants, is the second biggest city of Latvia. The locals are proud of their church hill, an ensemble of three churches: a Russian Orthodox, a Lutheranian and a Catholic one. On the way there, you cross a bridge and on the right side of the road street there is the city’s prison. It was built as such in 1863 and has remained in that use until now. About 500 men serving all sorts of sentences are said to be imprisoned here: from Paragraph 101 (pollution of the sea) to burglary and murder. The prisoners put their heads through the bars and look at the white church with the blue dome, the bridge, the trams and sometimes, when a girl passes by, one of them blows a letter through a pipe onto the street:

Девушки Здравсвуйте

Девчёнки не хотите ли вы познакомиться с весёлыми, привлекательными с чувством юмора персонами. Девчёнки вы просто красавицы. Я бы точно отдал бы вам своё сердце, душу и самого себя; чтоб вы только согласились бы познакомиться. Девчёнки вы бы знали как нам тут скучно бес Вас и не хватает Вас Если захотите познакомиться, тогда поднимайте руку и подаждите две минуты мы тогда напишим свои данные.
Ну всё девчёнки мы Вас любим!

С уважением к вам
  Hello girls,

girls, wouldn’t you like to get to know some cheerful, charming guys with a sense of humour. Girls, you are simply beautiful. I would like to give you my heart, my soul and myself: if only you were willing to get to know me. Girls, if you only knew, how boring it is in here without you, how much we miss you. If you would like to get to know us, then raise your hands and wait for 2 minutes. Then we give you our details.
That’s it, girls, we love you,

Most respectfully,

While the girls read and translate the letter for us, the prisoners howl and more letters come down. Then two watchmen stand beside us. Kindly but firmly they ask us to hand over the letter. We do. The watchmen try to prevent any external contact with the prisoners. They can restrict it, but they can’t stop it. Even if they take away the paper and the pipes, the prisoners will have the time to think of other options.

Thanks to Svetlana Ivashina

More pictures of and articles about Latvia: www.bookaboutlatvia.de
Carsten Wilde: about the fotographer
Frederik Hartig: about the writer
Beatrix Weber: about the translater