Latvia Jewish cemeteries #latvia


Barbara Hemmendinger
 

I, too, visited the Jewish cemetery in Liepaja (formerly Libau),
Latvia last year. While some 135 miles west of Riga, the Liepaja
Jewish cemetery contains many graves with Hebrew and German
inscriptions, which are listed on websites like JewishGen and in
JOWBR. In Riga itself, the main Jewish cemetery was used as a
mass burial site by the Nazis and desecrated by the Soviets. I
quote below >from the inscription at the entrance to the former
Old Jewish Cemetery in Riga on a monument erected in 2011 by the
U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Jewish Heritage
Abroad in cooperation with the Council of Jewish Communities in
Latvia:

"This is Riga's first Jewish cemetery. It was opened in 1725 and
burials continued here until the late 1930s. After German forces
occupied Riga in 1941, the prayer house and the mortuary were
burned down. The cemetery became a mass burial site for over 1,000
Jews killed in the streets and houses of the Riga Ghetto. Following
World War Two, many of the cemetery's tombstones were removed and
used as building material. Others deteriorated. The wall
surrounding the cemetery collapsed, and the site left uncared for
fell into disrepair. In the 1960s, the site was razed and renamed
"The Park of the Communist Brigades." In 1992, the park was renamed
"The Old Jewish Cemetery."

Barbara Hemmendinger

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