Grobiņa | Kurzeme

The old Jewish cemetery of Grobina. It was built in the 19th century. On June 23, 1941, six Jews from the town were executed here by members of the German SD. Today, only a few gravestones remain in the woods.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Voldermārs B., born in 1935: "I remember that the Latvian shooters who carried out this shooting were sentenced to about 25 years in prison after the war. Much later, after these people were released, I spotted one of them at the execution site. "©Eva S Voldermārs B., born in 1935, takes Yahad team to the old Jewish cemetery of Grobina, now located in the middle of a thick grove.    © Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Voldermārs B., born in 1935, takes the Yahad team to the Iļģi forest, located 2 km north of Grobina, where the execution took place.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum The site where, on October 27, 1941, Latvian militiamen shot at least 87 Jews from Grobina, including men, women and children.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Today, near the site of the execution, there is a memorial stone with the inscription: "Graves of the victims of Fascistic Terror.” Next to it is a memorial plaque with the names of the 87 Jewish victims shot there on October 27, 1941.    ©Eva Saukane/Yah

Execution of Jews in Grobiņa

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Clearing in the woods
Memorials:
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941 – 1945
Number of victims:
87

Witness interview

Voldermārs B., born in 1935: "I remember that when the Jews were rounded up, between 4 and 6 o’clock in the morning, the inhabitants were not allowed to look out of the windows. It was the local Aizsargi who arrested the Jews. They were taken and kept in a summer house in the woods near the execution site. Afterwards, they were led in front of the pits. The shooters were local Latvians." (Witness n°47LV, interviewed in Grobiņa, on October 2, 2019)

Soviet archives

"I know that the Jewish families were arrested at the end of September or beginning of October 1941 by the Latvian Schutzmannschaften monsters, on the orders of the German officers. All the Jewish families were taken to the summer houses in the Ilginsker forest, 2 km from Grobina. After spending the night there, all the Jewish families, 100 people in total, were shot between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning in the Ilginsker forest. The shootings were ordered by the Germans. The Landsknechte and Schutzmänner assisted them. The Jews were shot in groups. They were lined up in front of the pit. The dead and wounded fell into the pit and were buried like that. The belongings they left in the pit were distributed by the Landsknechte and Schutzmänner." [RG-14.101M.2827.00001089; Bl. 39; Testimony of the witness S*** on May 26, 1945]

Historical note

Grobiņa is a town located 185 km (115 miles) west of Riga, in the Kurzeme region of Latvia. During the 19th century, the small local Jewish community established a first cemetery. During the early 20th century, a new Jewish cemetery was built. In 1935, 99 Jews were registered in the town. In the summer of 1940, under the terms of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact, the region was annexed by the USSR.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On June 22, 1941, the German armies and their allies begin their invasion of the USSR, marking the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. On the same day, Grobiņa was captured. As early as June 23, six Jews were shot in the former Jewish cemetery by members of the SD. At the same time, a local militia composed of Latvians was created. In October 1941, all of the town’s Jews were rounded up by the German authorities and sent to the Iļģi forest, located 2 km (1 mile) north of Grobiņa. At first, they stayed in summer homes. On October 27, they were shot in large pits by members of the Latvian auxiliary militia in this same forest. The Jews had to dig the pits themselves. At least 87 Jews, including men, women and children, were executed that day. Grobiņa was liberated by the Red Army in May 1945.

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