Riga – Museum of Jews in Latvia

Housed in a building owned by the Jewish community of Riga, the second floor museum consists of three large rooms. There’s no entrance fee, although hopefully everyone who can leaves a donation, and there’s a free audio guide available in English. The staff member at the reception desk was keen to explain about the museum and what was in each of the three rooms.

The stained glass windows were donated by Hilde Shneider, who was imprisoned in the Riga ghetto and then in a concentration camp.

This prayer book was found near the site of mass graves near Rezekne.

A fragment of a tombstone which was in the Jewish cemetery at Aizpute. Around 100 tombstones still exist at the cemetery, but much was damaged or destroyed by the Nazis.

There were many villains in the Second World War, so it’s important to remember the heroes. This is Jānis Lipke, a dock worker in Riga who saved over 40 Jews by smuggling them out of the city’s ghetto. His efforts were responsible for saving 20% of all of the Jews from the city who survived the Second World War, and he was awarded with the status of the Righteous Among the Nations.

The numbers worn on the clothing of the prisoners in concentration camps, these were worn by Jozefa Perlmana (8533) and Jankela Sermana (6201).

A section of a prisoner’s clothing and their number, 98071, belonging to Aleksandr Usman from when he was at a concentration camp in Riga.

A purse which was made from the Holy Scrolls stolen from the Karsava synagogue. Karsava is a Latvian town where nearly half the population before the Second World War were Jews, but they were nearly all killed by the Nazis. The synagogue was destroyed and the community shattered.

A map of where mass graves of Jews were found across Latvia.

“Everything is over”.

A plan of the Riga ghetto.

The museum made an effort to show life in the Jewish community over the centuries, and not just during the Second World War. It was all well put together and the audio guide was certainly comprehensive, there was over an hour’s worth of recording provided. The whole environment felt very welcoming and it’s clear that this museum is very much a labour of love.