Kalevi – Liiva | Harju

Dunes of Kalevi-Liiva, 1940. © USHMM Photo archives Kalevi-Liiva execution site today ©Abner Garcia/Yahad - In Unum Endla A., born in 1940 : "In the summer of 1944, while I was collecting hay in the fields, I saw buses stop just before the road leading to Kalevi-Liiva. People were taken out by force. I remember a child with red shoes. ©Abner Garcia/Yahad - In Unum Velli P., born in 1935 : "In the late summer of 1942, I heard that people were being transferred here in buses. Sometimes, when the wind blew in our direction, the whole village was filled with a bad smell."©Abner Garcia/Yahad - In Unum Memorial dedicated to the German, Czech and Polish Jewish victims who were executed during the war. ©Abner Garcia/Yahad - In Unum Memorial dedicated to the Roma victims murdered in Kalevi-Liiva. ©Abner Garcia/Yahad - In Unum Former school that served as a barracks for the Germans. ©Abner Garcia/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews, Romas and political prisoners in Kalevi-Liiva

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 3,000 and 6,000

Witness interview

"On the morning of March 10, my family and I left Tallinn to go to Kaberneeme, where my father was a bus driver. On the road, I remember seeing a bus parked to the side with some standing around it. I remember a little girl with black hair. There were two guards next to the bus. They told us to keep going. I don’t know what happened to these people, but there were rumors that they were taken to Kalevi-Liiva. We could often hear gunshots from Kaberneeme. When the wind blew in our direction, we could also see and smell smoke with a burning odour. After the war, I went to Kalevi-Liiva. I found hair clips and scissors there. I noticed that the ground and the sand were different. The ground looked burned." (Witness n°03EST, interviewed in Kuusalu on October 11, 2019)

Historical note

The Kalevi-Liiva site consists of sand dunes surrounded by a forest. It is located in Harju County, Estonia, 30 km (18.5 miles) east of Tallinn. Before the war, the majority of the Jews in the region resided in Tallinn. The villages around Kalevi-Liiva were mostly composed of Estonians.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On June 22, 1941, the Third Reich and its allies began the invasion of the USSR, marking the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. At the end of August, the entire territory of Estonia was occupied. The vast majority of Estonian Jews were executed during the first days of the invasion. At the end of 1941, Estonia was declared "Judenfrei", meaning it was completely cleared of Jews. Nevertheless, the Reich authorities used the region to set up concentration and labor camps for Jews deported from all over occupied Europe.Iin August 1942, for example, only 5 km (3 miles) southwest of Kalevi-Liiva, the Jägala camp was created.

On September 5, 1942, trains containing circa. 1,000 Jewish deportees from the Czech ghetto in Theresienstadt arrived at the Raasiku train station, 13 km (8 miles) south of Kalevi-Liiva. They were taken by bus to the site in the dunes and executed in front of large mass graves. On September 30, a new transport of a thousand German Jews subsequently suffered the same fate, shot the day they arrived. About 400 Jews from these convoys were not executed immediately and but were transferred to the nearby Jägala camp. At the same time, several hundred German and Czech Roma were taken to Kalevi-Liiva and executed in the same way. The bodies were burned afterwards. These shootings were carried out by members of Einsatzgruppe A and their Estonian collaborators. The Estonians in charge of the executions were Aleksander Laak, Ain-Ervin Mere and Ralf Gerrets.

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