Aleksandrs Feigmanis

Why Can’t Riga Just Replace a Plaque on the Wall?



OPINION  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |   LATVIA

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

 


I am a tour guide in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Whenever I take tourists through  Riga’s fabled Old Town, we together pass, on the way from Town Hall Square to the still-functioning synagogue, the address Peldu Street 15, right on the corner of Peldu and Kungu. There is a high school building and a twenty-four-hour parking lot guarded all the time. And right in front of us, on the outside wall of Peldu 15, there is the half-destroyed plaque for the Righteous Among the Nations Anna Alma Pole.

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Some High Latvian Politicians Think the Waffen SS Fought for Freedom



OPINION  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  GLORIFYING COLLABORATORS  |  LATVIA  |  ANNUAL WAFFEN SS MARCHES IN RIGA

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

Aleksandrs Feigmanis

Dr. Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

There are here in Latvia some high-ranking Latvian politicians who actually believe that the country’s Waffen SS fighters fought for freedom of their country. Every year on the 16th of March Latvian nationalists gather at the Freedom Monument in the heart of Riga, the nation’s capital, and in the cemetery at Lestene, a village some seventy-two kilometers from Riga, to remember and honor (honor!) the living and dead veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS.

Established by order of Adolf Hitler on the 10th of February 1943, they fought for Nazi Germany against the Red Army on the Volkhov front near Leningrad, and later in Great River region, Kurzeme (Kurland), in Poland, Germany and elsewhere.

Although the alarming series of annual events commemorating and glorifying the Latvian SS Volunteer Legion events are now officially non-governmental, some MPs and even ministers do not hesitate to not only participate publicly, setting an example for the nation’s youth, but also to publicly refer to Waffen SS legionnaires as heroes and national freedom fighters. Had Hitler won the war, there would have been no Latvia left to become free in 1991. By swearing and oath to Adolf Hitler’s genocidal regime, and then in fact delaying the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies, they were pawns of the Nazis who do not deserve to be glorified by a modern, democratic member of the European Union and NATO.

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What Riga Ghetto Survivors Recall about Herberts Cukurs, Now “Hero” of New Show in Latvia



O P I N I O N / H I S T O R Y

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

Herberts Cukurs (1900-1965) had been an officer and a famous aviator during the years of the interwar Latvian Republic (1918-1940). After Nazi Germany’s 1941 occupation of Latvia, he became a significant figure in the infamous Arājs Kommando (or Sonderkommando Arajs), a notorious killing unit during the Latvian Holocaust. The Arājs group consisted of about 1,200 people, mostly local Latvians. It was established at the beginning of July 1941 within the German security services.

The Arājs Kommando carried out the killing of at least 30,000 Jews in numerous cities and towns in Latvia. The toll included the family of my grandfather in Vilani (in Yiddish Vilon), which occurred at dawn on August 4, 1941. The victims were his parents, and his sisters and their husbands and young children.

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Aleksandrs Feigmanis Documents Mysterious Eight-Pointed Star in Riga Synagogue


MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAFollowing publication last year of an article on the mysterious eight-pointed star known from some old Jewish cemeteries in western Lithuania (the area known as Zámet in Yiddish, corresponding in part to Žemaitija), DH contributor Dr. Aleksandrs Feigmanis, director of Riga-based BalticGen Tours, has reported that a similar eight-pointed star adorns the (recently renovated) synagogue in Riga, Latvia. Hopefully, images will emerge of the prewar design corresponding to the reconstructed section in question.

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An Unmarked Holocaust Mass Murder Site in Riga, the Latvian Capital



INTERVIEW WITH RIGA HISTORIAN MEYER MELLER (MELERS)

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis

The great Russian author Lev Tolstoy wrote in his story “From the Notebook of Prince D. Nekhlyudov. Luzern.”

 “Seventh July 1857 in Luzern in front of the Schweizerhof Hotel, where most rich people would stay the itinerant beggar-singer sings songs for half an hour and plays his guitar. About a hundred people heard him. Three times the singer asked the crowd to give him some money or food. Nobody gave him anything and many laughed at him.” […] This is the event which the historian of our times should write about with fiery irascible letters. This event is much more important and serious and has much more sense than the facts written in newspapers and history books. […] This is not a fact for the history of human acts, but for the history of progress and civilization.”

All that marks this major Holocaust mass grave in Riga, the Latvian capital, is a plastic bucket of flowers near the empty frame of a long-destroyed Soviet-era tin sign.

If you wish to see the mass grave take number 13 bus from the central station headed for Plavnieki and get off at the stop called Darzenu baze (roughly a half-hour ride). When you get off, turn from Lubanas street to the right until you come to Darzenu baze (“warehouse for vegetables”). In the pine woods some 300 meters from the warehouse you will see a little hill, without any mark, inscription or tombstone. Just a few primitive buckets of plastic flowers mark the site. They are placed near a wood frame stand that once, in Soviet times, held within it a bilingual tin sign about the site, that has long been destroyed and removed. The site is about 600 meters from the nine-floor apartment houses in Riga’s Plavnieki district. 

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Cameron’s Latvian Liaison, One Woman’s Petition and One SS March



O P I N I O N

by Monica Lowenberg

 

If you walked through a busy EU city today and came across Eichmann Allee, Hitler Strasse or even Goebbels Gasse you would initially think that someone was pulling your leg or you would start to raise, and rightly so, serious questions regarding the ruling government that would allow such blatant glorification of mass murderers to take place. You can therefore imagine how I felt, the daughter of a German Jewish refugee whose paternal Latvian Jewish family had all been brutally murdered in the Libau massacres of 1941 and Riga ghetto, to discover in 2011, that each and every 16 March, since 1998, SS veterans are glorified in the capital city of Riga in Latvia an EU and NATO country since 2004.

My name is Monica Lowenberg; I was born on a cold winter’s day in 1964, in ear shot of Bow Bells.

On January 20, 2012, I set up a petition to stop the 16th March marches in Riga, ninety years to the day from the date of birth of my uncle Paul Theodor Loewenberg who at age 19 was sent to the Riga Ghetto on 4 October 1941. The petition is as much an act of commemoration of the victims of Nazism as it is a tribute to the European parliamentarians, including a number from Latvia, who wisely and courageously signed on the 20 January last year 2012, the Seventy Years Declaration, commemorating Wannsee, a declaration which specifically rejects glorification of Latvia’s Waffen SS, along with Estonia’s Waffen SS and the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) in Lithuania.

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The Seventy Years Declaration (Latvian)


 


2012.gada 20. janvāris

Septiņdesmitās gadadienas Deklarācija kopš “Galīgā risinājuma ebreju jautājumā”

 

Šajā 70 gadu atceres pasākumā, kopš nacisti oficiāli pieņēma plānu “Galīgais risinājums ebreju jautājumā” Vanzē konferencē, mēs, zemāk parakstījušies

ATCERAMIES:

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