16 December, 2022

Commemorating mass extermination of the Jews of Liepaja in Šķēde

This year the ceremony of the Commemoration day dedicated to mass extermination of the Jews in Šķēde was organized by the Jewish Community of Liepaja on 16 December near the Memorial wall on the Jewish cemetery.

Anna Petrova, the Chairperson of the Liepaja Jewish Community addressed the attendees with her speech:

From the first days of the occupation of Liepaja by the Nazi army, many Liepaja Jewish families and their friends were completely destroyed during the Holocaust. Their names were either erased from memory, because there was no one to remember them, or remained in the memory of Holocaust survivors.

Out of 6,500+ Liepaja Jews who were killed during the Holocaust, only about 1,500 testimonies about the death of Liepaja Jews were recorded at Yad Vashem by 1998. Today, thanks to the fundamental research of Professor Edward Anders, we have a clearer idea of the scale of the tragedy of the Liepaja Jews.

About 7,100 Jews lived in Liepaja before the first deportation to Siberia on June 14, 1941. About 208 Jews fled before 22 June 1941 and most of the rest were killed during the German occupation that began on June 29, 1941.

Most of the men were shot in summer and autumn; first in Rainis park and at the lighthouse, then at the naval base, and from October 1941 in the dunes of Šķēde, north of the city. Women and children were generally not arrested until December 1941.

The ‘’Big Action’’ of extermination of Liepaja Jews took place from 15-17 December 1941. According to Nazi reports about 2,749 Jews were shot. We considere they were much more. Photographs of the execution of women, children and the elderly, taken by a security police officer were secretly copied, preserved and reproduced by the Jewish survivor David Zivcon. Thanks to these 12 preserved photographs taken on 15 December as well as the report of the historian Andrew Ezergailis, humanity learned about the ruthless massacre during the Great Action from December 15-17, 1941 in Šķēde. The killings continued at the beginning of 1942, and by July 1, 1942, the time the Liepaja ghetto was created, only 836 Jews were still alive.

Due to weather conditions, we are holding our memorial ceremony at the Memorial Wall, which was opened in 2004. It contains the names of 7060 Jews of Liepaja, of which the fate of 6760 is investigated.

Our memory of the tragic events of the Holocaust does not disappear thanks to our generation mission – remember and tell about it your children and grandchildren.

We are already 3 generations of Jewish families who keep the memory of the tragic events in Šķēde.

I would say that this is a manifestation of victory over the highest form of evil, a sad tribute to the memory that we pay to the dead people of Liepaja, our ancestors – who were denied life just because they were Jews.

 No person who fell victim to the Nazis or survived their evil should be reduced to statistics. Each of those whom we remember at this wall and innocently killed in Šķēde had their own history, their own family, their own life, which could continue and enrich not only our community, but also the city in which they were born and lived.

Today, more than 3,500 pre-war burials of Jews have been preserved here in the Jewish cemetery. But no one will come to them. Most of them do not have descendants. They were all shot in Šķēde, in Rainis Park, near the lighthouse.

Today I call on all those present to remember and do our best to protect peace, because it is so fragile! The tragedy of the Holocaust is a sad lesson of history for the whole of mankind!  Blessed be the memory of all Libauers killed during the Holocaust! “


July 21 – 23, 2022

The 11th World Reunion of Liepāja/Libau Jewry.

1. The 11th World Reunion of Liepāja/Libau Jewry was attended by several generations of Liepāja residents (Libauers, as the descendants of the  Holocaust Survivors namel themselves), Saviors of the Jews, members of the Liepaja Jewish community and their families.

2. The participants of the Reunion arrived from Israel, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, France and the USA. A significant part was represented by the descendants of Libauers from Riga and Liepaja.


3. For the first time, George Schwab, Liepaja Jewish Survivor and outstanding public person could not attend the Reunion due to his age. George is 90 years old. George Schwab, a great friend of the Jewish community and the founder of the “Liepājas ebreju mantojums” foundation, one of the initiators and organizers of the meetings of the rescued residents of Liepaja and their descendants.

But later, in the Reunion Conference  Andrejs Pildegovičs, the Ambassador of Latvia to UN, a great friend of  Georg Schwab took part.

4. The Reunion Committee: the open public foundation ‘’Liepājas ebreju mantojums’’, the Liepaja Jewish Community and the charitable foundation ‘’Uniting History’’ prepared an extensive program that included both traditional events and new ones.

5. The main theme of the 11th World Reunion of Liepāja/Libau Jewry – “Remain human in inhuman conditions” – was dedicated to the Righteous Among the Nations and all those who participated in organizing the rescue of the Jews of Liepaja during the Holocaust.

Reunion Day 1.

6. On Thursday, July 21 in the evening, the founders of the ‘’Liepājas ebreju mantojums’’ foundation Selvin Haas, Sergej Zaharjin and the director of the foundation Ilana Ivanova welcomed the participants of the Reunion and announced its opening.

7. The Mayor of Liepāja Gunārs Ansiņš, in his address to the Reunion participants expressed his appreciation of the Foundation’s work. After all, the Foundation adopted a long term tradition of Holocaust survivors to meet regularly in Liepaja. But now the Reunion has been undertaken by the after-war generation and the grandchildren of the survivors of Liepaja.

8. The presence of the  Israeli Ambassador to Latvia Sharon Rappaport-Palgi, honorary guest of the Reunion, emphasizes the inseparable connection of Liepāja Jews with the state of Israel, in the creation of which many Liepāja Jewish residents took part – both those who left for Israel before the war, and those who, having survived the horrors of the Holocaust, moved to their ethnic homeland.

9. One of the traditional events of the Reunion is the lighting of the Menorah. The first candle in memory of six million Jews, victims of the Holocaust, was lit by the Ambassador of Israel. The second candle – in memory of all the Saviors of the Jews of Liepaja and the Liepaja region – was lit by the Mayor of the city, Gunārs Ansiņš. The third candle was lit by Mery Boyar, one of the few Liepāja Jewish children who survived the Holocaust to commemorate all Liepāja residents who survived the horrors of the Shoah. The remaining four candles were lit by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Liepāja survivors of the Holocaust.

10. The traditional lighting of menorah candles on the opening day of the Reunion is a tribute to the memory and respect for all Liepāja Jews, it is a tribute to the memory of the Saviors of the Jews, thanks to whom the Jewish community is alive and has a future.

Reunion Day 2.

11. Another tradition of the Reunion is a reception hosted by the Municipality leaders of Liepāja. On the Reunion second day the participants were invited to the Liepāja Vice Mayor Atis Deksnis. The Director of the Liepāja development department Mārtiņš Ābols showed a presentation on the development of the city and its perspectives for the future. The participants of the meeting asked questions and it was clear that they were very much interested in Liepāja and the future of the city.

12. Not less important tradition of the Reunions is visiting memorial sites. This year, 50 participants of the Reunion were offered to take a “Memorial Bus Tour”. This tour is a tribute to the Holocaust victims who lived in Liepaja and those fearless inhabitants of Liepaja and Kurzeme who hid the Jews and thereby saved them from inevitable death. The tour guides were Diana Golovanova and Ilana Ivanova.

13. Participants of the “Bus memorial Tour” visited a memorial sign on the site of the former Liepaja Great Choral Synagogue at Kungu 11/13, read Kadesh at the Memorial Wall at the Jewish cemetery and at the restored monument to Jewish soldiers who died near Liepāja in the Latvian War of Independence. Ilya Lensky, director of the museum “Jews in Latvia”, who participated in this trip, told the story of the creation of the monument and acquainted the participants of the Reunion with the history of the Liepāja Society of Jews – Veterans of the Latvian War of Independence.

14. The next stop on the route was the Alley of the Righteous Among the Nations in the Memorial Complex in Šķēde. Visitors of the Memorial Complex  will never pass by 27 steles with the names of the Righteous Among the Nations. “Without the feat of these courageous people and 17 others who helped organize this rescue, there would be neither those who arrived to the Reunion, nor the current Jewish community itself. And most importantly, there would be no evidence of the total extermination of the Jews of Liepāja and the Liepāja region during the war,” said Ilana Ivanova/Zivcon, daughter of David and Henny Zivcon, rescued by Robert and Johanna Seduls, addressing the participants of the Reunion.

15. Further, Maya Meijere-Oše, researcher, historian of the Žanis Lipke Museum, spoke briefly about what the Saviors were guided by when, risking their own lives and the lives of their loved ones, they saved the Jews.

16. Passing by the steles with the names of the Righteous Gentiles, the young generation of the Jewish Community laid flowers at each of them and pronounced the names of the heroes.

17. Memorial to the Jews of Liepaja – Victims of the Holocaust – the main memorial construction to the tragedy of the Jews of Liepāja – today is known to the whole world. I. Ivanova told how the Jews of Liepāja were exterminated, about the largest action in Šķēde and the evidence of this crime. 18. At the end of the commemorative ceremony, Eduard Kaplan and a Liepāja descendant Zalman Deift from Germany read Kadesh.

19. 11 years ago, during the ceremony in Šķēde during the Reunion a new initiative was supported by the Reunion participants – the “Action of Unity” . During it all participants of the Reunion gathered in front of the Memorial held hands tightly and formed a circle. Thus, the Liepāja jewish Survivors, their children and grandchildren, guests and friends of the Jewish community demonstrated their unity of the present with the past facing the future of Jewish life in Liepāja. They inherited it and cherish it, the memory of it gives strength to prevent anyone from such a horror that our families and friends had to endure. In 2022, this “Action of Unity” also took place. It was a moving and unforgettable activity that passed in silence with tears in the eyes.

20. The next stop was in Roņu Street at the memorial plaque, commemorating Liepāja Jews killed near the lighthouse during the first days of Nazi occupation. I. Ivanova reminded those present that the first executions in Liepāja in the summer of 1941 were carried out not only in Rainis Park, but also near the lighthouse on the territory of the fish factory. Then more than 1,300 Jews were shot, mostly men aged 16-60. Reunion guest, a historian Ilya Lensky shared information about the research that began this summer. He spoke about identifying the locations of mass graves. This information aroused great interest among those present. Questions were asked about new methods of non-invasive research and about the so-called archeology of the Holocaust.

21. During the “Bus Memorial Tour”, the guide ( Ilana Ivanova) shared previously unknown facts from the history of the Holocaust in Liepaja, in particular, about the Liepaja Ghetto and Rainis Park, where the first executions of Jews took place.

22. On Friday evening, the Reunion participants and honorable guests r gathered in the Jacob Hall of Amrita Hotel for a gala dinner and a concert. The Soprano opera diva Sonora Vaice, known far beyond the borders of Latvia, accompanied by the quartet of the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, performed songs in Yiddish and Hebrew, which demonstrated the versatility and great talent of the performers.

Reunion Day 3.

23. Even during the Reunion, none of the participants in the readings of the Shabbat Torah chapters missed classes on Saturday morning, which traditionally ended with a joint Shabbat meal.

In the afternoon, the official program of the Reunion ended with a conference and a panel discussion on the topic “Remain human in inhuman conditions.”

24. Rozalia Suharj, researcher of the “Liepājas ebreju mantojums” foundation, in her introductory speech spoke about the status of the Righteous Among the Nations, that explaines to whom, and what for that honorary title was awarded.

25. One of the main lecturers of the conference, the director of the museum “Jews in Latvia” Ilya Lensky, presented a little-known story about the savior of the Jews, a Latvia born Swedish entrepreneur, a Jew, Hillel Storch.

26. Museum educator, researcher and tour guide of the Žanis Lipke Memorial Museum Maija Meijere-Oša spoke about the great work that is being carried out as part of the study of little-known facts about the salvation of Jews. Thanks to Maija’s efforts, during the conference, it was possible to  find out the fate of one of the rescued young people, who turned out to be the uncle of the Reunion participant, a Libauer, Zalman Deift from Germany.

27. A new topic for the conference participants was the lecture about  Jewish doctors of Liepaja during the Holocaust, presented by Mārtiņš Vesperis, Master of History of the Paul Stradiņš  Museum of the History of Medicine.. The researcher spoke about doctors from Liepaja, many of whom were well known to the participants. Each of the lectures was accompanied by a discussion during which some historical facts were clarified and new ones were discovered.

28. A pleasant surprise for the audience was the speech of Andrejs Pildegovics, the Ambassador of Latvia to the UN, a professional diplomat, who briefed the Reunion participants about the situation in the world. He paid special attention to the issue of the war in Ukraine, which creates special feelings and associations for us. The ambassador noted that it is necessary to do everything possible to stop this war.

29. Among the honored guests and participants of the Reunion, Mery Boyar, a Holocaust child survivor, received special attention, admiration and respect. At her venerable 90 years old, she could not miss this important traditional event and flew in from Israel with her daughter Bella. Despite the fact that during the war years she was still a child, Mery still carefully keeps warm memories of her beloved Liepaja in her heart. She shared them with the participants of the Reunion and the leadership of the city – and in pure Latvian. She kept repeating: “Mana mīļā Liepāja”. Such devotion and love for her childhood city, despite the fact that Mery’s entire family was killed in Liepaja and she was left all alone, are worth a lot.


June 13, 2022

A movable exhibition “Remember – ReAct. Holocaust remembrance and the combating anti-Semitism in Sweden’’ was opened in the Liepaja Jewish Community Assembly Hall. The opening ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of Sweden to Latvia Karin Hōglund.


The Ambassador noted that in 1998, on the basis of the Declaration of the Stockholm International Holocaust Forum, Sweden initiated the creation of an intergovernmental organization – the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Until now, it is the only organization that deals with the memory of the Holocaust at the governmental level.

Issues of historical memory of the Holocaust, human rights, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism were on the agenda of the International Forum for the Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust and the fight against anti-Semitism, which took place in the Swedish city of Malmö on October 13, 2021. It was attended by the leaders of 50 countries, including the President of Latvia, Egil Levits.

One of the outcomes of the forum was this exhibition, prepared by the Swedish Institute (Svenska Institutet), translated into Latvian by the staff of the museum “Jews in Latvia” with the support of the Swedish Embassy in Latvia.

In Liepaja, the exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Liepaja Jewish Heritage Foundation, the Uniting History Foundation and the Liepaja Jewish Community.

The exhibition can be divided into two large blocks. The first demonstrates how Sweden understands the Holocaust and its relationship to human rights issues. The second – how anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia manifest themselves today, how they affect different groups of society.

The head of the museum “Jews in Latvia” Ilya Lensky spoke in detail about the content of the exhibition with a passing excursion into history. Sweden was one of those countries where there was no Holocaust, and the Jewish community was quite large. He also talked about Swedish intellectuals and diplomats who saved Jews from other countries, such as Raoul Wallenberg, Per Anger and Hillel Storch. He also noted the importance of studying the history of the Holocaust not only in Europe as a whole, but also in each individual country.

The opening ceremony of the exhibition was accompanied by a concert performed by a highly professional musical trio.

The exhibition “Remember – ReAct. Memory of the Holocaust and the fight against anti-Semitism in Sweden” was opened until July 25 at 21 Kungu St on a call in advance by tel. 29747027 or 22318588.

January 27, 2022

To mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Liepaja Jewish Heritage Foundation’s Director Ilana Ivanova organized an online meeting for the members of the Liepaja Jewish Community and Liepaja public.


The lecturer, Ilana Ivanova spoke about the less-known facts of the salvation of Jews during the Holocaust by the representatives of Royal families and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps – the Righteous Among the Nations.

January 27 is the first World Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The meeting of the General Assembly of UN, dedicated to the tragedy of the Holocaust, was held on November 1, 2005. It coincided with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945. It was estimated that about 4 million people were killed in Auschwitz during WWII.

At the opening of this meeting, the 7th UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on “current and future generations” to prevent the horrors of fascism from repeating. During the Holocaust, we honor the Allied Powers whose troops defeated Nazism and those brave souls who risked and sometimes sacrificed their lives to save other people.

 He also stressed that we must not ignore the cases of rebirth of anti-Semitism and must be prepared to act against its new forms. This is an obligation we have not only to the Jewish people, but to all others who are or may be threatened by the same fate.

We must not be indifferent to ideologies of hatred and discrimination, wherever they appear. The UN General Assembly called on Member States to develop and implement educational programs so that the lessons of the Holocaust would be forever remembered by future generations and future acts of genocide would be prevented.

Nowadays attitude to Holocaust studies in the 21st century requires serious reflection and improvement so that the facts of the Holocaust are not interpreted in the favor of political ambitions, ignorance and intolerance. Much depends on us, Jews.

When we talk about diplomats, anyone hardly thinks of them as heroes.

As said by David Lloyd George, (1863 – 1945) British politician, a close friend of Winston Churchill: Diplomat were invented just to waste time, avoid moral judgments, and never take risks. There are certain skills required to be a successful diplomat, but courage is not usually considered one of them.

To be fair, why would it?

A diplomat speaks for his government, not for himself. His job is to follow the line of the government and enforce its rules, whatever that line and those rules may be. If he has objections, he must keep them to himself. If he fails to keep them to himself, he is expected to retire. Diplomacy played a shameful role in the preparation of the Holocaust. In July 1938, faced with a growing influx of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria, diplomats from 32 countries met in Evian, France, to negotiate the strategy to the crisis. They agreed that none of them would participate in any action and would not provide assistance. The tone was set by the United States, which announced it would take in just 27,370 immigrants a year, that was also considered a current quota for Germany and Austria. Almost all countries in Europe and Latin America have followed this decision. This decision brought a clear message to Hitler: the world would do nothing to save the Jews. The majority of the diplomatic corps did nothing. When the Nazis began deporting the Jews of Austria to Dachau and Buchenwald that summer, thousands of desperate families besieged the 55 foreign consulates in Vienna in search of help. In 54 of them the doors were closed. The French refused to accept visa applications. A sign at the British consulate said that visas were not being issued. Swiss diplomats actually put a red “J” on Jewish passports to prevent them from crossing the border. They were only following orders, of course. To do otherwise would be to violate the policies of their governments and appear rebellious

2021 Annual Report