"Latvia"
50 Years of Terror Tyranny and Oppression 1940–1991
Home      Rumbula Forest, Site of 1941 Jewish Mass Murders
 
   
 
Rumbula Forest –
Site of November December 1941 Jewish Mass Murders
 
In November, 1941 the Nazi Administration decided to destroy all the Jewish people imprisoned in the Riga Ghetto. 
 
       
 
Located on these "Sacred Grounds" is the Memorial to those who were murdered here on the 30th of November and again on the 8th of December 1941 then buried in the Six Mass Graves that are marked by rectangular raised concrete borders.
 
Rumbula is a small railroad station 12 kilometers southeast of Riga, which was connected with Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia, by the rail line along the north side of the Daugava River. Located on a hill about 250 meters from the station, the massacre site was a "rather open and accessible place". The view is blocked by vegetation. The gun fire was audible from the station grounds. The area lay between the rail line and the Riga-Daugavpils highway, with the rail line to the north of the highway. Rumbula was part of a forest and swamp area known in Latvian as Vārnu mežs. The sounds of gun fire could be and was heard from the highway. The Nazi occupation authorities carried out a number of other massacres on the north bank of the Daugava in the Rumbula vicinity. The soil was sandy and it was easy to dig graves. While the surrounding pine woods were sparse, there was a heavily forested area in the center which became the murder site. The rail line and highway made it easy to move the victims from the Riga Ghetto. It had to be within walking distance of the Riga Ghetto on the southeast side of the city, as well as transport the murders and their arms.
 
Located in six massive graves were 25,000 Jewish people, including about one thousand Jews deported from Germany, who arrived in Riga by “Locked Railway Freight Carriages” on the 30th of November 1941 unexpectedly, were immediately taken from the “Locked Railway Freight Carriages” to Rumbula Forest were they were murdered that same day. The murders were held in two waves on the 30th of November and the 8th of December 1941. In 1944 the Nazis used several hundred Jewish prisoners from the “Kaiserwald Concentration Camp”, to try and hide from the world what they had done here, were used for exhuming and burning the bodies that were murdered here in 1941, were also murdered here.
 
Men women children and families under the pretext and promise of work, the Jewish groups were taken by railway cars trucks or were forced to walk carrying only a single suitcase and the cloths on their back from the Riga Ghetto to the entrance to Rumbula Forest where their lives were changed for ever. Men women children families and undesirables entered Rumbula Forest to never return. Others were Western European Jewish people, Soviet war prisoners, and the Nazis’ political adversaries, were murdered here.
 
Moving down the path leading to one after another of these mass graves located through the forest, all one has to do is close your eyes open your mind and ears you will be able to see feel and hear the men women and children being moved silently to an area where they were ordered to leave their suitcases ordered to undress, naked and now stripped of their possessions and their dignitary they were then taken to the edge of one of the freshly dug mass graves lined up and shot some were shot in the back of the head as others were lined up in groups and then shot in the back as shots ring out the bodies fell backward and crumble into the grave. One group after another was murdered until the mass grave was full. Then they would move on to the next mass grave and the murders would continue. Soviet war prisoners who were ordered and forced to dig the mass graves then were ordered to fill them in. Once their work was done, they were also murdered and dumped into one of the mass graves.
 
Memorial in Rumbula Forest
 
In 1964, local Jewish activists managed to overcome Soviet government barriers and erected the Rumbula memorial stone, with the inscription “To the victims of fascism” not only in Latvian and Russian, but also in Yiddish. 
 
       
 
Near the road, at the entrance to the memorial complex, there is a metal construction that symbolizes the horror of the catastrophe. This is the path on which thousands of Jewish people were driven to their deaths.
Inscribed on this black marble slab at the entrance to Rumbula Forest:
 
Along this road in November and December 1941, Nazis and their local collaborators drove to death in the Rumbula Forest thousands of Jews from the Riga Ghetto.
The erection of this monument is funded by the former ghetto prisoner Voris Kliot, whose father Moses, mother Rosa, sisters Pesa, Mira, Bertha and Sarah were also killed in Rumbula. 
 
The memorial designed by Sergejs Rizhs was inaugurated on the 29th of November 2002. It was created with the support of various institutions and organizations as well as private donations by individuals from Latvia, Israel, USA, and Germany. 
 
       
 
Located at the dirt entrance path leading to these sacred grounds and its the Memorial and the Six Mass Grave Sites is marked by two slabs with inscriptions in Latvian, English, German, and Hebrew, narrating the tragic events that took place here.
 
Inscribed on these black marble slabs at the dirt entrance path to Rumbula Forest:
 
Here in the Forest of Rumbula on the 30th of November and the 8th of December 1941 the Nazis and their local collaborators shot dead more then 25,000 Jews the prisoners of the Riga Ghetto, Children, Women, Old People, as well as around 1,000 Jews deported from Germany.
 
In the summer of 1944, Hundreds of Jewish men from the Concentration Camp Riga Kaiserwald were killed here.
 
      
                                                                                                                Shalom   שלום
 
The names of those killed in Rumbula are carved into the granite stones. 
 
This path will leads you to the central part of the memorial, where a menorah “Ritual Candlestick” woven of metal wire and four meters in height, is located. The base of the candlestick has the shape of the "Star of David", whose sides bear engravings of the ghetto street names.
 
      
 
While creating this memorial, the memorial stone from the Soviet times was preserved.
 
On the bronze plaque located on this memorial is inscribed:
 
This monument was erected in 1964 under the Soviet Totalitarian Regime by activists of the Riga Jewish Community. It was the only Jewish Memorial to victims of Nazi Terror in the Territory of the USSR.
 
Šķirotava Railway Station
 
Šķirotava Railway Station is located about three or four kilometers from Riga. This is where the Jewish people from Germany and Austria arrived before being taken to either "Jungfernhof Concentration Camp" or to "Biķernieki  Forest" to be murdered. 
 
       
                                                                                                          Šķirotava Railway Station was also used for some of the 1941 and 1949 Mass Deportation of Latvians
 
This railway station was usually the terminal point for foreign Jewish people deported to Latvia. The first train with 942 Jewish people from Berlin arrived there on 30 November 1941. All of them were immediately sent to "Rumbula Forest" and murdered there. According to a German Security Service report 19,000 foreign Jewish people were brought to Latvia in early 1942. Trains began to arrive particularly often in the spring and summer of 1942, later on more seldom. Parts of those prisoners were sent to the Riga Ghetto, the young men were sent to Salaspils Concentration Camp, others to the Jungfernhof Concentration Camp. The Jewish barracks in Salaspils Concentration Camp and Jungfernhof Concentration Camp were liquidated in the summer of 1942. Only a few dozen Jewish people survived there. Still most of the trains were death trains “literally and figuratively” the deported Jewish people either died of cold in locked carriages on the way or were driven directly to the mass graves. Most frequently they were murdered in "Biķernieki Forest", sometimes in Dreilini Forest. In many cases trains passed Šķirotava Railway Station and went further to the east. Going to either, Krustpils, Litene, Pitalova. In the environs of these stations mass graves of foreign Jewish people were found were also found. About 2,000 old and weak Jewish people, who could not move, were murdered on the territory of Šķirotava Railway Station. They were buried in three large mass graves. Later the German occupants built a new railway track above this place.