Members of the Latvian parliament, rabbis and community leaders, heads of Jewish organisations and diplomats attended a ceremony on Thursday marking 75 years since the mass murder of Latvian Jewry which took place in the Rumbula forest near the Latvian capital of Riga, during which 25,000 Jewish residents of the town were murdered.
Latvian president Raimonds Vejonis, who was the main speaker at the ceremony, referred to the dark chapter in Latvian history and said that “today, we have gathered to revere the memory of 25,000 Jews who were murdered with great cruelty in an act coordinated by the Nazis. Unfortunately, some local elements also participated in the murders.”
Referring to the bloody events, Vejonis said that “The winter days in Latvia are short and it is incomprehensible how in just two days of cold, calculated murder, the same number of people as those living in an average Latvian town were murdered.”
Vejonis added that “for many years these tragic events in the history of Latvia were suppressed. During the days of Soviet occupation, Jewish community representatives just managed to place a sign at the site with the caption ‘In memory of the victims of fascism’.”
Vejonis also related to the present situation of Latvian Jewry, which numbers thousands of people, according to estimates. He said that “despite the terrible persecutions and loss of lives, the Jewish community in Latvia has risen from the dead, and now I see a growth in their communal, religious and cultural development. This strengthens Latvia.”
The Latvian Jewish community, which numbered over 60,000 Jews before the Second World War, was practically obliterated over the course of the Holocaust.