JEWS IN LIEPAJA/LATVIA, 1941-45
A DATABASE OF VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS
Many Liepaja Jewish families and their friends were totally wiped out in the Holocaust, leaving nobody to remember their names. Thus, of the 6500+ Liepaja Jews who perished in WWII, only about 1500 have so far been recorded at Yad Vashem. Such oblivion would have pleased Hitler.
We began in 1998 to search for the names, recovered at least 93%, and have been listing them on this web site. The methodology of this project has been described in an article in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. A memorial book was published in March 2001 and about 1000 copies were sent at no charge to all Liepaja Jews (or descendants) whose addresses we knew and to about 200 libraries and archives. The entire printing has been distributed, except for a few copies in Israel. The present (May 2008) revision of this website is likely to be the last.
Events Of 1941-45
About 7100 Jews lived in Liepaja, Latvia on 14 June 1941. (Our database contains 7142 names, but several hundred are possible duplicates). About 208 were deported to the USSR that day, a few hundred fled to the USSR after Germany attacked the USSR on 22 June 1941, and most of the remaining ones were killed during the German occupation that began on 29 June 1941. Most men were shot during the summer and fall; at first near the lighthouse, then on the Naval Base, and from October 1941 on in the dunes of Shkede north of town. Women and children were largely spared until the big Aktion of 14-17 December, 1941, when 2749 Jews were shot. (For further information, see pictures of the shootings, taken by the Security Police and secretly copied by survivor David Zivcon, and the account by historian Andrew Ezergailis). Killings continued in early 1942, and by the time the ghetto was established on 1 July 1942, only 832 Jews were left.
The ghetto was closed on 8 October 1943 when the survivors were taken to Riga. Young adults were generally spared, but in the next few months older people and women with children were killed locally or in Auschwitz. When the Red Army approached Riga in the summer of 1944, the survivors were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig in several transports, from August to October 1944. Many died in the increasingly brutal conditions of this camp, especially on death marches in early 1945, and only 175 survived. Of the deportees and refugees to the USSR, many perished, but some 300 survived.
For a detailed historical account of the Holocaust in Liepaja, see a recent article by Anders or the following excerpt from Ch. 9 of Andrew Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-44. To view the latter document, you will need the Adobe Reader, which is available at as a free download. An excellent book on 20th century Jewish life in Latvia is Latvians and Jews between Germany and Russia by the journalist Frank Gordon, now living in Tel Aviv. It is available as a free download at http://vip.latnet.lv/LPRA/frank_gordon.htm. A more comprehensive work is Steimanis, Iosifs, "History of Latvian Jews", translated from 1995 Latvian and Russian editions; edited and revised by Edward Anders. New York: Columbia University Press & East European Monographs, 2002. xvi+229 pages, $44.50. (ISBN 0-88033-493-2).
How To Use The Database
Click on any word in blue to bring up further information.
Click on Surnames for an alphabetical list of surnames. Click on a surname to get to the Index section listing all the people with that surname, arranged alphabetically by first name. Click on a first name to bring up a "Family Card" for that person (and his/her spouse, if any). For a complete family, you will see on the Family Card:
Husband on left, wife on right, the two sets of grandparents above, and children below. The cards for husband and wife contain the following information:
Date and place of birth
• Date and place of death
• Address in August 1941 (A list of old and new street names is available here)
• Previous address
• "Alias" = any variant names for this person
• KZ = concentration camp
• "Flags" = the person’s fate and other information.
• Sources of the information. See also the complete list of sources
See the Glossary for further explanations. To bring up family cards for parents and children, click on their names.
There is much more information on the "Person Sheet". From any family card, click on the bold-faced name (blue) at the top of the family card. That will bring up a "Person Sheet" containing all the known information about that person. Click the numbers in parentheses to find where each piece of information comes from.
Maiden Names for 1003 women are given in a separate list. These come mainly from Yad Vashem Pages of Testimony, and often are misspelled or entirely wrong; sometimes two very different maiden names are given for the same person on different Pages.
Most of the data—about 5700 names—come from a census conducted in late August 1941, 2 months into the German occupation. We have translated most of these data from the original Latvian into English, except for street and place names, which we transliterated by replacing special Latvian characters by their English equivalents.
Most of the other 12 sources are in German, Russian, Hebrew, or English, and as these languages transliterate Jewish names differently, a given surname may show up in several different parts of the alphabet: Sebba-Zebba-Zeba, Hurvichs-Gurvich-Gurwitz, Charnijs-Charny-Tscharny. We have generally standardized these names to the German spellings that were used in the Liepaja Jewish cemetery records before 1941, and have eliminated obvious misspellings and needless variants. But spellings of Jewish names were far from uniform even in pre-war days. When looking for a given family, check the entire Surnames list for any variants.
Limitations of Data
1. Family Relationships. Most of the documents we used contain no information on family relationships. We therefore had to guess them, on the assumption that people with the same surname living in the same apartment were related.
Without First Names. Most
victims in Soviet
records are identified only by surname, and we have therefore used
"?" or "Child", "Daughter",
"Wife", "Woman", or
"Man" for the missing first
Killed Early. We estimate that
at least 300 were omitted from the
census. One indication is the number of women with children but no husband.
4. Children. They often were omitted from the census, being too young to work. Perhaps 100 are missing.
5. Refugees Who Fled to the USSR. Their apartments were seized early during the German occupation and their names were stricken from records before the census. We have found no lists whatsoever for these refugees, and thus had to depend on survivors to tell us their names, especially of those who perished.
Please Report Errors And Omissions To:
We are very indebted to the following people for providing data. Gunta Minde and Ira Zaneriba (Latvian State Historical Archives, Riga, Latvia), Danuta Drywa (Panstwowe Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie, Sztutowo, Poland), C. C. Biedermann and U. Jost (International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen, Germany), Alex Avraham and Zvi Bernhardt (Hall of Names, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem), and Vadim Altskan, Aaron T. Kornblum, and Arnold Kramer (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC). Yves Sandoz of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva kindly made the gigantic database of the International Tracing Service available to us. German Levin entered data in the early stages of the project.