“TheCeļotājs” –
 “Beginning of the 1941 Terror Against the Jews in Riga Latvia”

“Beginning of the 1941 Terror Against the Jews in Riga Latvia”

to Continue

The Continuance of “Beginning of the 1941 Terror Against the Jews in Riga Latvia” will continue with a visit to Liepāja Latvia where in June 1941 with mass murders in “Rainis Park”, “Liepāja Lighthouse” and “Šķēde Dunes”.
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 forces. Wehrmacht and German naval forces participated in the shootings. In addition to Jews, the Nazis and their Latvian collaborators also killed Gypsies, communists, the mentally ill and so-called "hostages". In contrast to most other Holocaust murders in Latvia, the killings at Liepāja were done in open places. About 5,000 of the 5,700 Jews trapped in Liepāja were shot, most of them in 1941. 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 the 15 of December to the 17 of December 1941, in the dunes near Šķēde, on an old Latvian army training ground. “More is known about the killing of the Jews of Liepāja than in any other city in Latvia except for Riga”.
Liepāja was targeted by the Nazis as a town of special importance. It was a naval base and also an important international port. As such, the population was suspected of being more sympathetic to Communism. The German army planned to capture the city on the first day of the war, Sunday, 22 June 1941. The attack on Liepāja was led by the German 291st Infantry Division. Strong resistance by the Red Army and other Soviet forces prevented the Germans from entering the city until June 29, 1941, and resistance, including sniper fire, continued within the city for several days afterwards. The city was heavily damaged in the fighting and fires burned for days.
In Latvia the Holocaust started on the night of 23 June to 24 June 1941, when in Grobiņa, a town near Liepāja, Einsatzkommando 1a members killed six local Jews, including the town chemist, in the church graveyard. Once Liepāja itself fell on 29 June 1941, "the hunt for the Jews began with the first hours of occupation." Professor Ezergailis estimates that about 5,700 Jews of Liepāja and the surrounding district fell into German hands.
On 29 June and 30 June 1941, there were random shootings of Jews in Liepāja by German soldiers. About 99 Jews plus or minus 30 were killed in these shootings. Shootings began almost immediately. For example, at 5:00 p.m. on 29 June, arriving German soldiers seized 7 Jews and 22 Latvians and shot them at a bomb crater in the middle of Ulicha Street. At 21:00hrs the same day German soldiers came to Hika street, where the assembled all the residents and asked if any were refugees from Germany. One man, Walter (or Victor) Hahn, a conductor who had fled Vienna in 1938, stepped forward and was immediately shot. (Another source says that Hahn was killed by a mob of Latvians fomented by Nazis). The next day, June 30, soldiers went to the City Hospital, arrested several Jewish physicians and patients, disregarded the protests of the Latvians on the hospital staff, and shot them. Among the victims was 10 year old Masha Blumenau.
On 29 June 1941, a detachment of Einsatzkommando 1a, “EK 1a” under SS-Obersturmbannführer Reichert entered Liepāja. One of the first people EK 1a killed, on 30 June, was the musician Aron Fränkel, who, not knowing that Einsatzkommando had set up headquarters at his place of employment, the Hotel St. Petersburg, showed up for work. He was identified as a Jew and immediately shot.
This story will continue in September 2011, with a personal visit to these areas.
      May 2011    
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Continued on to Epilog