LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH
4 July, 2001 (14)
- A Commemoration Ceremony of the Holocaust Victims Held at Synagogue Ruins in Riga
A Commemoration Ceremony of the Holocaust Victims Held at Synagogue Ruins in Riga
On 4 July – the official commemoration day of victims of genocide against the Jewish people, a ceremony commemorating the Holocaust victims was held in Riga, at the memorial site of the synagogue that was burnt to the ground during World War II. The President of Latvia Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Israeli Ambassador to Latvia Mr Avraham Benjamin, Chief Rabbi Nathan Barkan, leader of the Jewish community of Latvia Mr Grigory Krupnikov, as well as representatives of the Jewish community, Riga Jewish Secondary School, and others were present at the ceremony.
The President of Latvia Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga in her speech at the synagogue ruins urged to pray for souls of those killed and underscored that burning of the synagogue 60 years ago was a prelude to millions of lives sacrificed to Nazism. The President noted that the Holocaust was an expression of evil, prejudices, intolerance, self-righteousness and satanic arbitrariness and called on people to raise their children so "inhumanity has no place either here or elsewhere". "Anyone who raises his hand against own brother, raises his hand against the whole humanity," emphasised the President.
The participants of the commemoration ceremony at the Jewish synagogue were also addressed by the Ambassador of Israel to Latvia Mr Avraham Benjamin who said Latvia's Jews who were burnt alive in the synagogue 60 years ago were among the first victims of Hitler and today the ruins remind of the destructive ideology. He reminded though that "after dark comes light" and the State of Israel is alive. Just like the memories about the Holocaust.
At the close of the commemoration event, following a common prayer, the President laid flowers at the commemoration stone.
In the morning of 4 July 1941, Nazis set the synagogue, full of people, on fire, but before doing so they nailed the synagogue door shut. Some 300 Jews burnt alive in the fire although various sources of history cite different numbers.