The Murder of the Jews in Latvia: 1941-1945

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Northwestern University Press, 2000 - History - 222 pages
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At the end of June 1941, Latvia fell into the hands of the Germans. Within months, the command was given to "evacuate" the Jews of the Riga ghetto. Armed gangs of Latvians and Germans forced their way into Jewish homes, startling the occupants out of their sleep and shooting them in their beds. On streets, in shops, and in factories, the Jews of Riga were hunted down. Men and women, children, and the elderly were driven into groves on the outskirts of town, forced to dig mass graves or stand over those already dug, and shot by the hundreds of thousands. Bernhard Press was one of the few to survive.

This book is Press's account of life and death during the Nazi reign of terror in Latvia. In direct, unadorned prose, Press describes his escape from the Riga ghetto, his three years in hiding with the family of a friend, and the further trials that awaited the surviving Jews of Riga when Latvia was "liberated" by the Russians. Recounting his own harrowing experience and detailing the plight of Eastern European Jews faced with the anti-Semitism of their homelands, the Germans, and the Soviets, in The Murder of the Jews in Latvia Press recovers a lost chapter in the literature of the Holocaust. The book is both a compelling memoir and an important historical document.


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I happened to stumble upon this book while searching for my family history in Latvia. Unfortunately for my Grandfather he was Jewish and Latvian. My Grandfather survived the war and was able to find his non-Jewish wife and daughters in West Germany and in 1950 they moved to the United. States. I have to say this book is very informative and it filled in many gaps in the stories from my Grandfather. I think it is a great historical work that tells the story of the Latvian Jews in WW2. I definitely recommend reading this account. 


On the History of the Jews in Latvia
On the Political Situation of the Jews in Latvia
The Ghetto Is Established
Daily Life in the Ghetto
The Small Ghetto
The Large German Ghetto
The Kaiserwald Concentration Camp
Genocide in Latvia

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About the author (2000)

Press was born in Riga. Because of overt antiSemitism in Latvia, he began medical school at the University of Florence but returned home in 1938. In 1951, while at Riga University, Press was accused of high treason and sentenced to twenty-five years in the arctic labor camp at Norilsk. He was released in 1956. Press and his family emigrated to West Germany in 1979. He is Honorary Professor of Pathology at the Free University of Berlin.

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