Parts of tanks and guns, and other dangerous remains of military equipment, perforated by bullets, rusty helmets, uniforms with various army emblems, daily items from the front, and guns, which look more dangerous than they are in reality, old photographs with the faces of dedicated soldiers. These and many other exhibits connected with war and army life are stored in the Līdumnieki Parish former Council building of the Cibla District (former Ludza District).
Through efforts of local young people, a unique military equipment museum has now been created which is visited by people from all over Latvia, right in Latvia’s border region, at a once run down municipality centre. The tourists are often awaited by a unique show — men with menacing faces dressed in German and Soviet army uniforms “receive prisoners”, “loosen tongues”, launch an attack form trenches, but, when the first fear has been overcome, one can have a laugh, take photographs in battlefield conditions and try the meagre frontline rations. Entry to the museum is currently by donation.
“Nearly all items on display have been collected in the municipality, in swamps and forests. The local residents themselves have brought and given us a lot. There were fierce battles around Cibla during the Second World War, a whole tank division was defeated, and I remember that as a child I saw helmets lying all around in the forest. Gradually we started to collect everything and take it home by car and tractor,” says Imants Novožilovs. He, together with his brother Ivars, their friends Guntars Sidarāns and Aldis Gusāns, were the enthusiasts and creators of the museum. Imants owns a farmstead right here in Līdumnieki; Ivars is a teacher, leads a Young Guards group and usually brings his group members for lessons and introduces them to authentic military equipment.
Imants says that his interest in history developed during his school years. Now the lads would like to systematise the collected exhibits and process them, as there are many exhibits and not enough space to store all of them. Around the museum building there is an old park, which should also be cleaned up and used for exhibits. Local residents, mainly men, gladly visit the museum and donate relics and uniforms from their service days, as well as war time photographs. A valuable exhibit is the diving suit, as well as a French machinegun, found in Istalsna forest. There have also been foreign visitors, including those from Germany, who viewed all the exhibits with great interest. Museum employees from Ostrova (Russia) have also visited.