Rumbula commemoration to take place in private this year

30 November marks the 79th anniversary of the biggest mass murder of civilians in the history of Latvia when thousands of Latvian Jews were killed in the Rumbula forest near Riga in a two-day Holocaust atrocity of unimaginable brutality.

While commemorations at the Freedom Monument in the center of Rīga have attracted considerable numbers of attendees in recent years, since they were launched in 2016, this year the civic initiative ‘Rumbula – 79. We Remember. It Hurts’ calls on Rigans and others to commemorate the tragic events by lighting candles at their own houses or Rumbula forest. 

“There are no speeches and no official photographs by the Freedom Monument. Every year we just lay the candlelit paths, in silence, to remember the 25 000 lives lost and to prevent such tragedies repeating in the future. This is a story of the whole Latvia, not just of the Jewish community,” said Lolita Tomsone, one of the organizers of the commemorative event.

This year though there will be no gathering at the Freedom Monument due to the pandemic, though there will be an official event at Rumbula forest itself attended by dignitaries and representatives of the Jewish community.

Among the attendees there will be Defense Minister and historian Artis Pabriks who said: ""Although Latvia was under occupation in 1941, this does not change the fact that atrocities against the Jewish people were also committed on our land. The memory of these victims is our shared responsibility as a human rights-based society. Our task is also to guarantee that such crimes against humanity will not happen again.”

For more information, visit the Facebook page of ‘Rumbula – 79’.

The Occupation Museum has this excellent historical account of the events that led to the Rumbula massacre and the lengthy historical aftermath.   

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