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Baltics' War Of Words Heats Up
St. Petersburg Times ^ | Vladimir Kovalev | Vladimir Kovalev

Posted on 02/08/2005 7:15:12 PM PST by Land_of_Lincoln_John

A confrontation between the Baltic States and Eastern European countries, and Russia on how the significance of the end of the World War II should be interpreted intensified last week with harsh statements made by Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

"On May 9, Russian people will place a Caspian roach on a newspaper, drink vodka, sing folk songs, and recall how they had heroically conquered the Baltic area," RIA-Novosti cited her saying Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry made a quick and stinging response.

"This public expression by the head of the Latvian state is deeply regretful," it said in a statement issued Thursday. "It is hard to comment on a disdainful, insulting approach to people that defended the world from fascism. It's a shame that the announcements of the president of Latvia in relation to World War II are more and more assuming the character of a domestic squabble. This has become a norm in recent times."

Another step outside the limits that Russian political elite accepts is a book "The History of Latvia in 20th Century," recently written by Antonijs Zunda, the Latvian president's history adviser. The book puts the role played by the Soviet Union in an extremely bad light, according to information web site.

Among other things the book describes a Nazi extermination camp in the Riga suburb of Salaspils as "a police prison and educational labor facility." referred to the camp where more than 100,000 people are believed to have been executed as the "Latvian Auschwitz."

Moscow denies Baltic claims that the Soviet Union invaded the Baltic States, then sovereign states, in 1940. After Nazi Germany occupied them in 1941 to 1945, many Balts fought against the Soviet Union because it had persecuted many citizens during its administration. Moscow portrays its ejection of the Nazis as a liberation, while the Baltic States say they were not free until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990.

Speaking at a Moscow news conference last Wednesday, Zunda said: "In May 1945, Latvia did not restore its sovereignty and was drawn into another totalitarian regime," Interfax reported.

He noted, however, "Our president knows and recognizes the Russian people's special role in the destruction of fascism." the Kremlin-controlled news agency RIA-Novosti quoted an anonymous expert saying Latvia "is wasting its time" by confronting Russia.

"[This might be] a trite move aimed at exacerbating the situation to the maximum to achieve the results most acceptable to it," he was quoted saying.

Asked if Vike-Freiberga's statements could lead to the cancellation of the invitation for the Latvian president to participate in 60th anniversary Victory Day celebrations in Moscow on May 9, the expert said this is not possible.

"It would be inappropriate," he said.

The heads of state of all three Baltic States have been invited to the celebrations, but Vike-Freiberga is the only president to accept the invitation to date. The three states became members of the European Union last May.

The expert said Russia had in December provided Latvia and Estonia with draft political declarations on relations with each other. However, they had made no response.

Without such declarations being signed, there is little chance of relations between Russia and the Baltic States being normalized, he said.

Valery Kalabugin, a political analyst based in Estonia, however, saw Russia as provoking continual confrontation the Baltic States. This is because the Kremlin has not forsaken the idea of one day regaining control over Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, he said.

"The Russian authorities are following a pattern of offering something sweet and then following it up by doing something unpleasant," Kalabugin said Friday in a telephone interview from Tallinn. "The Victory Day celebrations, are in themselves quite good, but Moscow's invitations [to the Baltic states] were followed by an offer to sign a declaration, which is clearly provocative."

The Baltic States expect Russia, as the legal successor of the Soviet Union, to acknowledge and apologize for the damage the Soviets did between 1940 and 1941 and 1945 and 1990 when they occupied the Baltic States; they expect Russia to do what Germany has done over crimes committed by Hitler's regime, Kalabugin said.

However, all that the draft declarations prepared by the Russian Foreign Ministry offer is to forget the past, dashing the hopes of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to get an apology. The draft declaration reads: "Expressing deep sympathy to the victims of social disorders and wars, Russia and [a space is left for the name of a Baltic State signing the document] believe it is most important that scientists of the both countries have conducted wide examinations of the past events of a common character, which demand an objective evaluation, pointing out by this that historic events should not be an obstacle to realizing the principles of ... democracy, or hinder the development of relations between the two countries."

Estonian President Arnold Ruutel seemed to share some sympathy for this type of approach at a ceremony marking the 85th anniversary of the Tartu border treaty between Estonia and the Soviet Union in 1920.

He had earlier said Estonia is ready to sign a border deal agreed with Russia in 1999, that would leave in Russia some districts annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 and added to the Pskov and Leningrad regions.

"[The draft border agreement of 1999] reflects the reality that was formed during 50 years of occupation of Estonia," Interfax quoted him saying. "The Tartu treaty fixed the eastern border of Estonia for decades until the secret deal between Stalin who ruled the Soviet Union and fascist Germany, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, that determined the fate of many independent nations and borders."

"We have to be aware of these facts, but at the same time [we should] look into future," he said.

Meanwhile, setting off another potential source of confrontation, European Parliament deputies from Eastern Europe demanded that a ban on Communist symbols, including the hammer and sickle, be introduced if the European Union outlaws Nazi symbols such as the swastika, Reuters reported Friday.

Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Lithuanian and Slovakian members of the parliament said such an approach to Communist symbols would be fully justified because of killings and torture suffered by people in the former Soviet Union or in countries under Moscow's domination. The lawmakers sent their request to Franco Frettini, the EU justice, freedom and security commissioner.

It would not be appropriate to include Soviet-era symbols in the ban because some are still used by legal Communist parties in the West, Reuters cited Frettini's press service as saying Friday.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: arnoldruutel; commiecriminals; communists; estonia; killacommieformommy; latvia; lithuania; neweurope; russia; ruutel; sovietunion; vairavikefreiberga; vikefreiberga; worldwarii; wwii
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia each have troops in Iraq. The coalition of the willing!
1 posted on 02/08/2005 7:15:14 PM PST by Land_of_Lincoln_John
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John
The Baltic States expect Russia, as the legal successor of the Soviet Union, to acknowledge and apologize for the damage the Soviets did between 1940 and 1941 and 1945 and 1990 when they occupied the Baltic States; they expect Russia to do what Germany has done over crimes committed by Hitler's regime, Kalabugin said.

And they are right to expect an apology.

2 posted on 02/08/2005 7:20:40 PM PST by NeoCaveman ( - "I can't help it, there I go again" and you should go there too)
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

Caspian roach on a newpaper?

Mrs VS

3 posted on 02/08/2005 8:00:55 PM PST by VeritatisSplendor
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

The First Fifty Years of the Latvian Social Democratic Party — Summary


The first Latvian Social Democratic organisations were founded in the 1890's. Although Latvia was a Russian province at that time, the Latvian Socialists had no contact with their Russian comrades. Rather, the Social Democratic Movement had an closer contact with the German Sociald Democratic Party. The famous Latvian poet Jånis Rainis (1865-1929) visited Germany in 1893 and brought socialistic literature back with him. Afterwards, study circles, consisting of students and workers devoted to the study of socialist literature, appeared. This movement is called "the New Current" in the history of Latvia. Already in 1897 most of these socialists (157) were arrested and banished. Some fled abroad, where they began to issue the first socialist periodical Auseklis (The Morning Star) in Boston, USA, which was later followed by another periodical Latviewu Strådnieks (The Latvian Worker) in London. These illegal periodicals were in all secrecy sent to Latvia. These two periodicals were succeeded in 1900 by the periodical Sociåldemokrats (Social Democrat) which first appeared in London and from 1903 to 1905 in Bern.

In 1899, the first great strikes took place in Riga, the capitol of Latvia. In 1900, the Riga Socialists founded an organization of their own. In 1901 and 1902, Social Democratic organisations were founded in Jelgava and Liepaja. Two years later all these organisations were united in the Latvian Social Democratic Party founded on June 20, 1904, during its congress in Riga. The Party consisted of 2,500 members, united in illegal circles and five district organisations. A newspaper Cäya (The Struggle) was published clandestinely. The Latvian party was independent of the Russian Party. In 1904 the Latvian Social Democratic Party became a member of the Socialist International.

A year later, the party led the great revolution of 1905. On January 26, 1905, the Central Committee of the party proclaimed a general strike across all of Latvia to protest the shootings at a workers' demonstration in Petersburg earlier on January 22. Large demonstrations were held in Riga, Liepaja, Jelgava and Venstpils. In all, 80,000 blue and white-collar workers took part in the strike. In Riga, the Czar's troops opened fire on the demonstrators, killing seventeen and wouding several hundred. In contrast to the situation in Russia, the first great action of the labour movement in Latvia was entirely controlled by the Social Democratic Party. The party demanded political freedom, a democratically elected National Assembly and an eight-hour working day. With these measures the revolution had begun in Latvia.

At the June 1905 congress of Social Democratic Party, the party adopted its first program, which was based on the German Erfurt Program. Its principal demands were a democratic republic and the right of self-determination. The congress elected a Central Committee, whose most prominent members were Jånis Jansons (1872-1917) and Jånis Ozols. In half a year, the party had printed 130 pamphlets, which were distributed in 500,000 copies. As the only political party in Latvia, the Social Democratic Party had become very popular. During summer 1905, demonstrations started near the churches in the country, followed by farmhands' strikes in August. The strikers stormed the urban district councils and estates, disarmed the police and destroyed judicial acts. The party's total membership increased from 6,000 to 18,200 members in October. The Latvian party's membership was greater than the whole Russian Social Democratic Party. The Latvian workers were politically more advanced than their Russian comrades.

When the Czar proclaimed political freedom on October 30, 1905, the Social Democratic Party was legalized and ruled for two months. In Riga and Liepaja, Social Democratic Federative Committees were in power, with the participation of the Jewish "Bund". In the country, Executive Committees were elected in free elections, replacing the old urban district councils. The Czar governors and Russian troops were now powerless and did not dare intervene. The socialist newspapers were no longer censored. Large meetings and demonstrations took place in every town and parish; the first Congress of Latvian Municipalities was held on December 2 and 3, 1905 in Riga. The congress, dominated by the socialists, expressed democratic demands in the name of the Latvian people. Meanwhile, the agrarian revolution had won a great victory in the country. The revolutionary committees took over city council administrations, formed a militia and drove the Baltic barons out of their estates. This freedom, which had been won by struggle, lasted two months.

In January, 1906, after the defeat of the revolution in Russia, large penal expeditions were sent to Latvia. 2,556 Latvian revolutionaries were hanged or executed, and 4,533 persons were deported to Siberia. Approximately 5,000 revolutionaries went into exile, emigrating mainly to the USA. In spite of this, party activities continued the following two years. The party's 1907 Congress, held in London, represented 16,000 illegally organized members. The socialists issued an illegal newspaper and won both the 1906 election to the Duma in Russia, as well as in Riga in 1907. A period of reaction started in 1907, lasting until 1911. In 1910, the party had only 2,000 members. Now the Latvian party attempted to establish contact with the Russian Social Democratic Party, having become autonomous of the Russian SDP in 1906. Latvia was reperesented in this party's Central Committee. During the bitter fight between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks from 1907 to 1914, the Latvian Party played an important role in supporting the Mensheviks.

The Latvian Social Democrats took part in the 1917 March revolution, but the party was seriously weakened after the October revolution. However, it soon reorganized, and since then has always fought against Latvian Communists. In November 1918, the Latvian Social Democratic Party took part in the proclamation of an independent Latvian Republic. During the years of independence (1918-1940), the party was always the largest in the country and usually received between 20 to 39% of the votes in general elections. In the last free general election in 1931, the Social Democrats gained 191,000 votes. In 1932, the party had 12,5000 members. Under the party's influence, the democratic constitution and the radical land reform of 1922, as well as many social laws, were adopted. The Social Democrats were represented twice in the government (in 1923 and during 1926-28). Two speakers of the parliament, F. Vesmanis and Dr. P. Kalnins were party members. Party leaders were Dr. P. Kalnins, A. Rudovics and F. Menders. Chairmen of the parliamentary Social Democratic group were F. Cielens, V. Bastjanis, A. Rudovics and F. Menders. Secretaries of the party were B. Kalnins and P. Ulpe. The party owned 3 daily and 6 weekly newspapers, the most important being Sociåldemokrats in Riga. In 1930, a revised and modernized party program, based on the Austrian Linz program, was adopted.

In 1934, as a consequence of the world economic crisis, as well as of the anti-democratic wave sweeping over Europe, a coup d' état took place in Latvia.The parliament and all political parties were dissolved and the democratic constitution was suspended. 2,000 Social Democrats were imprisoned or placed in a concentration camp in Liepaja. As head of the Workers' Union, which defended the legal constitution, Bruno Kalnins was arrested and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Under the Ulmanis' dictatorship (1934-1940), a small but radical Socialist Workers' and Peasants' Party worked illegally, fighting for the re-establishment of democracy.

Without protest or resistance, the Ulmanis' dictatorship allowed troops from the Soviet Union to occupy Latvia in June 1940. The country was then forcefully incorporated into the Soviet Union. During the following German occupation, the former Latvian Social Democratic Party was re-established and worked actively in the resistance movements agains both the German and Russian occupations. Many members of the party were arrested by the Gestapo, sent to concentration camps or executed. The NKVD and later the MVD deported many Social Democrats to Soviet concentration camps in Siberia. Among the deported were members of the Latvian parliament, among them the last chairman of the Party Dr. F. Menders and many other members of the labour movement. For F. Menders, K. Lorencs and R. Dukurs, this was their second deportation, since they had already been deported during the rule of the Czars.

The Latvian Social Democratic Party has been forced to work illegally for no less than 25 years; since democratic conditions in Latvia existed only for 15 years (1918-1934). Even during these years, the party always fought against acts of violence committed by the Latvian fascists, and for the preservation of the democratic constitiution. 70 - 77% of the party members were workers. Only during the great revolutions of 1905 and 1917-1919, did the Social Democrats succeed in drawing the country population into the party. In the political system of Latvia, the party filled an important function, since it was founded 14 years before the proclamation of an independent Latvia. Later, most of the other parties were set up after Social Democratic model.

Since 1945, the Latvian Social Democratic Party has been working in exile. In 1949, the party elected a Foreign Committee, with its seat in Stockholm. The party issues a monthly newsletter Bräväba (Freedom).

A new platform in exile was adopted in 1950. The members are brought up in the old spirit of the Latvian Social Democratic Party. Since 1949, LSDWP has been represented in the Socialist Union of Central-Eastern Europe, a coalition of Social Democratic parties in exile. In 1953, the Latvian Social Democratic Party was again admitted as a member of the Socialist International. In 1948, Bruno Kalnins was elected chairman on the party in exile. In spite of the lengthy occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union, the party had never lost hope for a free and democratic Latvia.

4 posted on 02/09/2005 12:43:44 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

(To be published in "Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust")

Liepaja (by Edward Anders)

1918: Kurzeme, Latvia; 1940: Liepaya, Kurzeme Latvian SSR; 1941: Libau, Kurland, Generalkommissariat Lettland; 2003: Kurzeme, Latvia

Jewish Population of Liepaja

At the time of the 1935 census, Liepaja had 7,379 Jews, or 13.4% of the population. By June 1941, the Jewish population had declined by natural causes to an estimated 7,140, due to emigration and the birth deficit of an aging population. On June 14, 1941, Soviet authorities deported 209 Jews to Siberia, and in the next two weeks about 300 fled to the USSR after the German attack, and some 160 soldiers and Workers’ Guards retreated with the Red Army. More might have fled, but the Soviet authorities did not let men leave - except communist functionaries - and later closed the Russian border to refugees. That left about 6,500 Jews in the hands of the German forces that captured the city on June 29, 1941 after a five-day siege.

German occupation and the ‘actions’ of the first five months

The 291st Infantry Division that captured Liepaja was accompanied by part of Einsatzkommando 1a of Walter Stahlecker’s Einsatzgruppe A. Sporadic killings of Jews by SS and soldiers began on the first day. The occupiers promptly recruited a Latvian "Self-Defense" force (later renamed "Auxiliary Police"), to perform police duties and arrest Jews and Communists. The prisoners were placed in the Women’s Prison for interrogation and eventual execution. No pogroms occurred, but some isolated looting took place, along with evictions, beatings, and arrests, usually perpetrated by self-defense men. Mass executions started on July 4, when EK 1a, assisted by naval personnel, shot 47 Jews and five Latvian Communists. They continued almost daily after EK 1a had been reinforced by part of EK 2, which had been ordered to "proceed in the most ruthless manner, as armed civilians had intervened in the battle for Liepaja". On July 14, the Einsatzkommandos departed, leaving behind SS-Untersturmführer Wolfgang Kügler as SD and Security Police Chief, with a staff of more than 20 men. The synagogues and prayer houses had remained untouched until then, but now Jewish men were forced to tear them down and trample on the sacred scrolls.

Liepaja had an ice-free port and a large naval base, and so it was the German Navy that took charge of the city. Several successive Navy commandants also had a major role in the atrocities of the first few months. On July 2, Korvettenkapitän Dr. Walter Stein warned the population that ten hostages would be killed for every act of sabotage, looting, or attack. He was succeeded by Fregattenkapitän Dr. Hans Kawelmacher, whose aide, Korvettenkapitän Fritz Brückner, amended this decree on July 8 by threatening to kill 100 hostages for every injured German soldier. On July 5, Brückner issued a set of draconian rules for Jews, including the requirement to wear yellow patches on their chest and backs. Thus marked, Jewish men became easy prey for daily manhunts by the Navy, SD, and Latvian police, and in the next two weeks, more than 300 Jews were shot. Many victims were conveniently seized on the Firehouse Square, where Jewish men between 16 and 60 had to report for work every morning.

Believing their own propaganda that Jews were the main pillars of the Soviet state, the Red Army, and the partisans, the Nazis ruthlessly killed Jewish men. They even killed them as "hostages" to retaliate for sniper attacks by manifestly non-Jewish partisans, failing to realize that this would hardly deter the latter, as solidarity between Jews and non-Jews was tenuous. The almost daily executions by SS or Navy firing squads with Latvian helpers were performed within the city limits, near the lighthouse and the beach. Often they were watched by hundreds of German soldiers and their sweethearts.

The pace of shootings was not fast enough for commandant Kawelmacher (a.k.a. Gontard). On July 22 he telexed the commanding admiral of the Baltic fleet in Kiel, requesting 100 SS- and 50 Schutzpolizei troops "for rapid execution [of the] Jewish problem. With present SS-personnel, this would take one year, which is untenable for [the] pacification of Liepaja." His request was promptly granted; the notorious Latvian SD Commando under Viktors Arajs arrived from Riga, shot about 1,100 Jewish men on July 24 and 25, and left. Meanwhile the 2nd Company of Police Battalion 13 under SS-Hauptsturmführer Georg Rosenstock had arrived, primarily for patrol duty and to a lesser extent for executions. From then on, the Navy played a less active role, leaving the persecution of Jews in the hands of Kügler and his superior, SS-und Polizeistandortführer Dr. Fritz Dietrich, who arrived in mid-September.

There were fewer executions in August, but the pace quickened in September, when about 300, mainly elderly, Jewish men and women were shot. After Rosenstock’s 2nd Company left on September 10, Kügler organized a Latvian SD Guard platoon, which henceforth regularly carried out executions. New killing sites were used, first on the naval base and then at a former Latvian army shooting range in the dunes of Skede, about 15 km from the city center. Another 500 Jews were shot in October, but after Gebietskomissar Dr. Walter Alnor protested against these "wild killings", which according to the Latvian mayor had caused "great dissatisfaction" among the city population, the pace in Liepaja slackened. Instead, the SD platoon traveled to several smaller Kurzeme towns in November (Vainode, Aizpute, and Grobina), where they killed the remaining c. 700 Jews. In 1935, some 4,633 Jews had lived in the countryside and the smaller towns of Kurzeme, but most had been killed in July and August. A "ghetto" (actually an internment camp) was established in the second-largest city, Ventspils, on July 13, 1941 and was first used for Jewish men between 16 and 60 who were shot 16—18 July, and then for women and children, who were killed in a series of actions from July to September 26.

The December 1941 action

The killings reached a climax in December 1941. SS-and Police General Friedrich Jeckeln, who organized the mass shooting of more than 30,000 Jews from Kiev at Babi Yar in September, took over the position of Higher SS- and Police Chief Ostland in mid-November. He had orders to drastically reduce the number of Jews. After organizing the murder of 24,000 Latvian and 1,000 German Jews at Rumbula on November 30 and December 8, he ordered a similar massacre for Liepaja, where 3890 Jews still remained in November 1941. No ghetto had yet been established in Liepaja, but Dietrich ordered a 2-day curfew for Jews. Thus confined to their apartments, they were methodically rounded up by Latvian police and taken to the Women’s Prison. From there they were marched to the Skede execution site, ordered to undress, and were shot in groups of 10 by three firing squads, two Latvian and one German. All together, 2,749 Jews were shot on December 15—17. They were mainly women and children, who had been largely spared until now. Kügler’s deputy, SS-Scharführer Carl Emil Strott, photographed the executions. An audacious Jew working at the Security Police, David Zivcon, got hold of a 12-exposure film long enough to make copies, which have been widely reproduced and exhibited after the war.

About 1,050 Jews remained after the December massacre, mainly people who worked for the German military or SD, and their dependents. Several score were saved by a Navy procurement officer, Marineverwaltungsinspektor Friedrich Kroll, who was in charge of the uniform warehouse and insisted that the Jewish workers stay there during the three days of the Aktion. Most of the gentile population of Liepaja had been dismayed by the killings, as noted by Dietrich in his January 3, 1942 report to the SS und Polizeiführer Lettland in Riga: "The execution of Jews carried out during the report period still is the conversation topic of the local population. The fate of the Jews is widely deplored, and thus far few voices have been heard in favor of the elimination of the Jews." Kügler therefore began the next "action", February 16, 1942, in the middle of the night, during the nightly curfew and blackout. Jews were quietly taken to Skede on horse-drawn sleds and shot after daybreak. Although 152 were killed that day, 16 others overpowered the driver and guards and fled in the darkness. Fourteen of the 16 eluded recapture, but only one of them survived the war. Another killing of several dozen Jews was thoughtfully carried out on Hitler’s birthday, April 20, 1942.

The attitude of the Latvian population varied widely. Murderers and antisemites were a minority, but encouraged by the Nazi authorities, they were able to do much harm. At the opposite extreme were people who secretly helped Jews, by giving or at least selling them food, or even by hiding them. The great majority was somewhere in between, ranging from quietly sympathetic to indifferent.

The Ghetto, 1942—43

For the first year of the German occupation, Jews continued to live in apartments scattered throughout the city, but under increasingly crowded conditions, as they were evicted from the choicer apartments and forced to double up or triple up with other families. Bombs, shells, and fires during the siege of Liepaja had made a disproportionate number of Jews homeless, further adding to the crowding. At last Dietrich ordered the establishment of a ghetto for the remaining 832 Jews on July 1, 1942. It comprised a single block bounded by Darza, Apshu, Kungu, and Barenu streets and was enclosed with barbed wire.

The commandant of the ghetto was Meister der Schutzpolizei Franz Kerscher, a remarkably humane official who occasionally revealed his feelings by expressions such as "Gott sei Dank" and "Leider Gottes". There were no selections during the 15-month existence of the ghetto, but the SD executed several dozen Jews for minor infractions. Thirteen babies were born in the ghetto and were left unharmed while the ghetto existed. This killing pause is confirmed by official figures that reported 809 Jews in Kurzeme on March 10, 1943, only slightly fewer than the initial 832 on July 1, 1942. The Judenrat members–businessman Zalman Israelit and lawyer Menash Kaganski–were on good terms with Kerscher and generally managed to arrange lenient treatment of offenders. For this purpose they sometimes bribed him with items such as fur coats, jewelry, or gold coins (contributed by residents), but apparently Kerscher often passed part or all of the bribe on to his superiors to buy their acquiescence. The Judenrat enjoyed the respect and trust of the ghetto residents.

Food rations were woefully inadequate: one-half of the skimpy daily ration of the gentile civilian population (1,030 calories in 1942). But food was available on the black market, as Latvian farmers were productive enough to have some left even after meeting the stiff delivery quotas imposed by the German administration. Nearly all Jews worked outside the ghetto and thus had opportunities to barter any remaining belongings for food, which they were able to smuggle into the ghetto under the lax search practices established by Kerscher. Wages were shamefully low. Though the employers of Jews had to remit Jews’ wages at the pay scale of Gentiles to the Gebietskomissar, only a small fraction of this money was paid out to the Jewish workers. For piece work this fraction was 25%.

The ghetto was guarded by ten rifle-armed Latvian policemen, four of whom patrolled the fence during each shift. The residents were required to be in the ghetto 19h—05h (all day Sundays and holidays), and in their rooms 22h—05h. There was a library, a drama club, and a small synagogue. A few concerts were held, including recitals of satirical songs mocking the Nazis, and there were occasional volleyball games. Classes were organized for children. A few radios had been smuggled into the ghetto, enabling the residents to listen to foreign broadcasts. There were no weapons or armed resistance in the ghetto, and no escape attempts until the very end. Consequently there were no crises that might have brought the few ghetto policemen into conflict with the other residents. On one occasion the ghetto police imprisoned two ghetto residents who had stolen groceries from the ghetto store. Subsequently both were seized by the SD and executed.

From October 22, 1942 to March 1943, 160 Jews from the Riga ghetto–originally from Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Germany–were in Liepaja to work in the local sugar factory, and were housed in the Liepaja ghetto. From them the Liepaja Jews learned about the Rumbula massacres of November-December 1941.


In May 1943, a few dozen Jewish craftsmen were transferred to the military base Paplaka, some 35 km east of Liepaja, where there were large barracks of Latvian SS legionnaires and Ukrainian Hilfswillige (auxiliaries), both under German supervision. The Jewish men worked as glaziers, electricians, etc., often off-site. They were soon joined by Jewish women who did laundry, office cleaning and other jobs. Food, housing, and freedom of movement were better than those in the ghetto.

The 38 Jews in Paplaka stayed behind when the Liepaja ghetto was closed on October 8, 1943, but on April 28, 1944, they were sent to Riga via Liepaja. Three men managed to escape and found shelter with a brave Latvian couple in Liepaja, Roberts and Anna Sedols, who had already hidden 8 other escapees from the Liepaja ghetto and provided them with food and guns. Unfortunately Roberts Sedols was killed during an air raid on March 10, 1945, but all his wards survived until the Soviets reoccupied Liepaja after the armistice of May 9, 1945. One of the Jews in hiding, Kalman Linkimer, has left a 315-page diary covering the entire German occupation period. It is being prepared for publication.

Deportation to Riga and Stutthof

Despite the protests of Kerscher and the Gebietskomissar, the ghetto was closed on October 8, 1943 and the c. 800 survivors were taken to the Kaiserwald camp in Riga. Conditions were dismal, causing one survivor to say that life in the Liepaja ghetto "was paradise in comparison". Older people and women with children were selected soon after arrival, and were temporarily gathered in the ghetto. Most mothers and children under twelve were sent to Auschwitz on November 3, 1943 for gassing, whereas older people were killed locally. A number of the younger people were assigned to work in outlying Kasernierungen (barracks) such as the Reichsbahn or AEG, where conditions were more tolerable. When the Red Army approached Riga in the summer of 1944, an additional selection was carried out, and the survivors were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig in several transports, from August 8 to October 1, 1944.

A number of prisoners were assigned to satellite camps, some of which maintained bearable conditions (Reichsbahn, AEG, etc.). But others stayed in Stutthof or were transferred to other camps (Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Stolp, Polte-Magdeburg, etc.), and many died due to the increasingly brutal conditions, especially on death marches in early 1945. The Stutthof prisoners were put on barges on April 25, 1945 and towed westward for a week without food. After the tugs abandoned the barges, Norwegian prisoners managed to navigate them to a beach at Neustadt i.H., where those Jews who had not perished during the voyage staggered ashore. They were greeted by Navy men who shot or drowned more than 50 of the Jews, including 8 from Liepaja–as it turned out, only a few hours before liberation by British troops. By this cruel quirk of fate, Navy sailors had once again become the nemesis of Liepaja Jews, nearly finishing the job their Navy comrades had begun in 1941.

Eight other Liepaja Jews died in Neustadt after liberation. Only 175 Liepaja Jews survived the war, along with 33 who had been hidden by Latvians.


The names and vital statistics of more than 95% of Liepaja Jews have been recovered, permitting some quantitative demographic inferences. The killings of 1941 initially targeted men only, but then extended to elderly people and finally to women with children and other unskilled or non-essential people. But the ratio of men to women dropped steadily:

14.6.41 (0.81), 1.1.42 (0.57), 9.8.44 (0.44), 9.5.45 (0.38). In contrast to Riga, where only 11 women per 100 men remained after the Rumbula massacres, indicating a policy of sparing male workers, the trend in Liepaja was to spare women, leaving 170 women per 100 men by the end of 1941. This preferential survival of women continued even after deportation to Riga and Stutthof, when physical endurance became increasingly important, in addition to passing the cruel selection criteria of the SS.

The combined effect of endurance and selection is seen in the following table, which shows the surviving fraction (on December 31, 1945) as a function of age.

Age in 1941




































Young women who had been 10 to 24 years old in 1941 had the best chance of survival. Among men, the 10—14 year cohort did best, but nearly all other age groups had survival fractions of less than 1%, reaching zero at 45 years and older.

Post-war trials

Some of the murderers got their deserved punishment. Walter Stahlecker, who commanded Einsatzgruppe A that killed 35,000 Jews in Latvia, was fatally wounded by a partisan’s bullet near Leningrad in 1942. Friedrich Jeckeln, who ordered the killings of more than 30,000 in Rumbula, Skede, and elsewhere, was hanged in Riga in 1946. Wolfgang Kügler, head of the Liepaja SD, committed suicide in a West German jail on December 2, 1959. Several other members of the Liepaja SD were tried in Hannover in 1969/71, but got off lightly. Strott–by then a retired hotel director–got only a 7-year prison term, and Grauel, Reiche, Kuketta, Fahrbach, and Rosenstock, 11/2 to 6 years. Erich Handke, who was tried separately by the Hannover court, died after serving 8 months of his 8-year sentence. Hans Baumgartner, who was tried in East Berlin, was sentenced to death.

The arch-murderer Viktors Arajs was inexplicably released from British detention in 1948 and lived peacefully in Frankfurt under his wife’s maiden name for 27 years. He was apprehended in 1975 and sentenced to life imprisonment but died in 1986. The Soviets tried 356 members of the Arajs Commando, most of whom got 10—25 years in the Gulag or the death penalty. They also tried a number of Latvian Auxiliary Police, but given the arbitrariness of Soviet justice, some sentences may have been too lenient and others too harsh. About 20 Liepaja auxiliary policemen were tried as members of the 20th Latvian Schutzmannschaft Battalion in the 1970s, but although many of the defendants apparently participated in the 1941 Aktionen, the indictment focused less on individual guilt than on membership in the battalion, although it at that time existed only on paper.

Published Works

Among works by historians, the most comprehensive account of Nazi actions in Liepaja is Andrew Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia 1941—1944 (Riga and Washington: The Historical Institute of Latvia, 1996), pp. 286—298. Another excellent account, primarily from the victims’ perspective, is Dov Levin, Pinkas Hakehillot Latvia v’Estonia (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1988), pp. 180-186. An English translation by Shalom Bronstein is available on the Web at

Events in the first months of the occupation, with emphasis on the role of the German Navy, are described in greater detail in Margers Vestermanis, Ortskommandantur Libau Zwei Monate deutscher Besatzung im Sommer 1941, in Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann, eds., Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941&#8212;1944 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1995) pp. 241&#8212;61, and Heinz-Ludger Borgert, "Die Kriegsmarine und das Unternehmen ´Barbarossaª," Mitteilungen aus dem Bundesarchiv 1999:1 (1999), pp. 52&#8212;66. Eyewitness accounts of executions along with pictures of the Skede executions have been published by Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, Volker Reiss, The Good Old Days: The Holocaust As Seen by Its Perpetrators & Bystanders. New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1997, pp. 126&#8212;135. Among survivor accounts, the most detailed one is Solomon Feigerson, Tragediya Liepayskikh Yevreev (Riga: 2002), but three additional accounts are found in Gertrude Schneider, Muted Voices (New York: Philosophical Library, 1987; chapters by George D. Schwab, Aaron Vesterman, and Shoshana Kahn). Reminescences of pre-war Liepaja are included in Libauers&#8217; Committee of Israel, A Town Named Libau (Yizkor Book). (Tel Aviv: 1982); Names of some 7,000 survivors and victims (along with Ezergailis&#8217; Liepaja chapter and an English version of Feigerson&#8217;s memoir) are contained in Edward Anders and Juris Dubrovskis, Jews in Liepaja, Latvia 1941&#8212;45 (Burlingame: Anders Press, 2001). An up-to-date version of the database, currently with 7096 names, is available at <>. The methodology of this project is described in Edward Anders and Juris Dubrovskis, Who Died in the Holocaust? Recovering Names From Official Records. Holocaust and Genocide Studies 17 [1], 114&#8212;138 (2003) <Who_Died.pdf>

Main Archival Sources

The most important sources are the Latvian State Historical Archives (LVVA), Riga and the Museum and Documentation Center "Jews in Latvia" (JL), Riga. The Panstwowe Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie (STU) has partial records on Liepaja Jews deported to Stutthof in July-October 1944, as well as transport lists to other camps. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has microfilms of documents from LVVA and STU. Yad Vashem has many survivor memoirs. The Bundesarchiv (BA), Berlin, has a number of documents of the German civil administration Ostland that are not available in the LVVA, and the Zentrale Stelle, Ludwigsburg (ZSL) has records of the Grauel investigation as well as documents on several cases that did not come to trial.

5 posted on 02/09/2005 12:45:28 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John
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The Memoirs of Jacob Kalnin, 1889-1986

p. 48a: Translator's historical notes on Latvia in 1919

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My grandfather returned to a very muddled political situation in 1919. This outline may be useful in keeping track of the names and places mentioned in this section.

In 1917, the Germans overran the rest of Latvia, as Russia disintegrated into revolution and civil war. In March 1918, the new Soviet Russian government surrendered large areas of the former Russian Empire to Germany, ending WWI on the eastern front.

Germany then launched its great summer offensive against France, and its failure led to revolution and a new German government which surrendered to the Allies in November 1918.

One week after the armistice the Latvians declared their independence, opposed by a local government of Baltic Germans (whose military arm was the local Landwehr), anti-communist White Russians, and freebooting remnants of the German army, which was officially no longer supposed to be there.

The Latvian units of the tsarist Russian army had gone over to the Reds at the beginning of the Russian civil war, and led the communist offensive from the east, overrunning Riga and most of the Latvia in the winter of 1918-1919. They were halted, with many of the Latvians going over from the communists to the national army; and the Germans and Latvians, fighting together, recaptured most of the country in the spring of 1919.

The leader of the German forces, Count Rüdiger von der Goltz, turned against the Latvians and Estonians, who had driven the communists from the northern part of Latvia. In June 1919 Goltz was stopped at the battle of Cesis [Ger. Wenden], northeast of Riga, and agreed, under Allied pressure, to subordinate his forces to the Latvian government. He withdrew to Jelgava, southwest of Riga, and secretly prepared for another attack against the Latvian government, while the front against the communists held stable in eastern Latvia. It was there that my grandfather was imprisoned that summer.

In October 1919, Goltz's forces advanced as far as the west bank of the Daugava River at Riga. The Latvians stormed his positions in November 1919, with artillery support from Allied ships on the river, and drove the Germans away.

Goltz, defeated, returned to Germany permanently, and the remnants of his forces came under the command of the Latvian army. The Latvians, aided by Polish troops, drove the Red Army from the eastern part of the country in January 1920, and a peace treaty was signed ending hostilities with the Soviet Union.

By Peter Kalnin

Feedback, submissions, ideas? Email

6 posted on 02/09/2005 12:53:57 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: jb6

You've got no shame pal.

7 posted on 02/09/2005 3:59:09 AM PST by Grzegorz 246
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To: Grzegorz 246

Yeah, nothing like posting some historic facts to show "no shame". Must be your EUness showing. Tow the EU line and have no free thought. No thanks.

8 posted on 02/09/2005 7:05:34 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: jb6

You like so much historic facts ? So why don't you post anything about Russians unit in SS ?

9 posted on 02/09/2005 8:14:30 AM PST by Grzegorz 246
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