Latvian Jews and the Holocaust

832 Words2 Pages

The Holocaust seemed as if it was one mans (Adolf Hitler) determination to exterminate all Jews in Europe, but in fact this is not completely true. The Holocaust was the determination of many men and woman of different backgrounds and languages. One of which is the people of Latvia. During WWI, the was was no less disruptive to the Jews than to anyone else. They were and used for both Capitalist exploitation and Communist conspiracy. During WWII they were beaten, killed, and/or imprisoned mercilessly in camps throughout Europe, not excluding the two camps in Riga, Latvia.
The Latvian Jews had a long history. In 1897 the census for Latvia, just before WWI, reported a combined number of about 200,000 Jews. At this point, Riga held about 33,000 Jews. Since Kurland became a duchy of Poland in the sixteenth century, Jews of Luthuanian Poland moved north. There, even though, routinely reguarded as outsiders, having to pay taxes and fees and fines, Jews prospered and expanded themselves in number. They engaged in commerce of every variety including leasing, brokering, and peddling. Jew were goldsmiths, brandy distillers, artisans, tradesmen, and even sometimes hired as tax collectors. Jews were the ceter of economic life. They controlled exports of cereal, flax, eggs, and timber. Tanneries, sawmills, and banks were often owned by Jews, even clothing factories and stores were owned and operated by mostly Jews. Most well known doctors and lawyers and entertainers were Jewish, but of the 5,921 civil servants, only 21 were Jews. Around fifty percent were involved in commerce and trade, as opposed to the one percent of Latvians. This was because most Latvians were engaged in agricultural production. Jew also lived mostly in the city and town areas and created strong Jewish communities. After WWI, when the census was done again in 1925, Latvia had only counted for 95,675 Jews, less than half of pre-WWI. Now the aggrivated nationalist mind was getting very dissoriented by what had happened after Soviet annexation, the people were seeing the Jew and Bolshevism as one and the same, and as before, estermination was the only answer.
The massacres of Jews began immediately after the Soviet counterattcks on June 29, 1941, before German police and officials even arrived. In Daugavpils, all Jews between the ages of sixteen to sixty were called to the down town square where they were assembled and incarcerated. At one of the main streets in Riga, Bear Slayer Street (the bear stands for the Russians) were the two Riga ghettos.

More about Latvian Jews and the Holocaust

Open Document