ABOUT THE PROJECT

CENTRE FOR JUDAIC STUDIES
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LATVIA


SCIENTIFIC PROJECT
COORDINATORS


PROJECT SPONSORS

SUPPORTED BY

METHODOLOGY

LIEPAJA PROJECT: JEWS IN LIEPAJA,
LATVIA 1941-1945


SEARCHING THE DATABASE

SURNAMES

SOURCES

CONTACT INFORMATION

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ABOUT THE PROJECT

The 1935 Latvian census identified 93,479 Jews living in Latvia. It is estimated by the leading Holocaust researchers that about 70,000 Latvian Jews perished in the Holocaust. The totality and speed with which this mass murder was achieved meant that many families were completely destroyed with no one left to mourn or even inquire about the dead. As a result, disturbingly few of those killed have been identified. The purpose of the Latvia Holocaust Jewish Names Project is to recover the names and identities of these members of the Latvian Jewish Community who perished and to ensure that their memory is preserved.

In 2001 The Latvian Names Project was elaborated and presented to the then President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia and several international organizations.

The project was launched in 2002 as an independent Research Project of the Centre for Judaic Studies of the University of Latvia under the leadership of the Professor, Head of the Board of the Centre for Judaic Studies Ruvin Ferber.


SCIENTIFIC PROJECT
COORDINATORS

Professor Ruvin Ferber
Chairman and Project Leader
Professor, University of Latvia, Head of the Board of the Centre for Judaic Studies

Professor Aivars Stranga
Professor, University of Latvia, Head of the Department of Latvian History

Irina Veinberga
Chief Archivist, Department Head, Latvian State Historical Archives
Methodology and Data Analysis

Constance Whippman (UK)
Advocate, United Kingdom; former Co-ordinator, All-Latvia Database, and Member of Steering
Committee, Courland Research Group (both JewishGen)


PROJECT SPONSORS


Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyr's and Heroes
Remembrance Authority


Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education,
Remembrance and Research


Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against
Germany, Inc. (Claims Conference)


The University of Latvia


U.S. Embassy in Latvia

Latvian Council of Jewish Communities

Riga Jewish Religious Community

Constance Whippman (UK)
Advocate; former Co-ordinator, All-Latvia Database,
Member of Steering Committee, Courland Research Group (both JewishGen)

Arlene Beare (UK)
Former Chairman of the JGSGB Latvian Special Interest Group
and former President of JewishGen Latvia SIG,
Latvia SIG's Co-ordinator of the JewishGen All-Latvia Database

Latvia Special Interest Group of Jewish Genealogy

Henry Blumberg
President of the Latvia Special Interest Group
Barrister in Toronto. Ancestors from Grobina and Liepaja

Abraham Lenhoff (U.S.)
Professor, University of Delaware
Webmaster of the Courland SIG webpage

Eric Benjaminson
U.S. Diplomatic Service, descendant of Jews from Kuldiga, Liepaja and Riga


SUPPORTED BY

Edward Anders (U.S.)
Professor, University of Chicago Author of the Project
Jews in Liepaja, Latvia 1941-1945

Arkady Sukharenko
Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia

Vitaly Gotlib
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
of Latvian Council of Jewish Communities

Elie Valk
President of the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel

Shlomo Kurlandchik

Archivist, Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel

Gita Umanovska
Executive Director of the Riga Jewish Community

Margers Vestermanis
Director of the Museum „Jews in Latvia”

Dr. Martha Levinson Lev-Zion (Israel)
President, IGS-Negev; former President, Latvia SIG; Member of Steering Committee,
Courland Research Group (JewishGen)

Mike Getz
Former President and Founder, Latvia SIG JewishGen

Aina Antane
Former Executive Director of the Centre for Judaic Studies
of the University of Latvia

Alda Brazhune
Project Co-ordinator
Centre for Judaic Studies of the University of Latvia

Valts Apinis
Executive Director of the Centre for Judaic Studies of the University of Latvia


METHODOLOGY

This project is the attempt to investigate, identify and record the fate of Latvian Jewry in the Holocaust and in Holocaust related events.

The project is divided into three stages.

1st stage is to create a list of the names of the Latvian Jewish community other than Liepaja, (see The Project Jews in Liepaja, Latvia 1941-1945) on the eve of the war, using a wide range of archival sources both in Latvia and abroad. The 1935 census forms the basis of the list which can be corroborated by a variety of pre-war material including inhabitants lists of 1939-1940, house lists, passports, business directories and records, birth, marriage and death records for 1935-1941 which will supplement the list with persons born at that time and will allow the exclusion from the list of persons who died during this period of time.

2nd stage is to identify each member of a community a) on the basis of documents of the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating the Crimes Committed by the German-Fascist Invaders and Their Accomplices - these documents in microfilms are held in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Institute of Yad Vashem, b) The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, c) documents of the concentration camps Kaiserwald, Buchenwald etc, and also materials of the Museum “Jews in Latvia”.

The lists of deportees on June 14, 1941 issued by the Latvian State Archives and also the lists of evacuated families (part of the list is accessible on the webpage of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington) enable the exclusion of these Jews from the number of victims of the Holocaust.

The interest in Holocaust studies has increased since Latvia got independence and the articles of leading researchers in the editions of the Commission of Historians for 2003-2006 are the best testimonies to that fact. A significant contribution to establishing the fate of the Jews during the war was the persistent work of some local history researchers who compiled detailed lists of Jews who had perished in the Holocaust in some small villages. Many memoirs of Shoah survivors were published during the past few years. These are all extremely valuable sources used working on the project.

The approach developed in the Project of Professor Edward Anders of those who were living in Latvia in 1940-1941 but who cannot be traced as survivors or have not previously been recorded as victims and are likely to have been potential victims of the Holocaust, can be considered as the „indirect” approach which is complementary to the „direct” approach in identifying victims of the Holocaust. The disadvantage of the „indirect” method is that it will inevitably include some of the living among the dead, e.g., refugees who fled to the USSR, prisoners omitted from the camp records, etc.

3rd stage gives the survivors an opportunity to examine the list and submit reliable information about the fate of their relatives and friends during the war.


SEARCHING THE DATABASE

The search enables one to find persons according to their Family names and Prewar residence. As family names are written in different sources in Latvian, Russian, German and English we chose the German version of them. To make the search easier, all family names are listed in a special register. When you find the family name you are looking for, click on it to get into the search engine. Now you have only to choose the place of residence from the list of towns and villages. If the village where the family lived is not known you choose the variant „whatever” in the region column Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme, Zemgale.

Given names

The given names are given according to German spelling, e.g., Zalman=Salman, Yacob=Jacob, Ber=Behr, etc. If you do not put the given name into the search engine, you will get a list of all persons with the same family name living in a particular place. The list is sorted in the alphabetical order of given names. You will also get a list of all women whose maiden name matches the name you selected.

Dates of birth

These dates are taken from official sources - birth records, passports, passport books. They differ considerably from the data in The Central Database of Shoah Victims Names and documents of the Extraordinary Commission, therefore other criteria should be used to identify the person - name, the patronymics, place of birth etc. If two dates of birth are known - according to the Julian and Gregorian calendars, the Gregorian calendar is used (new-style).

Place of birth

The birth place for persons born before 1918-1919 is stated according to the historical name: Rezhitsa, Lutzin, Dunaburg, Dvinsk, and after 1919 - according to the modern name. The date 1919 is very approximate as the renaming of towns was completed by that time but the exact date for each place was intentionally not specified. If the historical name of a place did not differ phonetically from the new one, we have left only the new name for each period of time, e.g. Preili, Griva, Piltene etc.

Date of death

For the majority of Latvian Jews the date of death is 1941. The extermination of the Jewish population in small villages and towns was finished in Summer - Fall of 1941. Since the documents of the Extraordinary Commission show dates of death which differ considerably from the dates established by the Holocaust researchers, we prefer to state only the year. If the date of death coincides with the date of the mass murder of Jews, it is detailed.

The date 1941 for Riga means the person was killed during one of the actions on November 30th or December 8th. If there is no documentary proof, only the year is stated. If the date of death as documented in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Victims Database does not conform to historical facts e.g. if they state 1939 for Riga and 1943 for small places where it is known that the Jewish population was already eliminated by Autumn of 1941 then the date of death is designated “1941?”

Place of death
War residence

The place of death in most cases is the same as the place of the prewar and war residence of the person. Some of the Jewish inhabitants of the Daugavpils district came to the Daugavpils ghetto, families fled from Bauska and Tukums to Riga which became the place where they were killed. However the documents of the Extraordinary Commission do not take this into consideration since they were compiled on the grounds of testimony and recollection containing some inaccuracy in indicating the place of death.

Prewar residence

The documentarily proven place of residence is stated. There may be additional places and the search is enabled by each of them. If the persons lived in small villages, the word village - „pag.” is indicated only in those cases where the name of the village is identical to the name of town, e.g., Krustpils and Krustpils pag., Grobiòa and Grobiòas pag. The district where the place was situated is not stated.

Fate in 1941-1945

Deported- deported on June 14, 1941.

Killed - if the documentary source confirming this fact is available.

Killed? - probably killed. This term is used when the evidence is less strong.

Committed suicide - the way it was done is not disclosed.

Fled - fled to USSR after start of war.

Fled? - probably fled to USSR

Ghetto - was in the ghetto. If the war residence was Riga and ghetto is stated in the column „Fate”, it means the person was in the Riga ghetto. If the war residence was Daugavpils and ghetto is stated in the column „Fate”, it means the Daugavpils ghetto. If the war residence did not coincide with the place of the ghetto, it is stated in which ghetto the person was interred, e.g. the prewar and war residence was Kraslava but the person was in the Daugavpils ghetto.

Ghetto? - probably was in the ghetto.

Hidden - went into hiding or was hidden by somebody.

Red Army - fought in the Red Army, which in many cases meant fled to USSR and participated in warfare basically in the Latvian Division.

Kaiserwald, Stutthof, Buchenwald etc. - was in one or more of these camps.

Survived - if the documentarily or personal evidence is available.

Survived? - probably survived. If the information is contradictory and not proven documentarily.

Torfwerk - worked at the peat factory and was still alive in 1942-1943.

Comments

The dates 1942-1944 are noted here for people who were in the Daugavpils ghetto or the Riga ghetto and who worked in peat factories (Torfwerk) whilst still being prisoners of the ghetto. These dates also include persons deported to concentration camps Stutthof, Buchenwald etc, in the autumn of 1944.

The citizenship of non-Latvian citizens is stated. This subject was not researched intentionally but where it was stated, we left it since it shows the structure of the Jewish population in Latvia in June of 1941 and includes Jews from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Germany etc, who found a home in Latvia when escaping from the Nazi regime.

Half-Jew - could live outside the ghetto and was exempt from many anti-Jewish measures.


CONTACT INFORMATION

The project is not yet finished, many columns of the personal cards are still empty and the fate of many Latvian Jews still has to be established. Therefore we would be grateful to anyone who can help us in this work by sharing with us information about the fate of their relatives and friends.

Please contact us by e-mail names@latnet.lv