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Obj. ID: 44120
Memorials
  Memorial to the Victims of Fascism at Mežciems in Daugavpils, Latvia, 1960, 2005, 2007

© Vladimir Levin, Photographer: Levin, Vladimir, 4.2022

Memorial Name

Memorial to the Victims of Fascism - Fašisma upuru memoriāls. 

Who is Commemorated?

Victims of the Nazis murdered at Mežciems and buried at this site.  

Description:

The memorial is a large territory with mass graves. It is divided from the road by a stone fence, to which two metal plaques with inscriptions are affixed. The inscriptions in Latvian and Russian “In this forest, in 1941–1944, the fascist occupiers tortured and shot down more than 100,000 people.”

The main pathway leads from the entrance to the obelisk on a raised platform. The obelisk replaced in 2005 the original bronze monument stolen in the 1990s. On both sides of the pathway, mass graves are marked by stone frames.

A high obelisk painted white (erected in 2005) stands on the stone pedestal that remained from the original monument of 1960. A marble plaque affixed to it says in Russian “Eternal memory” and has a cross and a bunch of flowers depicted on it. Stone slabs on both sides of the obelisk are inscribed in large letters, in Russian and Latvian, “To the victims of Fascism, 1941–1944.”

The Council of Latvian Jewish Communities supplemented the memorial with a monument to the murdered Jews. In the corner of a mass grave on the righthand side of the pathway, there are two small black marble slabs designed by Ilana Lisagor. They bear Stars of David inscribed with the letters פ"נ and identical inscriptions in Latvian, Russian, English, and Yiddish.

Inscription:

At the entrance:

Latvian

Šajā mežā
1941. – 1944. g.
fašistiske okupanti nomocīja
un nošāva pāri
100 tūkstošu cilvēku.

Translation: In this forest, in 1941–1944, the fascist occupiers tortured and shot down more than 100,000 people.

Russian

В этом лесу
в 1941 – 1944 гг.
фашистские оккупанты замучили
и расстреляли свыше
100 тысяч человек

Translation: In this forest, in 1941–1944, the fascist occupiers tortured and shot down more than 100,000 people. 

On the plaque affixed to the obelisk:

Russian

Вечная память

Translation: Eternal memory

On the both sides of the obelisk:

Latvian

Fašisma upuriem
1941-1944

Translation: to the victims of fascism, 1941-1945

Russian

Жертвам фашизма
1941-1945

Translation: to the victims of fascism, 1941-1945

Black slabs:

Latvian

Šajā vietā ir apbedītas Daugavpils geto
ieslodzīto mīrstīgās atliekas

Latvijas Ebreju draudži un kopienu padome

Russian

Здесь захоронены останки узников
Даугавпилсского гетто

Совет еврейских общин Латвии

English:

The remains of prisoners of the Daugavpils
ghetto are buried here

The Council of Latvia Jewish Communities

Yiddish

אין דעם ארט 1941 זיינען באערדיקט יידן וועלכע זיינען כעהרגעט
געוורן אין דוינסק'ער גטו
ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.

די ראט פון יידישע קהילות אין לטביה

Commissioned by

Authorities of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic (1960)

The Council of Latvia Jewish Communities (2007)

 

Summary and Remarks
Remarks

17 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Name/Title
Memorial to the Victims of Fascism at Mežciems in Daugavpils | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Date
1960, 2005, 2007
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Unknown |
Congregation
Unknown
Location
Latvia | Latgale | Daugavpils
| Mežciems
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown|
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Iconographical Subject
Textual Content
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Brick and concrete obelisk, marble slabs
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Material Lining
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Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
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Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
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Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
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0
Ornamentation
Custom
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Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance

The German troops entered Daugavpils on June 26, 1941. On July 15, 1941, a ghetto was established in the bridge fortification on the left bank of the Daugava River. In total, approximately 15,000 to 20,000 Jews were placed in the ghetto, of which less than 100 persons survived.

From July 1941 to the end of 1943, prisoners of the Daugavpils Ghetto were murdered in the Mežciems (historical name – Pogulianka) Forest. The murder of large groups of Jews was recorded on July 29, 1941 (Jews 60 years old and older), August 2 (Jews from other towns), August 6, August 17, August 9 to 19 (400 children from an orphanage), the beginning of November 1941. By December 5, 1941, only 962 prisoners remained in the ghetto. On May 1, 1942, several hundred more were murdered, so that only 487 prisoners remained. On October 28, 1943, they were transferred to the Kaiserwald concentration camp in Riga.

At the end of 1943, the commando 1005 (Stützpunkt) with the help of 30 Jewish prisoners from Riga unearthed mass graves in Mežciems and burnt the bodies of the victims. However, not all pits were found in 1943.

In the 1950s, the remains of 2000 children were found in Mežciems. They were reinterred in the Old Jewish Cemetery and after its demolition in the 1970s were transferred to the Jewish sector of the Communal Cemetery (see here). A memorial at the site was installed in 1967 and 1974 (see here).

In the late 1980s, additional pits in Mežciems were discovered. Jewish volunteers unearthed them and reburied them on July 9, 1989, near the Memorial to the Victims of Fascism.

The Memorial to the Victims of Fascism in Mežciems was unveiled on July 27, 1960. It was designed by the Latvian sculptor Harijs Sprincis and architect Zigurds Ābelīte. The monument consisted of a high concrete stele and three large bronze men’s figures standing on a pedestal made of large stones. In the 1990s, the bronze figures were stolen. The deformed stele was removed afterward (for the photographs of the original monument and deformed stele see Meler 2010, p. 148; Meler 2013, p. 89).

A high obelisk was erected on the pedestal of the original memorial and unveiled on November 16, 2005 (Rochko, 2021, p. 53). A marble plaque affixed to it says in Russian “Eternal memory” and has a cross and a bunch of flowers depicted on it.  

The monument to the murdered Jews designed by Ilana Lisagor was unveiled on August 21, 2007. On the same day, a similar monument was unveiled at the killing site in the former Railway Garden behind the White Swan Prison (see here).

Main Surveys & Excavations
Sources

"Holocaust Memorial Places in Latvia," a website by the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia, http://memorialplaces.lu.lv/memorial-places/latgale/daugavpils-mezciems-memorial-to-the-victims-of-nazism/.

Meler, Meyer, Jewish Latvia: Sites to Remember (Tel-Aviv: Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel, 2013), pp. 87, 89, 92.

Meler, Meyer, Mesta nashei pamiati: Evreiskie obshchiny Latvii, unichtozhennye v Kholokoste (Riga: by the author, 2010), pp. 148-150.

Rochko, Josif, Jewish Latgale: Guidebook (Daugavpils, by the author, 2018), pp. 24-25.

Rochko, Josif, Khronologiia Daugavpilsskoi evreiskoi obshchiny, 1940–2020 (Daugavpils: By the author, 2021), pp. 36, 67.
Type
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Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed: