On the east coast of Latvia lies the town of Liepaja, which during the German occupation between 1941 and 1944 was called Libau. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, about 7,400 Jews lived in Liepaja and the city was occupied by the germans on June 29. At the beginning of July, the german occupying power introduced anti-jewish regulations that meant that the city’s jews would wear a yellow star as an identification mark and that several jews were forced into forced labor. That same month, about 1,000 Jews were murdered at two separate actions at a place called Skede on the Baltic coast north of the city. Jews were murdered by Einsatzgruppe A units and Latvian nationalists who voluntarily signed up to assist and participate in the murders. In November 1941, the occupation forces reported that there were barely 4,000 Jews left in the city.

On December 14, 1941, a large assembly operation was carried out in which the Jews who did not have special work permits were brought to Skede. Between 15 and 17 December, about 3,000 Jews were murdered at the site of excavated graves. Two more minor actions were carried out in February and April 1942. In addition to Jews, about 1,000 Soviet prisoners of war were also murdered on the site. In 1942, there were about 850 Jews in Libau. These were Jews who were considered important to the German war industry and they had to settle in a ghetto in the city. In 1943, the ghetto was dismantled and the remaining Jews were sent to the Kaiserwald concentration camp in Riga. When the Soviet Red Army liberated (reoccupied) Liepaja, there were barely 30 Jews left in the city.

Current status: Monument (2009).

Location: 56°35'58.8" N 21°01'17.6" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

A number of photographs of the executions were found in May 1945, dating from December 1941. The photographs are a unique documentation in the sense that it was officially photographed. The photographer follows a group of people from undressing, running to a mass grave, standing at the mass grave and when they lie down in the mass grave after being murdered. There are also film sequences from the executions. It is difficult to determine why the Nazis documented these murders because it was strictly forbidden to make any photo or film documentation of the executions. These images are not the only ones that exist of the Einsatzgruppen’s actions but they seem to be the only ones sanctioned by the Nazis themselves. Other images have, despite bans, been taken openly or in secret by curious onlookers.

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