On September 21, the unique Ghetto Museum was opened in Riga at 14a Maskavas Street. The museum is located in the area bordering the former ghetto. Besides, Riga is among the few European cities where former Nazi camp areas have remained standing, unscathed by architectural change. This neighbourhood still consists of small wooden houses with wood-carved shutters, cobblestone streets and rusty outdoor sinks in courtyards. Russian merchants and poor Jewish families once lived here. This is the second Ghetto Museum in post-Soviet territory; the first one was opened in Warsaw, Poland.
In the museum, more than 70,000 names of Holocaust victims and a photo exhibition, dedicated to anti-Semitism propaganda, Holocaust in Latvia, resistance movement and Jewish rescuers, are set on a piece of land, covered by cobblestone taken from the streets of the former ghetto area. This is just the first phase of construction. When completed, the museum will contain a typical house from the ghetto. This, along with audiovisuals, will help to better depict Latvian Jewish life before the Holocaust.
"Having opened the first phase of the museum, we recognise that this is just the first step in the long way," said Rabbi Menachem Barkahan, the leader of the "Shamir" congregation. "Riga’s Ghetto Museum is not just a museum. I hope, it will remind one of those terrible historic events in Latvia that should never happen again. The museum should also become the education and culture centre and convey toleration and mutual respect."
Over 70,000 Latvian Jews were killed during the Holocaust. 20,000 Jews in the ghetto hailed from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
Riga Ghetto Museum is a Hebrew congregation "Shamir" project in cooperation with the Riga City Council. For more information in Latvian, English, Russian and Hebrew, go to: www.shamir.lv.