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Skede

Sketch of the Skede murder site, 1945 Sketch of the Skede murder site, 1945 GARF 7021-93-2419; copy YVA JM/21234 Jewish women and children from Liepaja stand on the edge of a pit before being murdered, December 15, 1941 Jewish women and children from Liepaja stand on the edge of a pit before being murdered, December 15, 1941 YVA, Photo Collection 1979/5 A Latvian policeman known as a 'kicker' walks along the edge of a mass grave filled with the bodies of women and children who had just been shot, December 15-17, 1941. It was the kicker's job to push in the bodies that did not fall into the mass grave during the shooting. A Latvian policeman known as a 'kicker' walks along the edge of a mass grave filled with the bodies of women and children who had just been shot, December 15-17, 1941. It was the kicker's job to push in the bodies that did not fall into the mass grave during the shooting. YVA, Photo Collection 85EO6

The murders in the dunes at Skede on the Baltic shore, some fifteen kilometers north of the city and about a kilometer from the road towards the sea, began as early as July 1941. Some 200 Jews were murdered there.
During a three-day massacre on December 15-17, 1941, German and Latvian units killed 2,749 Jews, more than half of Liepaja’s Jewish population. Preparations for the operation began some days before. On December 13, 1941, Liepaja Police Chief Obersturmbannfuehrer Fritz Diedrich placed an announcement in the Latvian newspaper Kurzemes Vards stating that Jews were forbidden to leave their living quarters on Monday, December 15, and Tuesday, December 16.
On the night of December 13, Latvian police forces began to arrest Liepaja’s Jews not yet concentrated in the ghetto. The victims were brought to the Women’s Prison, where Jews of all ages were crammed into the courtyard. The Jews were ordered to stand with their faces towards the wall, and warned not to move or look around for relatives or at the watchmen. Some were transported to Skede on the evening of the following day and crowded into a barn (a wooden structure, described also as a garage).
In the early morning of December 15, a column of victims was driven from Liepaja by Latvian policemen, under the supervision of the German SD, to the same barn in Skede where Jews from the prison had been taken. They were taken in groups of twenty to a site forty to fifty meters from a deep ditch dug in the dunes nearby, parallel to the shore. The ditch was about three meters wide and 100 meters long. There they were forced to lie face down on the ground. Groups of ten were then ordered to stand up and, apart from the children, to undress, at first to their underwear and then, when taken near the ditch, completely. They were shot by a German unit, the Latvian SD Platoon headed by Lt. Peteris Galins, and a Latvian Schutzmannschaften team.
During the murder operation, the Jews were placed along the side of the ditch nearest the sea, facing the water. The killing squad was positioned across the ditch, with two marksmen shooting at the same victim. Children who could walk were treated as adults, but babies were held by their mothers and killed with them. A “kicker” rolled in those corpses that did not fall directly into the ditch. After each volley, a German SD man stepped into the ditch to inspect the bodies and finish off anyone who showed signs of life.
The clothes were piled up in heaps and taken away by German military trucks. During the murder operation, Strott and another officer, Erich Handke, took pictures with a Minox, and senior Wehrmacht and navy officers visited the site.
The murder operations in Skede continued until December 1942. On February 15, 1942, the Germans planned to murder 500 Jews in Skede. However, on the way to the murder site a group of 22 Jews pounced on the drunken Latvian guards and managed to escape.
In 1943, chlorine was poured over the corpses.
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Abram Fleishman was born in 1925 in Liepaja, and lived there during the war years.
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(Interview in Russian)
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Abram Fleishman was born in 1925 in Liepaja, and lived there during the war years.
(Interview in Russian)
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