Following the occupation of
9.1 Ruse employed 9.2 Murder in the forest 9.3 Number of victims
10 Life in the ghetto
10.1 Jewish administration 10.2 Treatment by the Germans 10.3 Individual executions 10.4 Sealing of the ghetto
11 November shootings 12 Associated German and Latvian units 13 May 1 liquidation 14 Transfer to Kaiserwald 15 Number of victims 16 Notes 17 References
17.1 Historiographical 17.2 Personal narratives 17.3 War crime trials and evidence
18 External links
The city of
During the following two days [June 27 and June 28], the larger part of the city burned down. Only a small part of the city was damaged by battle activity. During the following days fires were caused by arson. Before leaving, the Russians had issued a proclamation announcing the burning of the city. The Jews decisively participated in setting the city on fire.
On June 29, 1941, at the order of Robert Blūzmanis, who had been
appointed by the Germans as the police chief of the Latvian police in
Daugavpils, large signs were posted around the city announcing in
German, Russian and Latvian that all Jewish males below the age of 60
were to report that morning to the main marketplace, failure to do so
would be met with "the maximum penalty." Some of them were
put to work burying the bodies of civilians and
This image, taken in Liepāja, Latvia, in July 1941, shows native Latvians armed and guarding Jews
German propaganda image showing Latvians reading German propaganda display
Mass killings of Jews in
– They were seizing Jews in the streets of Dvinsk and taking them to the prison where they were severely tormented. They were forced to lie down on the ground and jump up again; those who could not do it fast enough were shot. (Sema Shpungin) – One of the murderers went up to my father and shouted to his face: 'How many houses did you burn?' and gave him a blow with his pistol. * * * two Germans entered and started to shout that we are communists and that's why we're hiding – and they wanted to arrest us. (Paula Frankel-Zaltzman)
The Germans accused them of setting fire to Daugavpils. According to Stahlecker's official report:
Jews in general and Lithuanian refugees in particular were accused of
being communists. On July 8, 1941, a newspaper in Daugavpils
The time has come to end all service to the Jews, to end every selling
of oneself to the Jews! ... One must remember that it was the Jews who
As time went on, increased numbers of Latvian auxiliary police guarded the prison where the Jewish men were held. By July 8, the work had become so hard that the Jews were literally being worked to death. One assignment included rolling huge blocks of stone to the top of a hill, another including carrying heavy timbers several kilometers. German guards struck prisoners with whips at will. Later, the expression arose among the widows of the men who were rounded up and killed on June 29 about their husbands that, "'he was taken way to prison that First Sunday.'" Railroad Park massacre
By July 7, 1941, the
At a long ditch ahead of them were four Latvian auxiliaries loading their rifles. A German officer yelled at the prisoners, "Four of you, march ahead." When the men reached the ditch, the German yelled "fire!" Each of the Latvians fired at one man – one bullet in the head at close range – and the four fell in the ditch. "The next four." They were also shot. (All this was being filmed by German soldiers).
Kuritsky was saved when the Germans turned out to have miscalculated the number of bodies they could place in the pits:
But then, the remaining prisoners were given spades and ordered to cover the ditches with dirt – there was no more room. The ditches were full of dying people and blood. They struggled spasmodically like fish out of water ... heads hanging back ... a wet, slippery, moving mass ...
Anyone not working fast enough to cover the bodies was ordered to lie down on them and was shot by the German officer, who screamed at them "faster, faster", and raved hysterically against the Jews. The number killed is unclear. Iwens, who while present, was trying to survive, said "thousands" were killed. The Germans reported killing 1,150 Jews by July 11. The Germans later separated from those who identified themselves as craftsmen, such as carpenters, from the professionals. Some of the craftsmen were kept alive for a while, but the professionals were killed immediately. After the Railroad Park massacre, few Germans were seen in the area of the prison, which was run for the most part by the Latvian auxiliary police.
Measures against Jews
Blūzmanis, the Latvian police chief in Daugavpils, carried out the
SD's wishes for certain Jewish restrictions. It was Blūzmanis, acting
for the SD, who ordered that all Jews in
Marking of the Jews by a yellow star, to be worn on the breast and the back which was ordered in the first instance by provisional orders of the Security Police, was carried out within a short time on the basis of regulations issued by the Commander of the Rear area and later by the Civil Administration.
Later, the Nazis forbade Jews to use the sidewalks, to speak to
non-Jews and to read newspapers. Frankel-Zaltzman reported
being shouted at as she and her parents were driven out of their home:
"Nobody dare step on the sidewalk! Yudn [Jews] must run in the middle
of the road like dogs!"
Construction of the ghetto
Construction of the ghetto began on July 18, 1941, as confirmed by
Stahlecker himself: "Apart from organizing and carrying out measures
of execution, the creation of Ghettos was begun in the larger towns at
once during the first days of operations.". Jewish forced labor
was used to build the ghetto, which was not an actual housing
district, but rather a decrepit fortress on the west side of the
Daugava river, a short distance just to the northwest of the suburb of
Griva, across from the main city of Daugavpils.: "In July,
as the initial wave of shootings subsided, the local Germans and their
Latvian counterparts rounded up some 14,000 Jews from
On Tuesday evening we heard cries from the distance. The cries came nearer and nearer until we realized that these were the cries of tortured Jews. The next day we discovered that into the ghetto the remaining Jews had been gathered from all the surrounding villages. From Dvinsk alone, then from Dondo, Vishkes, Krislovke, Indra, Livengoff, Nitzkol and from all the way to Riga. The Latvian population had been told that they will no longer see a Jew, not even in the museum, even if one were to pay two lot [Latvian money] for a Jew there would not be one to be had.
Some had been forced to walk up to 50 kilometers. The Latvian guards
enforced their commands by beating the workers with clubs that were
four or five feet long. Among other things, Jews were beaten if they
smiled upon recognizing another Jewish prisoner. Iwens, an eyewitness,
reported that "many women had to cope with their children and aged
parents all by themselves, for their men had been killed in the prison
Einsatzgruppe A was assigned by
If, up to now, the crowding was bad, it got even worse [following the arrival of the Jews from other parts of Latgale and Latvia], unbearable. But the commandants of the ghetto said that it would soon become "roomier." A new camp/lager would be established for the newcomers and whoever will want to will be able to go along. In three days time an order was issued that all newcomers must go to a new camp."
Other sources state that it was the old and sick who were called upon
to report in the first action; the date was July 27, 1941.
Thousands of people were crammed into the small old fortress, with
only two water taps, almost no sanitary facilities, and no food. Many
people were naturally anxious to leave. A column of 2,000
people was quickly formed up, and marched out under the guard of
Latvian auxiliary police. A few days later, possibly on August 6,
a similar offer was extended to all parents with small children, with
Murder in the forest
Instead of going to a new camp, these columns were marched to a set of
prepared graves at a former Latvian army training ground in the
Pogulianka woods, near the resort of Mežciems, where Germans and
Latvian auxiliaries shot the people and pushed their bodies into
previously excavated pits. It was reported however that babies
were not shot, but simply thrown into a pit and buried alive. By July
28, 1941, old and sick people had also been taken out of the ghetto in
a separate incident. They were also murdered. The earthen
cover heaped on the graves was quite thin, and two boys only slightly
wounded and on the top of the heaped bodies dug themselves out and
escaped. Use of the forested area to conceal the murders was
typical of mass shootings in Latvia; the murders in the Railroad Park
were an exception. The executioners were often quite drunk.
During the first two weeks in August, 1941, the SD, carried out
additional "selections" at the ghetto, choosing who would live and who
would die. There were also major actions on August 18 and 19.
Mothers, children, the aged and the sick were generally picked to die.
In particular there was a massacre of 400 children from an
orphanage. The only security appeared to be being selected for
work by the Germans, which required a document known as a Schein to
prove that a person was working for a German military unit. While a
Schein was not a guarantee against execution, lack of one was almost
certain to lead to death. As units moved to the front, it became more
difficult to procure a Schein.
Number of victims
As a result of various Aktions in August, the ghetto population had
been reduced to about 6,000 to 7,000 people. According to Nazi
Karl Jäger, a component of
The Germans protected us because our work was of use to them; it was also true that some felt sorry for us – especially for "their" Jews,' those they had gotten to know personally. Whenever Jews worked for any length of time, with ordinary German soldiers, their relationship often became quite friendly. At 322, Yasha Magid, the 'Oberjude', and Dr. Itzikowitz were much respected by their chief and so was Margaram at our place. The fact that Jews understood the German language, whereas most gentiles did not, was also helpful. But we had no illusions. Sooner or later there would be a direct order and we'd be done away with.
Another survivor, Frankel-Zaltzman, described how the last survivors of the ghetto learned from a German soldier that they would not be massacred, as they had feared, on June 26, 1942, which was the one-year anniversary of the fall of Daugavpils:
* * * there was suddenly a knock at the window. A soldier came to tell us that we can sleep in peace. * * * "You can believe me and I want you not to give me away when the chief himself will come to tell you this, because I wasn't supposed to come and tell you the good news, but I am not an enemy of the Jews and I see how you are suffering." The soldier went away and we didn't know if we should rejoice because maybe this is a trick of the chief's so that we shouldn't run away before daybreak. Finally we decided to believe the soldier because he was always very friendly to us, helped us carry food to our brothers at the fortress and even used to bring a long piece of white bread for the sick.
No matter what, the relationship between Jews and Germans remained
strange at best: "Regardless of how friendly a German became with a
Jew, awareness that one had absolute power over the other made such an
association seem unnatural."
The German authorities enforced discipline in the
One Sunday, when no one was going to work, an order was issued. Panic broke out once more. What now? We were all out in the yard when an announcement was made. We were terrified. The announcement was: 'You are about to witness what happens to a woman who wants to hide her Jewishness.' A beautiful blonde woman was brought in with a noose attached to her neck and publicly hanged. Her crime? She was found walking in the street with her shawl covering her yellow star.
A Jewish Ghetto police force enforced these rules. On at least one
occasion, the police chief, one Pasternak, in early 1942, carried out
a hanging, although it was perceived that he was reluctant to do
so. In that case, the body of the executed woman, Mina Gittelson,
whose crime was walking on the sidewalk and not in the street, and not
wearing the Jewish badge, was left hanging for three days.
Another source says that she had resisted the advances of the manager
at the hotel where she worked, and he pressed the charges of illegal
trading against her in retaliation. Also executed was 48-year-old
Chaya Mayerova (other sources give her name as Meyorvich and
Mejerow), who was shot before the assembled ghetto inhabitants for
exchanging a piece of cloth for two kilograms of flour.
Sealing of the ghetto
A few days after the November massacre, the ghetto was closed, or in
the bureaucratic term, "quarantined". This meant that the few people
who were authorized to leave the ghetto to work in the city could no
longer do so. This cut off their ability to smuggle in food. People
died of hunger. Typhus epidemics broke out in December 1941 and in
February 1942, killing additional occupants.
By the end of September 1941, the Nazis had killed about 30,000 Jews
in Latvia, mostly in small towns. Three large population centers
of Jews still remained, at Riga, Liepāja, and Daugavpils. From
November 7 to 9, 1941, the Germans killed most of the remaining Jews
Outside, meanwhile, a devil's dance was taking place. There was shooting from all directions and nobody knew whose hour would strike in a minute or two. Suddenly, a nurse ran in out of breath and told everyone in the hospital that the commandant of the ghetto was coming here with some bandits to search for people who were hiding [.] * * * His shouts could be heard from a few rooms away. He threw the sick ones off their beds and looked for victims and told his gang to take them down into the yard. Those who can't walk are immediately shot in the yard. He was able to do this. His hand didn't even tremble.
A few people were able to survive by hiding in locations, including
latrine wells, within the old fortress. Others were hidden in
the hospital by the nurses, at mortal risk to themselves. In the
four months from July to November 1941, the Nazis killed at least
15,000 Jews in Daugavpils. Of the several thousand people in the
ghetto, only about 900 remained alive after the November
shootings. Following the November massacre, a number of Jews with
work permits were stationed (kasierniert or "barracked") outside the
ghetto at the larger older fortress, sometimes called the citadel, on
the north side of the Daugava River. Here they performed various labor
services for the German army, and although they were not paid and food
was scarce, they were treated better than the Jews who were confined
to the ghetto. Because the citadel was under the administration of
the German army, Latvian auxiliary police units were not seen.
Associated German and Latvian units
The following units of the German army were associated with the
Army Barracks Administration (Heeresunterkunft Verwaltung) No. 322. This organization was responsible for supervising Jews working in warehouses and workshops unloading, cleaning, sorting and repairing the uniforms of wounded German soldiers. Army Barracks Administration (Heeresunterkunft Verwaltung) No. 200. Forty Jewish women worked for this organization, whose duties included cleaning the rooms of German officers. Army Construction Service Department (Heeresbaudienststelle) No. 100.
May 1 liquidation
Modern aerial view of the
On May 1, 1942, there were about 1,500 survivors in the Griva fortress/ghetto. Rudolf Lange, commander of the SD in Latvia, gave an order to Tabbert to liquidate the ghetto. Tabbert's men, and the Arājs commando, entered the ghetto in the morning after the working Jews had been marched out to the job sites. The Nazis conducted another "selection" that day, killing the great majority of Jews in the ghetto. One source states there were 375 survivors of the May 1 selection. Others state that of the Jews in the old fortress on the west side of the river, only one or two survived May 1. The May 1 selection followed the pattern of assembling the people to be executed, then marching them out to the Pogulianka Forest, where they were all shot and shoved into pre-dug mass graves. According to Iwens, who was at the citadel, and heard the story a few days later:
The Latvian auxiliaries went wild ... They threw old and sick people through second floor windows, shot those who refused to leave their rooms, and killed some of the very small children by cracking their heads against the concrete walls of the buildings. Even when the columns were assembled for departure, shots were fired into the mass of people.
Extraordinary brutality accompanied the May 1 killings. Among other things, the Nazis executed the older children in the ghetto itself by lining them up against a wall and shooting them. Eyewitness Maja Zarch, quoted in Gilbert, stated the following:
Walking through the gates we saw puddles of blood, broken bottles, and chairs strewn all over the place ... We walked on, only to see sights that defy any description. Children's bodies lay around, torn in half with the heads smashed in.
Following the May 1 shootings, of the 16,000 Jews in
^ a b Ezergailis,
Dribins, Leo, Gūtmanis, Armands, and Vestermanis, Marģers, Latvia's
Jewish Community: History, Tragedy, Revival (2001), available the
website of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ehrenburg, Ilya, Grossman, Patterson, David, Louis, Irving, The
Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry, Transaction, New Brunswick, NJ
2002 ISBN 0-7658-0069-1
Gilbert, Martin, The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during
the Second World War, Holt, New York, NY, 1987 ISBN 0-8050-0348-7
Kaufmann, Max, Die Vernichtung des Judens Lettlands (The Destruction
of the Jews of Latvia), Munich, 1947, English translation by Laimdota
Mazzarins available on-line as Churbn Lettland – The Destruction of
the Jews of Latvia
Lumans, Valdis O.,
Abramowitch, Maja, To Forgive... but Not Forget: Maja's Story, Vallentine Mitchell, London 2002 ISBN 0-85303-432-X Frankel-Zaltzman, Paula, Haftling No. 94771 originally published Montreal 1949, republished in electronic version in five parts by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Iwens, Sidney, How Dark the Heavens: 1400 Days in the Grip of Nazi Terror, Shengold, New York, NY 1990 ISBN 0-88400-147-4
War crime trials and evidence
Jaeger Report, "Complete tabulation of executions carried out in the
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, Holocaust
Education, Research and Remembrance in Latvia, 16 Sept 2003
v t e
Main article The Holocaust Related articles by country Belarus Estonia Lithuania Norway Poland Russia Ukraine
Jewish people of Latvia Gypsies Joseph Carlebach Simon Dubnow Else Hirsch
Alois Brunner Rudolf Batz Fritz Dietrich Otto-Heinrich Drechsler Erich Ehrlinger Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Heinz Jost Konrāds Kalējs Ernst Kaltenbrunner Wolfgang Kügler Rudolf Lange Hinrich Lohse Friedrich Panzinger Hans-Adolf Prützmann Eduard Roschmann Alfred Rosenberg Martin Sandberger Albert Sauer Rudolf Joachim Seck Franz Walter Stahlecker Eduard Strauch
Nazi occupation and organizations
Einsatzgruppen Reichskommissariat Ostland Rollkommando Hamann
Individuals Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Kārlis Lobe
Organizations Arajs Kommando Latvian Auxiliary Police Schutzmannschaft
Ghettos and camps
Generalplan Ost Jäger Report
War crimes investigations and trials
Righteous Among the Nations
Jānis Lipke Roberts Sedols
v t e
Reinhard Heydrich Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Commanders of Einsatzgruppen
Humbert Achamer-Pifrader Walther Bierkamp Horst Böhme Erich Ehrlinger Wilhelm Fuchs Heinz Jost Erich Naumann Arthur Nebe Otto Ohlendorf Friedrich Panzinger Otto Rasch Heinrich Seetzen Franz Walter Stahlecker Bruno Streckenbach
Commanders of Einsatzkommandos, Sonderkommandos
Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski Rudolf Batz Ernst Biberstein Wolfgang Birkner Helmut Bischoff Paul Blobel Walter Blume Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock Otto Bradfisch Werner Braune Friedrich Buchardt Fritz Dietrich Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Waldemar Klingelhöfer Wolfgang Kügler Walter Kutschmann Rudolf Lange Gustav Adolf Nosske Hans-Adolf Prützmann Walter Rauff Martin Sandberger Hermann Schaper Karl Eberhard Schöngarth Erwin Schulz Franz Six Eugen Steimle Eduard Strauch Martin Weiss Udo von Woyrsch
August Becker Lothar Fendler Joachim Hamann Emil Haussmann Felix Landau Albert Widmann
Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Antanas Impulevičius Konrāds Kalējs Algirdas Klimaitis
SS RSHA SD Orpo 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz Sonderdienst
Łachwa Ghetto Minsk Ghetto Slutsk Affair
Operation Tannenberg Intelligenzaktion AB-Aktion Operation Reinhard
Gully of Petrushino Zmievskaya Balka Lokot Autonomy
Babi Yar Drobytsky Yar Drohobycz Kamianets-Podilskyi Lviv pogroms Mizocz Ghetto Odessa
The Black Book
Coordinates: 55°52′46″N 26°29′25″E / 55.87944°N 26.49028°E /