Workshop at the Holocaust & Genocide Centre

On 15 February I gave a couple of workshops at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

One session was for survivors and the other for staff and members.

(L-R). Eli Rabinowitz & Don Krausz

This was the first time I had presented specifically to a group of survivors, although I had filmed several survivors’ testimonies in the past.

I showed photos from my trips to the Baltics & Eastern Europe as well as some videos from my Zog Nit Keynmol project for King David & Herzlia Schools.

The most noticeable outcome was the positive reaction to my initiative to get our youth learning and singing Zog Nit Keynmol, the Partisan Song.

(L-R). Eli, Veronica Phillips, Barbara Berman

For more details on Zog Nit Keynmol, please visit:

The two key videos to watch are:

the Phillip Maisel Interview

Herzlia’s Vocal Ensemble Sings:

Below is a video of Freidi Mrocki reciting the poem in English. Freidi is the teacher at Sholem Aleichem College in Melbourne, who recorded the interview with Phillip Maisel in 2015.


(L-R). Shirley Sapire, Betty Slowatek, Eli, Margaret Hoffman


IMG_5458 IMG_5450 IMG_5462 IMG_5463 IMG_5467 IMG_5468 IMG_5480 IMG_5481 IMG_5447 Holocaust Centre

Malat – 29 August 2016

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 12.17.33 AM




Times Of Israel report on the Malat Event


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Molėtai, vaizdas nuo tvenkinio.JPG
Coat of arms of Molėtai
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 55°14′N 25°25′ECoordinates55°14′N 25°25′E
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Aukštaitija
County Utena County COA.pngUtena County
Municipality Molėtai district municipality
Capital of Molėtai district municipality
First mentioned 1387 Feb. 17[1]
Granted city rights 1539
Population (2013)
 • Total 6,302
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Molėtai (About this sound pronunciation PolishMalaty) is a town in north eastern Lithuania. One of the oldest settlements in Lithuania, it is a popular resort for the inhabitants of Vilnius. According to the 2013 census, it had 6,302 inhabitants.

The town is located about 60 km (37 mi) north of Vilnius and 30 km (19 mi) south of Utena.


It was first mentioned as a private property of the bishop of Vilnius.

On August 29, 1941, 700 to 1,200 Jews were murdered in a mass execution perpetrated by an Einsatzgruppen of Lithuanian nationalists.[2]

In modern times the city has Molėtai Astronomical Observatory, the only such facility in Lithuania. And Lithuanian Museum of Ethnocosmology – the first such type of museum in the world.


My Visit To US Holocaust Memorial Museum


This was my first visit to the USHMM. My last visit to Washington DC was before the museum opened in 1980.


Map of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 

Museum in Washington, D.C., United States of America
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the United States’ official memorial to the Holocaust. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the USHMM provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. Wikipedia
Address100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States



My photos:

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The Permanent Exhibition:

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Photos from Ejszyski, a Litvak shtetl

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Three Minutes in Poland by Glenn Kurtz

A remarkable story which takes place in Nasielsk, Poland in 1938. Nasielsk is where my wife’s Reitstein / Rotsztejn family come from.

The original film is at the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive at USHMM

Visit the Nasielsk KehilaLink:

The Wiener Library, London




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Wiener Library

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide is the world’s oldest institution devoted to the study of the Holocaust, its causes and legacies. Founded in 1933 as an information bureau that informed Jewish communities and governments worldwide about the persecution of the Jews under the Nazis, it was transformed into a research institute and public access library after the end of World War II. The official name of the institution is “The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide”[1] and is now situated in Russell SquareLondon.[2]


Alfred Wiener, a German Jew who worked for the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith), a Jewish civil rights group, spent years documenting the rise of antisemitism. He collected books, photographs, letters, magazines and other materials, including school primers and children’s games,[3] recording the spread of Nazi propaganda and its racist doctrines.[4]

In 1933, Wiener fled Germany for Amsterdam and then settled in Britain. The collection opened in London on 1 September 1939, the day of the Nazi invasion of Poland. It was known as the Jewish Central Information Office and functioned as a private intelligence service. Wiener was paid by the British government to keep Britain informed of developments in Germany.[5]

After the end of World War II, the library used its extensive collections on National Socialism and the Third Reich to provide material to the United Nations War Crimes Commission and bringing war criminals to justice.

The Library’s most successful publishing venture was the production of a bi-monthly bulletin commencing in November 1946 (and which continued until 1983). Another important task during the 1950s and 1960s was the gathering of eyewitness accounts, a resource that was to become a unique and important part of the Library’s collection. The accounts were collected systematically by a team of interviewers. In 1964, the Institute of Contemporary History was established and took up the neglected field of modern European history within The Wiener Library.

During a funding crisis in 1974 it was decided to move a part of the collection to Tel Aviv. In the course of the preparations for this move, a large part of the collections was microfilmed for conservation purposes. The plans to move the library were abandoned in 1980 after the transports had already begun, resulting in a separate Wiener Library within the library of the University of Tel Aviv that consisted of the majority of the book stock, while The Wiener Library in London retained the microfilmed copies.

Today The Wiener Library is a research library dedicated to studying the Holocaust, comparative genocide studies, Nazi Germany, and German Jewry, and documenting Antisemitism and Neonazism. It is a registered charity under English law.[6]

The Fraenkel Prize

The Library also hosts The Fraenkel Prize. This prize, sponsored by Ernst Fraenkel (former Chairman and one of the Library’s Presidents) is for “outstanding work of twentieth-century history in one of The Wiener Library’s fields of interest”. These areas of interest include the following: “The History of Europe, Jewish History, The Two World Wars, Antisemitism, Comparative Genocide, Political Extremism”.[7]

See also


Further reading

External links

Coordinates51°31′21″N 0°08′42″W

Ukmerge, Lithuania



Jewish buildings and streets

Jewish Hospital

Other buildings

Memorial in cemetery

Holocaust Memorial in Forest


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Skyline of Ukmergė
Coat of arms of Ukmergė
Coat of arms

Ukmergė (About this sound pronunciation ), is a city in Vilnius CountyLithuania, located 78 km (48 mi) northwest of Vilnius, with a population of about 26,000 (2011).


Early history

Ukmergė was first mentioned as a settlement in 1333.[1] It was essentially a wooden fortress that stood on a hill, near the confluence of the Vilkmergė River and the Šventoji River. Ukmergė was attacked by the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order in 1333, 1365, 1378, 1386, and even in 1391, already after the Christianization of Lithuania in 1387. During the last attack, Ukmergė was burned to the ground and had to be completely rebuilt.

The region began to adopt Christianity, along with the rest of Lithuania, in 1386. In the following year, 1387, its first Catholic church, St. Peter and St. Paul, was built. It was one of the first Roman Catholicchurches established in Lithuania. The town was granted municipal rights at some time after the Battle of Pabaiskas in 1435,[2] and written sources dating from 1486 referred to it as a city. KingSigismund the Old confirmed these rights. During the times of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the city had been the center of powiat in the Vilnius Voivodeship.

In 1655, the Swedish and Russian armies plundered the city. Because of these incessant wars, the growth of Ukmergė suffered many setbacks. In the years 1711–1712, the bubonic plague swept through the town and wreaked havoc upon its population. In 1792, by the initiative of the city’s representative in the Great SejmJózef Dominik Kossakowski, King Stanisław August Poniatowski renewed the town’s municipal rights and gave it its current coat of arms.

18th and 19th centuries

In 1795, the town along, with most of Lithuania, was annexed by Russia, becoming a part of the Vilna Governorate. In 1812, the Battle of Deltuva, between the Russian and French armies, occurred not far from Ukmergė; Napoleon‘s army raided the town during the French invasion of Russia. During the November Uprising in 1831, the city remained in the hands of rebel elements for several months. In 1843, the town became a part of the newly established Kovno Governorate. In 1863, the city participated in the January Uprising against Russia. In 1876 a match factory was established in Ukmergė. In 1877 a fire again ravaged the town. The future president of Lithuania, Antanas Smetona, was born in Užulėnis near Ukmergė, and was educated in the local school. In 1882 a printing-house was opened. In 1899 thirteen people were punished for distributing books written in theLithuanian language, which was prohibited at that time.

20th century

In 1918, after Lithuania declared its independence, the city’s name was changed from Vilkmergė to Ukmergė. In 1919 Bolshevikforces occupied the city during the Lithuanian–Soviet War, but it was soon liberated by the Lithuanian army led by Jonas Variakojis. Over five hundred Bolshevik prisoners were taken during the Battle of Ukmergė. An iron foundry was established in the same year. In 1920, the Lithuanian army stopped Polish incursions into the rest of the country, after a series of battles that were waged to establish borders between the two newly re-established countries. An electric plant, a printing house and 120 other small businesses were opened. The city had five newspapers until 1939. In 1930 a monument named Lituania Restituta was erected to commemorate the first decade of restored Lithuanian independence. A Polish high school also operated in Ukmergė during the interbellum.

Ukmergė old town

In 1940, after the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, deportations of people from the town began. When the Germans attacked the Soviet Union and its occupied territories, on June 22, 1941, the retreating Soviets gave instructions to their operatives to kill some one hundred and twenty prisoners; however, most of them escaped; only eight of them were tortured to death. After the German invasion, the Nazis rounded up and killed about 10,000 members of the town’s Jewish population. During World War II, the city center suffered from extensive bomb damage. For years after the return of the Soviets, the city’s people organized and participated in resistance movements. The deportation of the city’s population to Siberia continued. In 1950 the monument to Lithuania’s Independence was destroyed. The city reconstructed it in 1990, even before the restoration of Lithuania’s independence was declared. Around 1964, two coupled Soviet R-12 Dvina (SS-4) nuclear missile bases were built in the woods near Ukmergė underNikita Khrushchev. Each had four surface launch pads, semi-underground hangars to store the missiles and several accessory buildings. The bases were mentioned in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. They both are in ruined state at present and freely accessible to public.

Etymology of the name

Other historically known city names with the years and sources were summarized by Jonas Deksnys: 1225 – Wilkemerge, Wilkamergen, 1333 – Vilkenberge, 1384, 1391 – Wilkinberg, 1455 – Vilkomir, 1611 – Wilkomir, 1613 – Wilkomirz, 1766 – Wilkomiria, 1986 – Wilkomirz, 1806 – Wilkomir, 1900 – Ukmerge, 1908 – Aukmergė, 1911,1917 – Ūkmergė, 1918 – Wilkomierz, 1919 – Vilkmergė, 1920 – Ukmergė, 1923 – Vilkmergė.[3]

The city has taken its original name Vilkmergė from the Vilkmergėlė River which was initially called Vilkmergė and assumed a diminutive form after the growth of the settlement.[4] It is commonly thought that the name may be translated as “she-wolf”, from the combination ofVilkas (wolf) and Merga (maiden). More likely the second root of the dual-stemmed name is verbal merg-/merk- meaning “to submerge” or “to dip”. According to local legend, Vilkmergė was a girl raised by wolves, who bridged the divide between animals and humans, in the same way as Rudyard Kipling‘s Mowgli. The folk etymology of “Ukmergė”, by contrast, is “farm girl” (Lith. ūkis = farm). The original name has been adopted by the local soccer team, “Vilkmergė Ukmergė” as well as popular HBHVilkmergė beer.


  • Bruno Abakanowicz, Polish/Lithuanian mathematician, born in Ukmergė
  • Alexander Braudo, author and publisher, born in Ukmergė
  • Chaim Freinkel, philanthropist, lived, worked, and established schools in Ukmergė
  • Antanas Smetona, president of Lithuania from 1919–1920 and from 1926–1940, was born nearby and educated in the local school system
  • Leib Gurwicz, Rabbi and Talmudic scholar, studied at the yeshivah school here
  • Meyer Gantzer, made pots and pans for the city
  • Yisroel Aharon Fracht, immigrated to the US in 1906 and to Canada in 1919 where he was one of the original founders of the Montreal North-End Vilkomir Society.
  • Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, Rabbi and Lithuanian parliamentarian, built yeshivas, a school and an orphanage in Ukmergė
  • Ben Shahn, American artist, muralist, social activist, photographer and teacher, lived in Ukmerge in the early 1900s
  • Zigmas Zinkevičius, Lithuanian linguist, acquired his early schooling in Ukmergė.
  • Vida Vencienė, Olympic cross country skiing gold medalist.
  • Woolf Wess, also known as William Wess or William West, a Jewish anarchisttrade union organizer, and editor of the London-based Yiddish-language anarchist newspaper, Arbeyter Fraynd (Worker’s Friend), born in Ukmergė in 1861 and emigrated toLondonEngland, dying there in 1946

Ruoščiai, the Centre of Lithuania & Krakes


The Centre of Lithuania

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stones marking the geographical center of Lithuania

Ruoščiai is a small village in Kėdainiai district municipalityLithuania. Located about 3 km from Dotnuva, it had 35 residents according to the 2001 census.[1]The settlement is known as the geographical center of Lithuania, which was calculated in 1995.[2]


Krakes Jewish Cemetery


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Center of the town
Center of the town
Coat of arms of Krakės
Coat of arms

Holocaust Memorial

Jelgava, Latvia

A Map of Latvia

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The Road to Jelgava


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jelgava aerial view
Jelgava aerial view
Flag of Jelgava
Coat of arms of Jelgava
Coat of arms

The Rastrelli Palace at the heart of Jelgava, seen from the Lielupe.

Jelgava (pronounced [jælɡava] ( )GermanMitau) is a city in central Latvia about 41 kilometres (25 miles) southwest of Riga with about 63,000 inhabitants. It is the largest town in the region of Zemgale (Semigalia). Jelgava was the capital of the united Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1578-1795) and the administrative center of the Courland Governorate(1795-1918).

Jelgava is situated on a fertile plain rising only 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) above mean sea level on the right bank of the riverLielupe. At high water the plain and sometimes the town as well can be flooded. It is a railway center and is also host toJelgava Air Base. Its importance as a railway centre can be seen by the fact that it lies at the junction of over 6 railway lines connecting Riga to Lithuania, eastern and western Latvia, and Lithuania to the Baltic sea.


The Holocaust Memorial

Jelgava massacres

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jelgava massacres
Location JelgavaLatvia and vicinity
Date Second part of July or early August, 1941
Incident type Mass shootings
Perpetrators Rudolf BatzAlfred BecuMārtiņš Vagulāns
Participants Wilhelm Adelt
Organizations EinsatzgruppenLatvian Auxiliary PoliceVagulāns commando
Victims Separate estimates of 1,500, 1,550, and 2,000 victims have been made.
Survivors 21 survivors were transported toIlūkste in the fall of 1941
Memorials In the Jewish cemetery and in the forest where the killing occurred.

The Jelgava massacres were the killing of the Jewish population of the Jews of the city of JelgavaLatvia that occurred in the second half of July or in early August 1941. The murders were carried out by German police units under the command of Alfred Becu, with a significant contribution by Latvian auxiliary police organized by Mārtiņš Vagulāns.


Jelgava is a town in Latvia, about 50 kilometers south of Riga. Jelgava was once the capital of the Duchy of Kurland[1] until that semi-independent state was taken over by the Russian empire in 1795. It is the principal city in the Latvian region of Zemgale, one of the four major regions of the country. The German name for Jelgava is Mitau.[2]Jews began settling in Jelgava in the early 16th century, which was the start of the Jewish presence in Latvia.[3] Many leaders of the Zionist movement came from Jelgava.[1]

German occupation

On Sunday, June 22, 1941, the German armed forces attacked the USSR, including the Baltic states, which had recently been forcibly incorporated in the Soviet Union. The Germans advanced quickly through Lithuania, entered Latvia, and captured Jelgava on June 29, 1941.[4]

The Holocaust begins in Jelgava

The Nazi occupation regime planned to kill as many “undesirable” people as possible in the immediate wake of the invasion. “Undesirables” in the Baltic States included Communists, Gypsies,[5] the mentally ill, and especially Jews. The murders were to be carried out by four units called “special assignment groups” which have become known by their German name as Einsatzgruppen.[6] For the Baltic States the responsible unit was Einsatzgruppe A, initially under the command of Franz Walter Stahlecker. The Nazi organization which furnished most of the personnel for the Einsatzgruppen was the Security Service, (GermanSicherheitsdienst), generally referred to by its initials SD. Jelgava is located on the road between Šiauliai, Lithuania and the major city and capital of Latvia, Riga. When Einsatzgruppe A entered Latvia, its commander, Stahlecker, stopped at Jelgava shortly after its capture to organize a unit of Latvians to carry out the functions of the German SD and the Einsatzgruppen.[7][8]

Part of the Nazi plan for the Jews in Latvia was to use propaganda, including the newspapers, to associate the Jews with the Communists and the NKVD, who had become hated in Latvia because of the Soviet occupation. In Jelgava on June 30, 1941, Nacionālā Zamgale (National Zemgale) became the first newspaper issued in Latvia under Nazi control on June 30, 1941.[7] Stahlecker, possibly by pre-arrangement,[4] selected the Latvian agronomist and journalist Vagulāns to be both the editor ofNacionālā Zamgale and also the commander of the Latvian SD unit in Jelgava, which later became known as the Vagulāns commando.[7] Carrying out the German wishes, the lead article in the first issue Nacionālā Zamgale praised Adolf Hitler and the German armed forces, and blamed the crimes during the Soviet occupation of Latvia on Jewish collaboration with the Communists. Similar anti-Semitic articles appeared in every issue of Nacionālā Zamgale. For example the headline in the July 3, 1941 issue was “Free of Jewish Bolshevik Looters and Murderers.”[7] The manner and style of the condemnations were different from prewar Latvian anticommunism, and indicated the direct control of the Germans over the editorial process.[7]

Establishment of the German SD

As the front lines moved eastward, the Einsatzgruppen, who followed close behind the fighting, moved through Latvia in a few weeks. The German authorities then established “resident” SD offices in the major cities of Latvia, including Jelgava.[4] The other offices were in DaugavpilsLiepāja, and Valmiera, with the main office in Riga. Under the Jelgava office, suboffices were set up in smaller towns in the vicinity, including IlūksteJēkabpilsBauska, and Tukums.[4] A Nazi official named Egon Haensell was in charge of the Jelgava SD office.[4]

The Vagulāns Kommando

Vagulāns hed been a member of Pērkonkrusts (“swastika”), a Latvian fascist organization in the 1930s. He claimed he had simply met Stahlecker on the highway to Riga, but Professor Ezergailis, questioned this, and stated that the possibility could not be ruled out that Vagulāns had been a pre-war SD agent in Latvia.[9] The Germans remained in the background in Jelgava, and it was Vagulāns who organized the killings.[9]

Burning of the synagogue

Main synagogue in Jelgava (older photograph from a post card)

Two or three days after the Germans captured the city the synagogue was burned, apparently by the Germans using hand grenades and gasoline.[10] As the fire burned, the building was ringed by guards wearing German helmets.[10] It was said in the city the next day that the rabbi refused to leave the synagogue, and perhaps other Jews were burned in the synagogue,[1] or brutalized outside.[10] Some Latvian onlookers of the burning expressed sympathy for the Jews, whom were forced to march by and witness the burning prayer house.[10]

Individual murders and perpetrators

Max Kaufmann, a survivor of the Riga ghetto states that there were a number of individual murders in Jelgava. According to Kaufmann, these included Dr. Lewitas, who was shot dead in the cemetery, the educator Bowshower who with his child was executed in the marketplace, and the Disencik and Hirschmann families who were forced to dig their own graves. Kaufmann states that according to his sources, participants in these murders, as well as the burning of the synagogue, included Hollstein and Colonel Schulz, both Baltic Germans who had returned to Latvia from Germany.[1] Local Latvian perpetrators, also according to Kaufmann, included Weiland (Veilands), Petersilins (Pētersiliņš), Kaulins (Kauliņš), Leimand (Leimanis), and Dr. Sprogis (Sproģis).[1]

Identification and isolation of the Jews

From his office at 42 Lielā street (Lielā iela) in Jelgava,[11] Vagulāns used his new newspaper, Nationālā Zamgale, to promulgate his decrees. On June 30, among other things, he ordered all veterans of the police and the Aizsargi (Home Guard) up to the time of the Soviet occupation to report to the Security Police office. He also forbade Jews to own, manage, or work in any food store.[11] On July 1, 1941, he ordered all building managers to register the building occupants with the security police. This was the beginning of the identification of the Jews for murder, although it is unlikely that this was realized at the time by the managers.[11] Older Jews at that time in Jelgava could be readily identified by their conservative dress, but the younger Jews were indistinguishable from the Latvians and they spoke the Latvian language without an accent.[10]

Vagulāns decreed that it as of July 3, 1941, it would be illegal to sell anything to Jews, that the employment of all Jews was terminated, and those who lived in designated areas of the city were to vacate their residences by 18:00 hours on July 5, 1941. Where they went is not clear, some sources say they were housed in warehouses and old factories near to the fish market, and others say they were housed near the railroad station. It appears that based by the small sized of the authorized guard by July 14 the Jews were housed in a single large building.[12] Their homes were looted by auxiliary police, or at least by people wearing armbands in the Latvia colors (red-white-red) who were pretending to be part of the auxiliary police.[13] Jews were not to enter theaters, cinemas, parks, museums and all other establishments or events. They were not to listen to the radio and all radios were to be surrendered to SD headquarters.[11] At the same time these decrees were being published, the same newspaper, Nationālā Zamgale, was used by Vagulāns to publish anti-Semitic material which, in the opinion of Professor Ezergailis, was as bad or worse than the notorious German hate newspaper Der Stürmer.[11]


The exact date of the murder of the Jelgava Jews cannot be precisely determined. It occurred either on the weekend of July 25–26 or August 2–3, with evidence supporting both dates.[14] Supporting an August 2–3 date for the murders is a directive by Vagulāns published on August 1, 1941:

I order all Jews living in Jelgava city and district to leave the limits of the city and the district by August 2, 12:00 noon. Those guilty of non-compliance shall be punished in accordance with the laws of war.[13]

Aspects of the Jelgava massacre remain obscure. Whether there was one continuous shooting over the course of a weekend, or several smaller shootings remains unknown. The precise number of victims is not known; estimates of 1,500, 1550, and 2,000 have been proposed.[15] The German SD man who conducted the shootings was Alfred Becu, who at his trial in 1968 in West Germany, said he was following the orders of the Latvian SD man Vagulāns. Becu also acknowledged that he’d been ordered by Rudolf Batz to take an Einsatzkommando detachment into Jelgava to kill the Jews. Becu testified that he was only in Jelgava a few days, left and had been in a state of shock ever since.[15] The killing site seems to have been at a former shooting range of the Latvian army located about 2 kilometers south of Jelgava, near the highway that ran to Šiauliai in Lithuania.[10][16]

According to a witness, Wilhelm Adelt, who commanded the perimeter guard at a three-day shooting, men, women and children, with the men predominating, were brought out to the shooting range, where on each day they were forced to dig a pit about 20 to 50 meters long and 2 meters deep.[16] They were compelled to remove their outer clothing and surrender any valuables they were carrying.[16] The victims were led to the pits by Latvian auxiliary policemen carrying rifles and wearing armbands.[16] 8 to 10 Jews were killed at a time. The shooters were SD men, who used bolt-action rifles. Some shooters stood, and others knelt. The precise number of killers is not known. After being shot, some victims fell in the pit, others collapsed along the edge. Becu, who also gave the command to shoot, walked among the victims and shot again the still-living ones with his pistol.[16] More victims were then brought up, shot, and pushed into the grave. When the pit was full, Latvians covered it up with sand.[16] On each day of the killing, the victims would first be forced to dig a new pit and the process would continue.[16] According to Adelt, Becu said “‘the Jews had to be killed because they did not fit into the Nazi regime, and that Jews in general would be rooted out.'”[16] The method described by Adelt was similar to the many killings committed by Einsatzkommando 2 in the Biķernieki forest.[17] Adelt testified that about 500 to 600 people were killed in the three-day massacre.[16] Professor Ezergailis states that if this was the single major massacre, the total must have been three times as high.[17]

Survivor accounts

There appear to be no survivor accounts of the Jelgava mass shootings. One incident that might be described as a survivor account is provided by Frida Michelson, a women’s clothing designer from Riga who was working in a forced labor detail in the field near Jelgava:

Once a different guard, armed with an automatic gun, rode by on a bicycle. When he saw us — Jewish women — working, he became hysterical. “Who dared bring those damn Jewesses here? They’ll contaminate everything they touch!” He pointed the automatic weapon in our direction. “Who is in charge here?” “I am,” our guard said, and ran to him waving a paper. “They are performing useful work here by order of the Riga Commandature.” They exchanged a few angry words and the stranger rode away. Later the farm woman told us that if our guard had not the paper declaring his responsibility for us, we would all have been shot by the stranger, right there in the field.[18]

Results and aftermath

Virtually the entire Jewish community of Jelgava was killed during the course of the massacres and the other persecutions.[19] Afterwards, the Nazis posted signs at the entrance to the town which said “Jelgava is cleansed of Jews” (judenrein).[1][20] Police Battalion 105 was a Nazi organization assigned to the Baltic states with the task of killing Jews, Gypsies, and others.[21] On July 20, 1941, a salesman from Bremen, who had enlisted in Police Battalion 105, wrote to his wife from Jelgava, complaining that there were no more Jews left in the city to act as domestic servants, and added, possibly sarcastically, “They must be working, I suppose, in the countryside.”[21]

In the fall of 1941 Latvia and the other Baltic States were incorporated with Belarus (then known as White Russia or White Ruthenia) within a German occupation province called Ostland.[2] Over Ostland the Nazis installed Hinrich Lohse with the title of National (or Reich) Commissioner (Reichskommissar). Under Lohse, Latvia itself was governed by Otto-Heinrich Drechsler with the title of Commissioner General (Generalkommissar). Latvia was broken up into six areas, of which Jelgava was one, with each area under the control of a Territorial Commissioner (Gebietskommissar). For the Jelgava territory, Freiherr Walter von Medem was appointed Gebietskommissar.[2]Browning and Matthaüs report in their book that

In a report written in mid-August, the Gebietskommissar (county commissioner) in Mitau (Jelgava) defined it as one of his main tasks to establish discipline among the local policemen, who, as a result of their involvement in the liquidation of the Jewish population, had lost all moral restraints. He took it as a sign of success that his “to bring the surviving 21 Jews from Mitau alive to Illuxt” had been carried out despite the considerable distance between the two cities.[22]

In 1942, the Nazis removed and sold all the tombstones in the Jewish cemetery and leveled the site.[23] Jelgava itself was mostly destroyed in later fighting in World War II.[1]


Memorials have been constructed in the Jewish cemetery and in the forest near the city where the Jews were killed.[24]

From Liepaja to Riga


At the beach


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Art Nouveau architecture in Liepāja.
Art Nouveau architecture in Liepāja.
Flag of Liepāja
Coat of arms of Liepāja
Coat of arms
Location of Liepāja within Latvia
Location of Liepāja within Latvia

Liepāja (pronounced [liepaːja] ( )); GermanLibauPolishLipawa), is a city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region and the third largest city in the country after Riga andDaugavpils. An important ice-free port, as of 1 July 2011, Liepāja had a population of 75,000.

Liepāja is known throughout Latvia as “The city where the wind is born”, likely because of the constant sea breeze. A song of the same name (Latvian“Pilsētā, kurā piedzimst vējš”) was composed by Imants Kalniņš and has become the anthem of the city. Its reputation of Liepāja as the windiest city in Latvia was strengthened with the construction nearby of the largest wind power plant in the nation (33 Enercon wind turbines).

The Coat of Arms of Liepāja was adopted four days after the jurisdiction gained city rights on 18 March 1625.[1] These are described as: “on a silver background, the lion of Courland with a divided tail, who leans upon a linden (LatvianLiepa) tree with its forelegs.” The flag of Liepāja has the coat of arms in the center, with red in the top half and green in the bottom.[1]


 Jewish Community Centre & Museum


Other Jewish buildings


Holocaust Memorials & Cemetery

The Market

Liepāja massacres

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Liepāja massacres

Members of the 21st Latvian Police Battalionassemble a group of Jewish women for murder on a beach near Liepāja, December 15, 1941.
Also known as Libau, Šķēde, Shkeede, Skeden
Location LiepājaLatvia and vicinity, including PriekuleAizpute, andGrobiņa
Incident type Imprisonment, mass shootings, forced labor
Perpetrators Viktors ArājsPēteris GaliņšFritz DietrichErhard GrauelWolfgang KüglerHans KawelmacherKarl-Emil Strott
Organizations KriegsmarineEinsatzgruppen,OrdnungspolizeiWehrmachtArajs KommandoLatvian Auxiliary Police
Victims About 5,000 Jews. Lesser numbers of Gypsies, communists and the mentally ill were also killed.
Memorials At Šķēde, Liepāja Central Cemetery

The Liepāja massacres were a series of mass executions, many in public or semi-public, in and near the city of Liepāja (German: Libau), on the west coast of Latvia in 1941 after the Nazi occupation of Latvia. The main perpetrators were detachments of the Einsatzgruppen, the Sicherheitsdienst or SD, the Ordnungspolizei, or ORPO, and Latvian auxiliary police and militia forcesWehrmacht and German naval forces participated in the shootings.[1] In addition to Jews, the Nazis and their Latvian collaborators also killed Gypsies, communists, the mentally ill[1] and so-called “hostages”.[2] In contrast to most other Holocaust murders in Latvia, the killings at Liepāja were done in open places.[3] About 5,000 of the 5,700 Jews trapped in Liepāja were shot, most of them in 1941.[2] The killings occurred at a variety of places within and outside of the city, including Rainis Park in the city center, and areas near the harbor, the Olympic Stadium, and the lighthouse. The largest massacre, of 2731 Jews, and 23 communists, happened from December 15 to 17, 1941, in the dunes near Šķēde, on an old Latvian army training ground.[2] More is known about the killing of the Jews of Liepāja than in any other city in Latvia except for Riga.[4]

  Skede Memorial


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
St. John Lutheran church in Aizpute built in 1253
St. John Lutheran church in Aizpute built in 1253
Coat of arms of Aizpute
Coat of arms

Aizpute (GermanHasenpoth) is a town in western Latvia‘s Aizpute municipality in the valley of Tebra River, 50 km (31 mi) northeast of Liepāja.


Territory of modern Aizpute was inhabited by ancient Curonians since 9th century. St. John Lutheran church has been built on the curonian hillfort. In 13th century during Livonian crusade territory of Aizpute was conquered by German crusaders. Already in 1248 master of the Livonian Order Dietrich von Grüningen ordered building of stone castle in Aizpute. Castle and whole settlement became known as Hasenpoth. After partition of Courland in 1253 Aizpute became part of Bishopric of Courland. In 1260 Aizpute church is built. Bishop of Courland Otto granted Magdeburg rights to Aizpute in 1378.

In the second half of the 16th century Aizpute experienced rapid development because Tebra river was used as main trade route for merchants of Aizpute who shipped their cargo down to the sea. After the Polish-Swedish war all trade and shipping infrastructure was destroyed and Aizpute started to experience decline. During 1611-1795 it was under the power of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as a capital of the semi-autonomous Powiat Piltynski (District ofPiltene).

In 1795 Aizpute and whole of Courland was incorporated into Russian Empire and became part of Courland Governorate. During Russian revolution of 1905 Aizpute was one of the places where local revolutionists showed armed resistance to Cossack punitive units. It led to the so-called Aizpute War.

During Republic of Latvia Aizpute became centre of a district but in the Soviet period it lost its position and became part of Liepāja district. Since 2009 Aizpute is a centre of Aizpute municipality.

Its current name is the Lettization of the German one and is officially in use since 1917.




Artists in Residencies

Main activities involve the exchange between culture, science and education, including the organisation of residencies, workshops, seminars, lectures, presentations and other activities.

I met the delightful Signe Pucena who runs Serde with her husband, Ugis. Their daughter is Trine.

 A Notebook of Traditions

Narratives about the Jews of Aizpute

The cover and some images – you can order from Serde

The Jewish Cemetery

On the road to Riga

Riga by Night