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Visiting Info
Opening Hours:

Sunday to Thursday: ‬09:00-17:00

Fridays and Holiday eves: ‬09:00-14:00

Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays and all Jewish Holidays.

Entrance to the Holocaust History Museum is not permitted for children under the age of 10. Babies in strollers or carriers will not be permitted to enter.

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The History of the Liepāja Jewish Community

Liepāja, in the Courland region of Latvia, is a port city on the Baltic coast. A Jewish community was established in Liepāja in the early 1800s, and by the end of the century there were some 9,400 Jews living in the city, about one-seventh of the city's population.

At the beginning of the 20th century, approximately one-quarter of the Jewish population of Liepāja emigrated from the city, some due to difficulties during World War I and some, influenced by the newly emerging Zionism, who immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine).

In 1940, the Soviets occupied Liepāja. In July 1941, shortly after the beginning of the German occupation, the Germans and Latvians began to murder the Jews of the city. That month, some 1,000 Jewish residents of Liepāja were shot to death, most of them men. In September and October, hundreds more were killed. During one three-day stretch in December, another 2,800 Jews were shot – most of them women and children – such that by the end of 1941 the Jewish community of Liepāja numbered less than one thousand. In mid-1942, these Jews were confined in the ghetto set up in the city.

In October 1943, approximately half of the Jews in the Liepāja ghetto were deported to the Kaiserwald concentration camp, close to Riga. The rest were sent to the Riga ghetto, and a month later to Auschwitz.

With the entry of the Red Army into Liepāja on 9 May 1945, only a few dozen Jews were found in the city. According to the most recent data, there are several hundred Jews living in Liepāja today – Holocaust survivors, their descendants and immigrants from the FSU.

The Liepāja Jewish Community until World War I

The Liepāja Jewish Community until World War I

Jews first came to Liepāja in the 13th century, but were not allowed to settle there. In 1799, a number of Jews were given permission to live in the city as a result of a special request by Christian merchants, in order to encourage trade. A "moreh tzedek" (auxiliary rabbi) began to work in the city, answering questions of Jewish law, and a number of social and religious institutions were established there, including a synagogue.
The main street in Liepāja before World War II

The Liepāja Jewish Community in the Interwar Years

With the establishment of independent Latvia after World War I, trade connections with Russia were affected, and the economic activities of the Jews subsequently curtailed. The 7,000 Jews made up some thirteen percent of the population, but owned about forty percent of the large and medium-sized businesses in the city, including the Bank of Liepāja, as well as enterprises in the areas of food and textiles, wood and wooden products, building works and furniture manufacture. All of the doctors, and most of the dentists, in the city were Jewish.
The Jews of Liepāja during the Soviet Occupation

The Jews of Liepāja during the Soviet Occupation

In August 1940, Latvia was annexed to the USSR. Liepāja became one of the most important Baltic ports; thousands of Soviet troops and their families settled in the city, improving its economic situation. Before the Soviet occupation, during the leadership of the Ulmanis nationalists in Latvia, jobs in government factories and public offices had been closed to Jews. Now the Jewish residents could work in these positions, including in the city's bank and the municipal culture and health departments. Jews could also join the army and police force, and study at universities and other institutions...
Jews from Liepāja on the dunes of the fishing village of Šķēde, north of Liepāja, where they were murdered, 15-17 December 1941.

The German Occupation and the First Aktionen in Liepāja

On the first day of their invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the Germans bombed Liepāja. With the offensive, many residents of the city, including Jews, were conscripted to the Red Army, and others were sent to their places of work, public services and factory labor. The men were forbidden from leaving the city. During the following week, the city became a battlefield. Dozens of Jews were among the combat victims. On 29 June 1941, the Germans occupied Liepāja and began carrying out political arrests and murders with the collaboration of the Latvian "Self-Defense"...
Kalman Linkimer (right) and Joseph Mandelshtam, who were hidden in the home of Righteous Among the Nations Robert Seduls and his wife Johanna with another nine Jews, from the liquidation of the Liepāja ghetto in October 1943 until liberation.

The Establishment of the Ghetto in Liepāja and the Liquidation of the Jewish Community

In May 1942, an order was issued to establish a ghetto in Liepāja; on 1 July 1942, the remaining Jews in the city, some 830 people, were ordered to move into the ghetto within ten days. A month later, the ghetto was closed off with barbed wire. Jewish wives of Latvian men wishing to continue to live with their husbands outside of the ghetto were made to undergo sterilization; ultimately they, too, were forced into the ghetto. Other mixed couples were separated from each other under threat, with the Jewish partner taken to the ghetto.