Out of Latvia: The Story of Peter Jirgens

by David Kerr

David Kerr’s first book, Out of Latvia was successfully launched at Kiama Library last Saturday, with around 100 people in attendance. 

Tahlia Newland of AIA Publishing, editor and publisher, introduced the hero, Peter Jirgens, and the author, David. David told of how he met Peter on a charity bike ride, where Peter kept the cyclist spellbound for three nights with his amazing experiences. It was then that David decided that Australians needed to read this story, and took up the challenge.

At the launch, Peter presented photos of his family, scenes from Latvia, and introduced the book to the attentive audience. He read of his first moment of terror on his Latvian mission, when he landed at Moscow airport, and was confronted by members of the Russian military on the tarmac, and refused to leave the aircraft!

Kiama Launch 02 Cropped

Tahlia Newland introduces Peter Jirgens and David Kerr (right). Photo provided by author.


In Out of Latvia, 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 Two, 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 and sent off 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 nearly cost him his life.

Kiama Launch

Kerr, "saying my bit". Photo provided by author.

About the Author

David Kerr has celebrated life over the years through many diverse expressions, including his work as a Relationship Therapist, trainer, educator, radio broadcaster and pastor. He is a husband, father, grandfather, Francophile, traveller, cyclist, skier, surfer and artist.

David’s journey has been shaped by issues of social justice; the impact of clients’ experiences and the stories of fellow travellers, which feed his passion for writing. He lives with his wife at Gerroa. David is ready to leave this planet when he believes he can no longer make a difference.

Published by AIA PublishingOut of Latvia is out now, available through David’s website.

Upcoming Book Launches:

March 31: 4pm – 6pm, The Latvian Society, 32 Parnell St, Strathfield

April 8: 4pm – 6pm, The Jirgens Property, 158 Hockey Lane, Cambewarra

If you have any enquiries for David, he can be contacted at dwkerr@westnet.com.au.

Written by SCWC

Posted on March 15, 2017