Holocaust in Tukums, Latvia
Jews have been settling in the city of Tukums since the end of the 18th century. By the 1930s, they made up 12% of the urban population and controlled 40% of local businesses. Ethnic Germans made up 10% of the city's population. Relations between Germans and Jews were normal until 1933. After the establishment of a branch of the Hitler Youth in Tukums, fights broke out between Jewish and German teenagers. There were also clashes between Latvian and Jewish youth.
As a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Latvia was occupied by Soviet troops. In Tukums, the new government nationalized all Jewish shops and businesses, and prohibited the activities of Jewish organizations.
With the beginning of the Soviet-German war, Soviet troops in a hurry left the city. With the departure of the Soviet regime, local self-defense became more active, which began the persecution of Jews.
On the eve of the occupation, several hundred Jews of Tukums were evacuated deep into the USSR. About a hundred were mobilized into the Red Army. More than half of them did not return from the front.
On the eve of the occupation on June 27, 1941, a group of Tukums Jews rented a bus to leave the city. Benno Weinreich, the driver of the local meat processing plant, drove the bus. He drove up to the rabbi's house at 9 Brivibas Square to pick him up and his family. Rabbi Levi of Liechtenstein gave his blessing to those leaving, but he himself refused to leave Tukums. It was starting Saturday and he didn't want to break the rules. In addition, the rabbi considered what would be needed for those who remained in the city. In the post-war years, his remains were identified and reburied in the Jewish cemetery of Tukums.
The city was occupied on July 1, 1941. The Nazis concentrated Jews in the city's synagogues. The physically strong were used for forced labor.
The occupiers organized a show trial, during which the leading members of the community were accused of collaborating with the Soviet regime. In mid-July 1941, the condemned were shot in the area of Lake Valgums.
With the assistance of the local police, the Nazis first killed the men, forcing them to first dig ditches for all members of the community. Then, in groups of 20-30 people, women, old people and children were taken to the ditches.
In the vicinity of Tukums, on the territory of the Vecmokas estate, the invaders set up a labor camp, where they brought Jews from the surrounding settlements. Some of the Tukums Jews also ended up here. The occupants killed the prisoners of the camp in November 1941. A memorial sign was erected at the place of the execution in the post-war years.