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Rēzekne

Rēzekne, Rēzekne County, Latgale District, Latvia

To enlarge the map click here The Green Synagogue in Rēzekne The Green Synagogue in Rēzekne YVA, Photo Collection 8413/21

The Jewish community of Rēzekne (called Rezhitsa until 1917) dated from the end of the 18th century.
During the period of the independent Latvian republic (1919-1940), several Jewish schools with different political and cultural affiliations operated in Rēzekne. In 1935 3,342 Jews lived in Rēzekne, comprising approximately 25 percent of the town’s population.
After the Soviet occupation of Latvia in June 1940, all private enterprises were nationalized and Jewish community institutions were closed. Some Rēzekne Jews were arrested during the night of June 14-15, 1941 and exiled to locations deep within the Soviet Union.
During the first week of the German-Soviet war the old border between Latvia and Russia was closed for everyone except Soviet workers and their families. Nevertheless, many Rēzekne Jews who had fled from the town gathered in the frontier area until the border was opened again on July 4. Many Rēzekne Jews managed to flee into the Soviet interior.
The Germans occupied Rēzekne on July 3, 1941 and, with the assistance of Latvian collaborators, began murdering Jews almost immediately. On July 4 the Germans ordered all Jewish men from the age of 18 to 60 to assemble on the market square. Latvian policemen rounded them up and took them to the local prison. On July 8 the town’s Jews were ordered to wear a yellow badge and banned from walking on the town's sidewalks and from wearing hats. On July 9 (according other sources, July 5), about 30 able-bodied young men were sent to the NKVD building and were murdered after being subjected to public humiliation. On August 3 the women, children, and elderly were rounded up and taken to the same prison, with the exception of women with little children, who were moved to ”the old prison.” Most Rēzekne Jews were killed by the Germans between July and November of 1941 with the active assistance of Latvian policemen, including the Arājs Kommando, in three main locations in the vicinity of the town: the Jewish cemetery, Leščinska Park, and the Ančupānu Hills. Several dozen Jewish craftsmen were forced to work until they were killed in the autumn of 1943. Only three people from the entire Rēzekne Jewish community survived – the child Motya Tager, 57-year Chaim Izraelit, and his teenage nephew Yakov Izraelit.
The Red Army liberated Rēzekne on July 27, 1944.