The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum

Posted by Ann Rabinowitz
Rabbi Menachem Barkahan and Riga Mayor Nil Ushakov visiting the Museum

The other day I received a message from the Chairman of the Board of the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum. He provided a link to the ever-expanding web site for the Museum which opened on September 21, 2010, and is undergoing further reconstruction.

The Museum has outdoor plaques or walls with the names of 70,000 local Jews and an additional 20,000 from other places that were executed in Latvia during World War II. Recently, the Mayor of Riga, Nil Ushakov, visited the Museum for the first time. This is seen on Museum’s website.

The website is filled with important information, especially searchable databases with names of those who perished in the Holocaust. If you look at the right side of the front page of the site, you will see the two databases which are available. If you click on the links you will see ENTER DB in the center of the page and you should click on that to view the data:
  • Jewish children faced the Holocaust in Latvia - This database provides the headings such as Family name, Given Name, Father, Mother, Place of Birth, Prewar residence, War residence, Gender Fate, Place of death, BY (Birth Year), BM (Birth Month), BD (Birth Day), DY (Death Year), DM (Death Month) and DD (Death Day).
You can click on a particular name in the database as I did for my family named BDIL and a window will open up. It is divided in half with the top half which states:
  • Information about: Anatoly Bdil, Gender: Male, Life period: 18.8.1940 (Riga) – xx.xx.1941 (Riga, Rumbula), Prewar residence: Riga, War residence: Riga, Fate: Ghetto, killed.
Then the bottom half of the window states:
  • Family members of: Father: Aron, Mother: Anna.
Both databases are a goldmine of information for the Latvian Jewry researcher and those who are particularly interested in the Holocaust.

In addition, the Museum web site has several videos which are interesting to watch. They show the nature of the Museum and all about the opening as well as what the area looked like originally.

A Diagram of the Museum

It details what work had to take place to prepare it for the new activities. Despite the fact that these are not in English, one can gain an idea of what they are saying by watching closely.

The site also includes two memoirs of the Holocaust survivors Dr. Tevel Glezer and Meier Levenshtein. However, both are not in English and it would be great if these were translated and put online.

In addition to the material on the Museum site, there is a link to the official Shamir Jewish Religious Community site, which one can read in Latvian, Russian, English, and Hebrew. This site has much about the Latvian community of yesteryear as well as today and is a good resource for Latvian Jewish researchers.

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