Jews in Nazi-occupied Latvia in 1941-1945

The third room of the exhibition presents the tragedy of the Holocaust in Latvia. With documents, photo and video evidence, it recounts the murder of more than 70,000 Latvian Jews in a few months. The fate of German, Austrian, Czech and Hungarian Jews deported here is also described. A special section is dedicated to the exploits of Jewish rescuers.

In 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union and completely occupied Latvia. The first days of occupation were marked with discrimination and violence towards Jews and the destruction of the synagogues. From July to August 1941 mass killings took place in all of Latvia that completely “cleansed” all of the Latvian countryside of the Jewish population, with exception of three major Latvian cities where Ghettos were established and operated from 1941 to 1943.

The majority of the Jews from these cities faced a terrible fate  on November-December 1941 they were murdered in various major mass killings at Poguļanka forest near Daugavpils, at Šķēde dunes in Liepāja and the Rumbula forest around Riga.

After the killing of nearly all Latvian Jews, Riga became an imprisonment site for thousands of Jews deported from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Most of them were murdered in Biķernieki forest in Riga on 1942-1943. Those who were used by the Nazis for slave work were imprisoned in  concentration camps, most of them were located in Riga-Kaiserwald with many branches including the camp system in northern Kurzeme.

Despite the harsh life in imprisonment, the Jews in Latvia tried to resist the extermination by running away, forming underground groups and secretly gathering weapons and other supplies.

Only about 400 Jews in Latvia survived the Holocaust (Shoah) greatly thanks to the fellow citizens who risked their lives by saving Jews from almost irresistible extermination.