Jewish genocide memorial day marked in Latvia

One of the darkest periods in Latvia's history was commemorated July 4 at an annual ceremony held at the site of one of pre-war Rīga's synagogues.

The Nazi occupation of Latvia brought the atrocities of the holocaust with it. The first mass murders of Jews began in 1941 with the largest actions taking place in Riga, Daugavpils, and Liepāja, as well as in other smaller towns.

President Raimonds Vējonis, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Saeima speaker Ināra Murniece were among those in attendance at the ceremony alongside foreign ambassadors and others. 

Kariņš said "We must never allow these dark events from history to recur," a sentiment echoed by Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on social media, too. 

More information about those horrific events can be read at the website of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia which says

"The first mass murders of Latvian Jews started in July and continued until September. Groups of Jews were ordered to be shot in Riga, Daugavpils and in many smaller towns. Recent research shows that all these actions were organised by the German authorities but usually carried out by Latvian auxiliaries without direct German involvement.

"In September, the remaining Jews in Riga were herded into a fenced-in ghetto in the city's Moscow Suburb and forcibly kept there under guard.

"From the Riga Ghetto, under the direct supervision of Friedrich Jeckeln, about 25,000 Jews were driven on foot to Rumbula Forest, on the outskirts of Riga, and murdered there in two operations— on 30 November and 8 December 1941. Latvians performed guard duties; Jeckeln's SS men shot the victims."

"About 3000 Jews from Liepāja were murdered between 15 and 17 December. This was practically the end of the mass annihilation of approximately 70,000 Latvian Jews."

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