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 The book is both a compelling memoir and an important historical document.

  

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Contents

On the History of the Jews in Latvia
3
On the Political Situation of the Jews in Latvia
25
Terror
41
Imprisonment
59
The Ghetto Is Established
75
Daily Life in the Ghetto
87
Extermination
101
THE MARTYRS
111
The Small Ghetto
113
The Large German Ghetto
129
The Kaiserwald Concentration Camp
141
Genocide in Latvia
157
Freedom
179
Afterword
193
Bibliography
205
Copyright

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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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