Shmuel Goldshmidt was born in 1916 in Riga. In 1938, he served as a soldier in the Latvian Army. In 1940, with the annexation of Latvia to the Soviet Union, Goldshmidt joined the so-called workers' guard of Riga – a body that carried out police functions. When Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941, the workers' guard retreated together with Red Army units northward, to Estonia. In Estonia, the workers' guard was disbanded, and some of its members returned to Latvia. Goldshmidt and other Jews who had served in this body could not return to their homes because Riga was already occupied by the Germans.
A group of Latvian Jews, including Goldshmidt, managed to find a place on a train that was evacuating industrial equipment and skilled workers from Estonia to Russia. This way he reached Perm (in northern Russia), where he then worked at a factory. In early 1942, he was drafted into the Red Army and was assigned to the 43rd Latvian Division. With this division, in February 1942, he was sent to the area of Staraia Russa, northwestern Russia, close to the border with Latvia. Initially, the Latvian Division was successful, but within a short time it was surrounded by the enemy. Some Latvian soldiers defected to the German side; they called on Shmuel and other Jews to join them.1 The encirclement lasted a long time, and dozens of Soviet soldiers died from starvation. Finally, the Division managed to break out and, after a short rest, return to the Staraia Russa area. There, in April 1942, Goldshmidt was seriously wounded and, after a long stay in hospital, he was released from the army due to his disability.
Shmuel Goldshmidt was awarded the Order of the Red Star. His brother David, born in 1904, was killed at Staraia Russa in August 1942. Six of Shmuel's siblings and many other relatives were killed by the Nazis in Riga.
Shmuel Goldshmidt immigrated to Israel in 1980. He died in 1997.
- 1. Lev Ovsishcher et al., Tak srazhalis' voiny-ievrei. Tel-Aviv, 1993, p.63