One of the darkest days in Latvian history is commemorated on July 4: Jewish genocide memorial day.
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.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs provided an early reminder of the occasion: “Latvia mourns tens of thousands of Jews that have been murdered by Nazis and their collaborators in 1941, Holocaust is a stark reminder that dictators who are not stopped and defetead immeadiately, hate speech and totalitarian ideologies form the basis for such horrific crimes”.
The day will be marked by numerous remembrance events, including at the site of the former Great Choral Synagogue in Rīga, scene of one of the most appalling atrocities of all.
President Egils Levits, himself of partly Jewish heritage, will lay flowers at the memorial.
Rīga mayor Martiņš Staķis also drew attention to the day’s importance on social media, saying “The remembrance of the Holocaust in Rīga is getting stronger every year”.
In Cēsis, a new series of environmental sculptures is due to be unveiled commemorating the city’s former Jewish community of around 200, which was completely destroyed by Nazi occupation.
A specially created map of the city will help people discover the locations of the sculptures at what were formerly Jewish households in Cēsis.