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

The burning of the Jewish Synagogues located through out Riga


On 4 July 1941 with the burning of the Jewish Synagogues located through out Riga. Nazi sympathizers and collaborators began their program of burning all the synagogues located in Riga. The two most listed in Riga history during this horror is the Great Choral Synagogue on Gogola iela and Peitavas iela “Peitav Shul” Jewish Synagogue. 

The former “The Great Choral Synagogue located on Gogola iela” before it was burned to the ground with some 500 Jews locked inside and burned to death on 4 July 1941
Construction of the Great Choral Synagogue Riga's largest synagogue began in 1868 and was completed in 1871.
In the cellar the only remains of this synagogue a monument was erected in the 1980’s from the ruins of the synagogue, also called the Gogola Street Synagogue.

Authors Note: “There are some historians, writers and people say that it couldn’t have happened this way. But what I have read about these sympathizers and collaborator groups and the Gestapo “Secret State Police” Nazi SS and SD “Security Service” I have no doubt that it did happen in this way”. 
           “Peitavas iela “Peitav Shul” Jewish Synagogue”       
At the end of the 19th century, a religious community formed that united the Jews living in the Old Town. A plot of land was bought for the purpose of building the synagogue, and in March of 1903 the building permit was granted.
The synagogue was designed and built by two people an outstanding architect and art historian Wilhelm Neumann and architect Hermann Seuberlich. The original project was altered several times, but by the beginning of 1904 the construction was started and in 1905 the construction of the synagogue was finished.
After Riga was occupied by the Nazis on 1 July 1941, all the synagogues in the city were burnt down on 4 July 1941. The Peitavas iela “Peitav Shul” Jewish Synagogue was the only synagogue in Riga to escape the common fate of the other synagogues because its proximity to other buildings in Old Town. For it was located next to other buildings and there was a fear that burning it down would set the other buildings on fire. But it didn’t escape being ransacked and turned into a warehouse.

After the war it was learned that the eastern wall of the synagogue, where the bookcase with Torah scrolls “Aron Kodesh” was located, had been concealed. This deed, which saved the Torah scrolls from destruction, is attributed to Gustavs Shaurums, a priest from the nearby Reformist Church.
It was one of about forty synagogues that functioned in Riga before the Nazi occupation when it was desecrated and confiscated by the Germans. After the war the 40,000 strong pre-war Jewish communities was reduced to only 150.
Following the war, services at the Peitavas iela “Peitav Shul” Jewish Synagogue was renewed. During Soviet times it was one of the few synagogues functioning in the USSR as well as one of only four that maintained a choir. Despite the unofficial prohibition of Jewish religious practices and constant surveillance by the national security bodies, the synagogue remained the centre of Jewish life in the city.
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Continued on to Biķernieku Forest