Book collects memories of Insula DP camp

Among the Displaced Persons camps scattered across occupied Germany after World War II was one at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps. A small camp compared to some of the other temporary homes for displaced Latvians, Insula provided some of the most breathtaking vistas.

Two brothers, Ventis and John Plūme, spent part of their young lives in the Insula camp and have now edited a book of memories and photographs, Insula Displaced Persons Assembly Center: A Latvian Memoir. Ventis Plūme, who lives in Alaska, and John Plūme, who lives in Minnesota, have worked on the book for several years. They collected dozens of written memories and hundreds of photographs.

Their father was scheduled for deportation to Siberia during the 1941 Soviet occupation of Latvia, but the family escaped and eventually found itself in Germany, where they were assigned to the Insula camp.

Berchtesgaden became well known because Adolf Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” vacation home was located nearby.

The 378-page book is published by Kirk House of Minneapolis, Minn., and sells for USD 30. For further information about the book, visit


A new book provides memories and photographs of the Insula Displaced Persons camp.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

10 thoughts on “Book collects memories of Insula DP camp

  1. Thank you for the announcement on your website. We are pleased to share memories with readers of similar backgrounds. Leaving home for anyone was not a happy event of our lives, yet our parents braved the dangers to seek freedom and safety for their families. We hoped that this book will tell part of our history.

  2. I am very pleased to see that Ventis and John finally pulled it off! I am anxious to get the book in my hands and start reading. Thank you both for doing this, I think it is a great job and a great way for people to find out more about the history of Latvian deportees.

  3. Just read this great and memory refreshing book! Similar to the play “Esslingen”, this book is equaly interesting and informative for persons who were in any other DP Camp in Germany. Also, my children and Grandchildren found this book very interesting about their Dad/Grandpapa’s life during this period.
    Well done Plume brothers, your great efforts in publishing this book were realy worth while.


  4. I just obtained several copies of the book – one for me and a couple as gifts for my children and close friends. The many pictures and stories (one of which was about me and my family) brought back many memories – some of which were quite pleasant and some – not so pleasant. Americans cannot fathom the sort of life that Displaced Persons led, which is quite understandable. I spent more than 20 years in the US Air Force, and traveled all over the world – including Vietnam – and formed many friendships. When the conversations turned to my background and I told them about our refugee experiences, they all marveled and found it hard to believe. This book will serve as a memento of our experiences for us, and, hopefully, as an educational tool for our native-born American friends. My hat is off to you, Ventis and Janis!

  5. A wonderful and interesting book !
    For those that have been there it is hard to put down, For others it is fascinating reading full of pictures to show the people there and the surounding scenery. Well put togeather.
    Congratulations Venti un Jani !

  6. I enjoyed this book very much. The power of the book came from the various memoirs. The authors wisely allowed each contributor to write what they wanted and to write it is the style they wanted. Some stories are short and some are long. Some are very personal and emotional, and others are very matter of fact. The variety makes it very interesting. The core of the book are the stories about the time in Insula. But to understand why Insual was so special to the residents of Insula and why so many of them have gone back to revisit Insula, you have to read the stories that tell of the journeys from Latvia to Insula and the stories that tell what it was like to leave. Interspersed among the stories are well researched background material that is very important for those readers who do not know the history of Latvia and do not knwo why people left. This book is very well put together.

  7. Whilst Insula is not part of my father’s history after reading the first two sections I have gained a lot of answer to unanswered questions about my father’s flight from Latvia to Germany. Amazing how helful the Germans seemed to be when all was crumbling about them. I will write more after reading the book. Great work guys.

  8. Edgars Ozols seemed to be amazed that the Germans seemed to be helpful to us, the refugees. Why not? They were fighting the Russians and we hated the Russians (with good reason, I might add). They thought of us “Aryans”, but maybe not as pure as they were.

  9. My dad Robert’s Maris Zemmers contributed many pictures a while back but died last year. I’ve come across a lot more pictures if anyone is interested. I’m his only living son and never had children so this would help preserve my family heritage. I’m in Lakewood Washington.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *