Riga Ghetto


In October 1941, the nazis set up a ghetto in the district of Maskavas where already about 20 percent of Riga’s Jewish population lived. The Jewish inhabitants of Riga had until the German occupation been integrated into the rest of the city and had not lived for themselves in different parts of the city. The non-Jewish residents who lived in what became the ghetto were forced to move out and their homes were taken over by the Jews. The ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire fences and barred from the rest of the city. In 1941, the nazis began deporting German jews to Riga. On November 19, 1941, the working Jews of the Riga ghetto were separated from those who for various reasons did not work. About 25,000 were deemed incapacitated and murdered in two major murders in Rumbula and Bikernieki. The reason for the executions was to make room for German jews who were to be deported to Riga. In december 1941, the ghetto was divided into two separate ghettos, a smaller part for the latvian jews that were not murdered and a larger part for the newly arrived german jews. The ghettos were separated through Ludzas Street. German Jews were also murdered in Bikernieki and Rumbula. About 30,000 Jews were in the ghetto and most of them were forced to work in German-controlled industries. The ghetto was eventually wound up in December 1943 when the remaining Jews were deported to the Kaiserwald concentration camp or some satellite camp to the Kaiserwald.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2013).

Address: Maskavas iela 14A, Riga, LV-1050.

Get there: Walk from central Riga.

My comment:

There are surprisingly many houses left from the time of the ghetto, which is not common at other ghettos. Some of the houses are empty while others are populated. In most cases, the Nazis destroyed the ghettos themselves after they were dismantled. But some ghettos or parts of the ghettos were left untouched and destroyed only in connection with battles when the Soviet Red Army advanced westward. The ghettos or parts of the ghettos that still existed at the end of the war have been demolished over the years and left room for new buildings. Therefore, the ghetto in Riga (also Kaunas) is a unique historical heritage that actually has the same value as the concentration camps. For a long time there was no monument dedicated to the Ghetto of Riga, but in the autumn of 2010 a museum was opened in the ghetto, where historical buildings have been integrated into a part of the museum. Let us hope that it will not be a tourist attraction as the ghettos in Krakow and Warsaw have become. The museum was still not fully completed in the summer of 2013.

Follow up in books: Arad, Yitzhak: Holocaust in the Soviet union (2009).