Friday, August 31, 2012


The history of the concentration camp at Riga (Kaiserwald) [very little is known or published,sic] marks the end of the National-Socialistic (Nazi-German) Jewish policies in Latvia. It had started with the extermination on Latvian territory shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. A hateful and violent mood of the population enabled the new "Occupation Power" of anti-Jewish pogroms by the kindling the attitude of locals in the cities. These attacks culminated in the planned mass murder of Latvian Jews, by the use, of the so called Aufräumungs Abteilungen of Group A, the German Security Police and Security Service (SD) who had overall responsibility, but without the help of Latvian collaborators in the set time frame would not have been possible. The Germans were not the only ones who wanted to exterminate the Jews. Jews had been discriminated against for centuries, the Latvians finally had the power to act out their hatred of the race. The Jews could not trust anyone, especially the local authorities and government. If they had known this perhaps they may have seen the truth earlier, but unfortunately they had faith in humanity. 

Mass shooting outside Riga
In October 1941, on direction of the German Military Authorities the 'Great Riga Ghetto', was established and its inhabitants, Latvian-Jewish families, were a month later almost completely eliminated. Security Police and SD including Latvian auxiliary police officers shot and killed the inhabitants of the Riga Ghetto in the surrounding woods and buried the bodies in the previously dug pits by Russian prisoners of war. This created space for numerous incoming deportation trains in 1942 from the German Reich. The new ghetto dwellers, and the remaining Jews, mostly young men had to work for the German war economy as forced labourers. 

A Jew being dragged away by Latvian soldiers in the Riga ghetto
NOTE: [Forced labourer is called a person under threat of a penalty or other means to perform work expected of him/her against their will . It is - with blurred transitions - the severest form of work requirement. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defined in 1930 in Article 2 paragraph 1 of the Convention concerning forced or compulsory labour, as involuntary work or service which is exercised under threat of punishment. It does not include, according to Paragraph 2 of the Convention: military service, normal civic obligations, prison labour (which could perhaps legally include KZ inmates) or labour necessary in cases of force majeure and work that serves the immediate benefit of the community. The ILO estimates the number of people who were forced to do this type of work in Europe during WW II to about 360,000. sic]
The elderly, children and the sick, in short, those unable to work (Arbeitsunfähige) were selected and killed in the surrounding woods. This phase lasted until the deportation of all Jews from Riga and up to their accommodation into barracks of the concentration camp Kaiserwald and its satellite camps from July 1943.
The KZ Kaiserwald received due to its location near the central administration of the Reichskommissariat Ostland in the city a special place in the system of Nazi concentration camps. It was operated as a nerve centre for all satellite camps, which was a decisive factor in the murder of the Jews of the Baltic States, either through hard physical labour or inhuman degrading treatment of the prisoners which was the principle method of extermination, of the SS leadership in Latvia.

Houses along a street inside the Riga Ghetto
The establishment of Kaiserwald falls into the period when the extermination camps in occupied Poland were closed and the system of concentration camps was extended again elsewhere. As a result from mid-1943 new camps in the eastern territories conquered in 1941 were established. Kaiserwald was formally under the jurisdiction of the WVHA headed by Oswald Pohl. It had, however, in reality, to the existing concentration camps in the Reich very little in common: In its function it was primarily intended as a collection and transit camp for Jews. The structure of the main camp was indeed very similar to the existing camps, but because of staff shortages its main Administration was restricted to five sections. The system of Prison Functionaries was also modified in its application of "Self-governing" (Häftlingsselbstverwaltung) . For these purposes, political and criminal prisoners from KZ Sachsenhausen were transferred, who should take over the "inmate Administration".
The German-Russian front line made it inevitable to close the concentration camp in the fall of 1944. The prisoners were evacuated by ship to Gdansk (Danzig). From there, the SS separated the female prisoners and sent them into a number of satellite camps which were under KZ Stutthof administration. The male prisoners were marched under heavy guard further into the interior of the Reich and in the direction of Buchenwald for relocation. Some 14,000 Jewish prisoners and Russian POWs were shipped from Riga and Libau to Danzig. Old, sick and children stayed behind and were killed by death squads in the forests of Riga. In January 1945, the second phase of the evacuation took place, in which the inmates of the Stutthof camp complex, including many former Kaiserwald prisoners, were further evacuated deeper into the German Reich. The German camps on Latvian soil of the former Soviet Union territory, there is very little knowledge, and remains largely unexplored.
Map of Riga Ghetto
The deportation and allocation of prisoners housed in the Riga area and it's surrounding sub-camps occurred mainly from there, after the registration of newly arrived transports. Due to disease, death, or selections in the satellite camps there was usually a shortfall of manpower, which was offset by the availability of able-bodied prisoners from Kaiserwald. This camp served as a control centre and management of all prisoners. The return to the main camp (Stammlager Riga) occurred only during severe illness, or a change of work allocation and finally the imminent closure of a satellite camp. Exact figures on the prisoners in the camps do not exist. In March 1944, on the assumption that the average strength of inmates in the main camp amounted to 2000, one can estimate at a prisoner population of about 9000 in all the satellite camps. In the summer of 1944, the SS decided to evacuate for security reasons all satellite camps in stages. They selected the elderly, sick, weak, and children and shot them. All others were taken into the Riga main camp and commenced in October 1944 with the the total clearing and evacuation of the prisoners. There were seven field camps further outside Riga and nine camps in the immediate vicinity.
Knowledge about the SS-staff in the camp is very limited. Only 28 SS-members could be identified by their names. How many people in total belonged to the Camp Administration or to the Guards can not be ascertained. The Camp Staff was divided, as in other camps, in the command personal and the security forces. Comparing the internal structure and functioning of the headquarters of Kaiserwald with other concentration camps, it is clear that these were different from the usual standards: So the availability of staff employed in the usual five departments was restricted. On the one hand this was due to the nearby front line, which in terms of human resources dictated its policy. With the approach of the front began also the reduction and the transfer of staff from the camp back into the Reich, which led to further personnel hardship. Even in the early days of Kaiserwald, the camp did not fill all necessary positions, so that some SS-man carried more than one important function in the camp, [in other words they doubled up, sic]. Secondly Kaiserwald acted as collection and transit camp and especially at managerial level, however this area was strengthened, staff wise, at the beginning 1944.
Removing a dead prisoner of war, winter 1941/42
Camp commander was Albert Sauer, who was born on 17 August 1898 in Misdroy on the island of Wollin [at the outlet of the river Oder, where I spent my youth, sic] which is in today's Poland. Back in 1931, he joined both the NSDAP (Nazi Party) and the SS and after being unemployed for a short period, became a full-time member of the Guard Unit V-Brandenburg, and served in the KZ Columbia House Berlin. That same year, his appointment came through and he was made Captain (Hauptsturmführer). Promoted, he became commander of KZ Sulza. On 1 April 1936 this followed by another step up as the second officer in charge of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Upon recommendation of the inspector of concentration camps, and the leader of the concentration camp guard units, Theodor Eicke, Sauer took over from August 1938 until February 1939, as the commander of the newly established camp of Mauthausen. In April 1943, Himmler appointed him Kommandant of Kaiserwald. Just before the war's end, Sauer was killed [[probably in action, sic] on May 3, 1945 in the vicinity of Berlin.
The management of labour assignments and control of the registration card index was taken over by SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) Hans Brüner. He was also deputy camp commander. His daily presence in the camp, left many prisoners with the impression that he was the real commander. While serving as assistant to the commander, it is likely that Brüner was also acting as the protective custody camp leader. This function was not always fulfilled in camps of the Baltic States because of manpower shortages and often not at all, or of a person that simultaneously held other functions. Brüner's predecessor in Kaiserwald was a not very well known member of the SS by the name of Kauffeld. As a member of the Camp Administration Brüner was involved in selection of work details in the Stammlager(Main Camp) and in the satellite camps. Twice a day, he led this type of sorting at Kaiserwald and separated prisoners for the so-called "Stützpunkt"(work base support). These "base" selectees had to dig up the graves of murdered Jews during the years 1941/42 in the surrounding woods of Riga and burn the heavily decomposed bodies afterwards. Even the nightly inspections of the camps own workshops were led by Brüner: "The visits were awful. They were always accompanied by beatings. He came at night, looking in our clothes after food, I remember how he kicked a woman inmate, he almost beat her[....] to death, he trampled upon her with his feet, struck her with his fists, as he had found something to eat in her clothes", said the former inmate Sara A. See: [Sarah A. 10/03/1973 statement, in ibid, I62/2985 B, page 2029, sic]

Durchgangslager(Transit Camp) the papers of newly arrived prisoners are burned
After the war, Brüner lived unmolested in Germany and died on March 2nd 1967 in Lüdenscheid before proceedings against the leaders of the camp staff of Kaiserweald in 1978 commenced.
The Administration in January 1944 employed at most seven members of the SS, but shows an increase in staffing levels within a few months to 14 administrative staff. In addition, the staff within the Administration changed in the first half of 1944 frequently. An increase was recorded only due to transfers from concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Warsaw or through promotions of their own guards into the offices. In June 1944, seven members of the SS left the camp, three of which were transferred to other camps., four were held in custody and indicted. In January 1944, they were accused of misappropriation of convicts properties and appropriation (theft) of objects, demoted as late as June 1944 and transferred (strafversetzt) to other Units [most likely into the SS-Strafkompanie,sic] . In the summer of 1944 until the final evacuation of the camp in October 1944, the number of concentration camp staff declined steadily. The satellite camps were already disbanded, some of the prisoners sent to other camps or killed and the staff sent to concentration camps in the Reich or directly to camp Stutthof.
The guarding of the camp was carried out by local (Latvian) police, as well as other foreign Nationals recruited into the SS which were reporting and responsible to the local German Security Divisions. A woman prisoner reported that Ukrainians were also among the guards who served as watchmen at the gate to the women's camp.
In the women's camp there were two known female superintendents. Firstly, Emma Kowa who was trained as Aufseherin from the 1 February 1943 to 26 August 1943 in Ravensbrück and subsequently sent as Matron-Supervisor in charge of the women's section at Kaiserwald. During the evacuation of Riga she drove, starting from June 8th 1944 a prison transport to Breslau-Hundsfeld. At the local women's camp of Groß-Rosen concentration camp she became Commando Leader. In October 1945, Kowa was arrested in the U.S. Zone, and on 16 April 1946 turned over to the French occupiers. On February 10, 1948 her trial commenced before a French Military Court where former inmates testified that Kowa participated during several Selections and on a "Children's Action" in the spring of 1944 in the women's camp of Kaiserwald. They also claimed, that she had beaten prisoners, whipped and kicked them. The court sentenced Emma Kowa to twenty years imprisonment with hard labour. She was released early 1953, arrested again and accused in the 1960 years, for the shooting of women prisoners during the transport from the sub-camp Breslau-Hundsfeld to the main camp (Stammlager) Gross-Rosen in the summer of 1944. The case was dismissed because of the time limitation since the offence (manslaughter) took place.
The second Oberaufseherin the women's camp was a young Latvian woman named Maria, who walked around the main camp with a whip and used her whip indiscriminately. During the last Children Selection in the summer of 1944, Riwa Z., observed as Mary pulled three children from their hiding places out of a women's barracks. The children, aged between ten and eleven years were loaded onto a truck and taken away. [Statement Riwa Z., 25/09/1973, in ibid, I162/2985 B, page 1275,sic]

Kaiserwald, Latvia, The concentration camp
In the camp, both sexes, women and men were imprisoned. Most were between 18 and 45 years old. Elderly people and children and those unable to work fell victim to the regular selection for transportation. Apart from the main camp and remaining political criminals from Sachsenhausen, all prisoners were Jews.
By the end of July until the liquidation of the ghetto in early November 1943, the resettlement of its residents into the main camp and its satellite camps had taken place. On or about August 21, 1943 there were 1,950 former ghetto residents in camp Kaiserwald and further 5924 housed in its satellite camps. [One of them was Jungfernhof (Jumpravmuiza) a vacant farmhouse, three to four kilometers from Riga. Originally planned as a food warehouse for the SS and the police, but it was used from December 1941 to house 4000 'Reich Jews' (Reichsjuden) of all ages. There they lived in catastrophic conditions. The inmates were responsible at the nearby station for the sorting of baggage from arriving transports of Jews. As from summer 1942 it was Salaspils that served as detention camp for Latvians and Russians. [See: Alfred Gottwald / Diana Schulle, The 'The deportation of Jews' from the German Reich 1941-1945, Wiesbaden, 2005, page 114, sic] This represented 75 percent of all those able to work as at August 1943 of registered residents in the ghetto. Among them were mostly Jews from the Großderutschen Reich and Czechoslovakia, the majority of them came from places like Prague and Brno (Brünn). Most of them arrived in the winter 19421/42 from their homes into the Riga ghetto, or at Jungfernhof. Of the total of 24603 arriving at the station Skirotava / Riga at least 3449 people were shot in the surrounding forests. [See Schneider, "Reise in den Tod', page 170, sic] Later held selections and the miserable living conditions reduced the number of Jews in the ghetto considerably.
A much smaller group of inmates in Kaiserwald presented the Latvian Jews from Riga and outlying regions. With the establishment of the Great Riga Ghetto on October 25, 1941 over 30,000 Latvian Jews were imprisoned in the 'Moscow suburb' Riga's. Just one month later, on 30 November and 8 December 1941, an estimated 27.500 fell victims to mass shootings in Rumbala, a wood near Riga. About 2000 to 2500 young men and 300 women escaped the executions. They were allowed to return into a small isolated area of the ghetto. The larger part of this suburb, was called Reichsjudenghetto (Reich Jews) and remained the mainstay of German Jews deported to Riga.

Gate entrance to the Riga Ghetto
Upon Himmler's orders, to vacate the ghettos in the Baltic States and send the Jews into concentration camps, Polish and Lithuanian Jews from the Vilna Ghetto and Latvian Jews from the Ghettos Libau and the county of Daugavpils were taken to Kaiserwald. On 23 Septemmber 1943, the day of the final liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, the SS deported between 1500 to 1700 able-bodied women and girls and 80 men by train to the concentration camp in Riga. Most of them were sent a few days later into the satellite camp at Riga Strasdenhof. One can only presume another Jewish transport of unknown size from the disbanded Vilna ghetto of the 'Factory Kajilis' followed a few days later. By the end of 1943 about 13.500 people had passed through the main camp (Stammlager) and shipped to other sub-camps and only about about 2,300 people were detained. Likewise, the few Jews of the Lithuanian city of Olea were deported to Riga and immediately sent into other sub-camps. At the beginning of 1944 several large shipments of Estonian Jews from the Reval arrived for some reason in the camp, their subsequent fate is unknown.

Vilna Ghetto's Main Gate
A larger group of Hungarian Jewesses from Auschwitz reached the main camp in April 1944 at the Kaiserwald just as a short transit station. After a few days they were relocated into two satellite camps Spilve and Dondagen. Only a small group of the young Hungarians remained in the main camp. Shoshana Rabinovici describes them. "The young women were upon their arrival from Auschwitz totally scared they had all their heads shaved, tattooed a number on their arms, and dressed in the standard striped prison clothes". Their subsequent fate is unknown. Only a fraction of this group was after the closure of the camp complexes evacuated to Stutthof.

Rumbula Viewed From The Riga Ghetto:
In Early October 1941, the Germans issued a decree that the Ghetto would be closed, or locked, by October 15, 1941 and that all Jews had to live in the Ghetto by October 25, 1941. Any Jew found outside of the Ghetto after this date was subject to arrest and prosecution. From that day on Jews could leave the Ghetto only by escort. Every day Germans, as well as Latvian's, picked up the Jewish labourers at the gate of the Ghetto and returned them at night time. Some SS and army units kept the Jews right at the place of work and housed them in confiscated housing with up to 50 persons in one room. Mostly men were taken from work, until one day, the Germans wanted sewing machine operators. 500 women volunteered for this work and actually 250 women were taken and incarcerated in the women’s jail.
The Food supply in the Ghetto was nearly zero and many people had to go hungry. Many workers tried to smuggle food in to the Ghetto when they returned from work. This was nearly an impossible task because they were searched by Germans as well as Latvian SS at the Ghetto gate. To make matters worse, German police units took over. It had members that were the outcasts of the human race. Some Jewish carpenters were taken to Jungfernhof, which was about four miles from Riga, where they had to build some barracks and put up some tiers in stables and barns. Nobody knew at this time what the purpose of this work was.
In the second half of November, 1941, the Germans announced that some people would be removed from the Ghetto to stop the overcrowding. The persons who would be taken would be relocated in a camp away from the Ghetto and if families were separated, they would be able to visit each other once or twice a month. Some of the people in the Ghetto believed the Germans and welcomed it, because a health and garbage problem had arisen in the Ghetto. No date for the removal of the people was given. Finally on November 30, 1941, the removal of the people from the Ghetto started. On that day the workers left the Ghetto as usual, but they saw quite a few Germans as well as Latvian SS and police by the Ghetto. Also a number of city buses were by the Ghetto gate. When the workers returned to the Ghetto nearly half of the population had been removed and one part of the Ghetto was now completely empty. Ludzas Street was the dividing line. The returning workers had to stay in a certain section of the empty Ghetto. What they found was shocking. Here and there were bodies and in many places snow was covered with blood. Houses were ransacked and some clothing and walls were blood stained. They had to carry the bodies to the cemetery and saw that the heads of the dead were partially blown off. The SS must have used special, or dum dum bullets[The ammunition used in the Walther PKK does look like a dum-dum bullet, sic] to kill the people. The Germans announced that only those people who resisted or refused an orderly resettlement were killed.

Riga, Latvia, Post-war, Houses at the site of the ghetto
According to the Ghetto inhabitants, the Latvians and Germans SS, as well as German police and Latvian auxiliary police went from house to house and drove all inhabitants out. Those who resisted or could not move fast were beaten or shot on the spot. The houses in the section were searched from top to bottom and anyone who was found was killed immediately. People were collected on Ludzas Street and were formed into columns five abreast. Then they were marched out of the Ghetto the direction of Salaspils, under heavily armed guards of the Latvian SS. Anyone who could not keep up was shot and bodies lined the snow covered street. That was all they could tell the returning workers. Some still had families in the Ghetto and asked for permission to see them which was granted by the Germans. Nobody knew what had happened to the people who had been removed from the Ghetto. The majority thought they had been put in a camp near Salaspils, because it was known that there was a camp near Salaspils which had been used by the Latvian army during summer training. How many persons were killed in the Ghetto that day is not known, but it may be close to 500.
Prior to the removal of the people from the Ghetto, Latvian workers had put up a barbed wire fence on one side of Ludzas Street. It created a smaller section in the Ghetto. This section was emptied of all inhabitants and became later known as the Ghetto of the Latvian Jewish males. In this section had to move all male workers when they returned from work after the so-called first action after November 30, 1941. Each time a group of people were (or had been) removed to a place unknown, it was called an action [Die Aktion, in German, sic]. In this action about 13,000 to 15,000 men, women and children had to be removed from the Ghetto. Nobody knew where they had been taken and no one suspected that they had been killed. It was just impossible to think that something like this, on a large scale, would happen. It was known, though, that thousands of Jews had been killed by the Latvians in July and August, 1941.
Some Latvians approached Jewish workers on the outside of the Ghetto and told them they saw their families and they needed clothing and money. Since no one suspected anything, the men would give whatever they could to spare the Latvians, to help their families in distress. Other Jews who worked for the German army asked the German commanding officer to find out where their families were. They actually sent some soldiers out to find the Jews. When they came back, they reported that they could not find a camp of Jews in the vicinity of Riga and Salaspils. A few days later a group of Jews from Lithuania arrived in an all male section of the Ghetto. They told quite a different story and reported about mass murder in Lithuania. It put doubt in many minds but they could not believe that their families could have been killed.
Jews could only work now. All normal life, as well as religious and cultural life, came to a standstill. Animals still had protection under the law, but to be a Jew in Latvia meant that you are less than an animal. The only thing you can do is work and die. This was the attitude of the Germans and Latvians. Every day, every inhabitant of the small Ghetto had to go to work. It was nearly impossible to stay home; it was safer to be working for a German army unit. The SS sometimes picked up a group of workers and returned only half of the men or women to the Ghetto. The rest were never seen or heard from. Any Jews was willing to work for the German army because it was a chance of survival, and some food was made available for the workers. Also, they had a chance to make contact with some Latvians who were willing to help some Jews, for a certain price, and trade some food. This group of Latvians was only a small minority, but it existed. Many Latvians were afraid to help Jews because they endangered their lives in doing so. Under the German decree any person who had contact with, or protected a Jew, was liable to arrest and prosecution. The majority of those who helped a Jew did it for personal gain. Something was always wanted in return for the slice of bread given to a Jew.
After the great action on November 30, 1941, life in the Ghetto returned to a normal routine. Even so, people were very apprehensive and wondering what was ahead next. Some younger men who wanted to go in the smaller part of Ghetto were hindered by the guards. In the mean time, some Latvians told some Jews on the work commandos that all women and children have been shot. Those who heard this did not want to believe this and kept their mouths shout, while others spread the rumour. The majority were undecided what to do until they were woken up early on the morning of December 6, 1941. They could see very little in the dark but they heard a lot of noise and shooting. This was going on in the Ghetto were the women and children were. With the arrival of daylight, they could see that the SS were breaking down the doors and forcing the inhabitants out of the houses. Those who resisted were shot on the spot. The SS tried to form people in to columns to march them out in to Ghetto. It was a repetition to what had happen a week before. A week before people walk like lambs, but this time they resisted and a lot of beating and shooting was going on. It was snowing heavily and people had a hard time to walk on the street. All males in the small Ghetto had to leave for work and only few could hide and watch the massacre scenes that were going on across the barbed wire. The brutality of the German and the Latvian SS, as well the police forces, had no limit. They were going from top to bottom through the houses and forcing everybody, dressed or undressed, into the streets. Screaming, beating and shooting was going on unabated. It looked as if the world had come to an end. Everyone was taken, even those who have served the Germans. The eldest of the Jews, as well as the Jewish police (who had been protected before) were taken, and the entire Ghetto was cleaned out. They were marched in the direction towards Dvinsk. They actually marched into the Forest of Rumbuli, where they all were shot.
Mass execution in the area of Task Force 8
A couple of horse wagons that had to follow the columns of men has to pick up the bodies of the killed people and their luggage. In the afternoon when the Jewish workers returned to the small Ghetto, they were taken to remove the bodies that were lying around in that area which was once the big Ghetto. Here they could see the inhuman behaviour of the Latvians and Germans. Nearly 900 men, women and children had been killed in the Ghetto because they resisted or could not move fast enough. This time it was far worse than the first action on November 30, 1941. Some of the clean-up people were shot by the police sergeant (Oberwachtmeister) Otto Tuchel because they did not move fast enough for his liking. Tuchel was in charge of the guards in and outside of the Ghetto and one of the worst sadists and Jew haters the Germans had in their ranks. He competed with the Latvians and it is a question of who killed the most Jews. This time nearly 12,000 to 14,000 Jews were removed from the Ghetto and about 3,000 to 4,000 Jewish slaves were left alive. I [Mr. Winter, sic] would estimate that nearly 28,000 to 30,000 Jews were killed in the two actions alone. The exact number is not known because some Jews who had survived the massacre in other towns an villages came into the Ghetto of Riga and added to the count of the survivors.
A few days later an apartment block on Ludzas Street was enclosed with barbed wire. . The 250 women who were in prison, plus some other women who were held at the place of work during the action, were brought into the Ghetto and put into the apartment block, separated from men. Their total may have been close to 300 women. Close to 20% of the Jewish population (mostly men) of Riga had been killed prior to the two big actions. Therefore and estimate of 34,000 to 35,000 men, women and children of the Jews from Riga, had been killed between June 30, 1941, and December 6, 1941, would be correct.
After the second action no one believed the Germans any-more and every survivor feared the worst for his family, despite assurances given by the Germans. Some drunken Latvians told a different tale than the Germans did. A few days later with the arrival of the German Jews, the reality began to sink in.
The mastermind of the mass likings was from the German side, an SS General, Jekeln, who stated in his trial after the war: Latvia was the right place and had the wager and willing people to eliminate the Jews. Anti-Semitism was so high in Latvia that no one had to convince the Latvian helpers that it was Hitler’s plan to kill the Jews. They would have done it without German help. His assistant was General Stahlecker, who was in charge of Einsatzgruppe A (Special commando) and commanding officer of the Security Police Ostland. Stahlecker was killed in January 1942 by Partisans. Next came Dr. Jur. R. Lange, who was the commander of the Security Police in Latvia. Lange was a sadist and killer like the world never had seen before. He committed suicide towards the end of the war to escape the hangman’s noose. Lange had, in the Security Police, many willing helpers who followed his orders to kill Jews. On the Latvian side was Major Arreis, the leader of t he Latvian SS, plus his helper Cucurs. (Arreis survived the war and is in a German jail. His helper Cucurs was killed in South America under unknown circumstances. ) Then there was the police chief of Riga named Stieglics who was a willing helper in the massacre. Also an army Lt. named Danscop and his gang were willing helpers. Man members of the Perconcrust and the Aisargi, plus auxiliary police out did the Germans when it came to atrocities towards the Jews. These murderous gangs did most of the killings in small towns with or without the assistance of the Germans. The Germans and Latvians did everything they could to demoralize the survivors of the massacres. They were completely cut off from the outside world and kept on a food ration which was too little to live on but not little enough to die a fast death. They had to work seven days a week and were the slaves of the twentieth century. Any infraction meant a beating and an instant death. Housing and living conditions were far below normal standards and up to 10 persons had to sleep on the floor in a small room. Quite a few people were in the age group of 14 to 16 years, and had to grow up over night to face a hostile word without their families. This was the beginning of the darkest hour for the Jewry of Europe.
A notice to the Jews of the ghetto stating that anyone who fails to properly greet a German clerk shall be punished
The "large ghetto" had been cleared of Latvian Jews. Mr. Winter wrote that German Jews deported from the government district of Düsseldorf, Germany had spent the previous day and night in unheated and now frozen railroad freight cars on a railroad siding at Skirotava station. On the morning of December 15 they were marched through the cold and snow to the Riga Ghetto. Mr. Winter continues...
When they entered the houses their eyes split wide open by the sight what greeted them. But they had no time to grasp it because other people were pushing and were looking for shelter. Some ten to fifteen people were in one room and it was standing room only. After a while it calmed down and some people were taken out in order that everybody could sit down. Then it finally started to dawn on them, that something terrible had happened when they looked around. There was frozen cooked food on the table, blood stained clothing on the floor, and baby carriages with a bottle of frozen milk, outside in the snow, overturned furniture and ransacked closets.
On the outer clothing, they could see that the former inhabitants were Jews because two stars of David were on the clothing but without the inscription (Jude "Jew") which they were wearing on the breast of their clothing. The former transport leader and group leader from Düsseldorf (a teacher from Neuss with the name Nussbaum) came around and took some people out because more houses had been opened up. When somebody asked him what was going on, he told them that he knew just as much as the rest of the deportees even though he had some authority. Authority he had, and if anyone in the Ghetto misused his authority, it was him. He was nearly one hundred percent in cooperation with the Germans, and he was open for bribes, from the first day on. While the new arrivals were considering their fate, a shot rang out. When they looked out of the window, they saw a woman lying in the snow who had crossed over to the other side of the street and had been shot by a Latvian guard. From that moment, the reality sank in that the resettlement was more than just a resettlement and that rough times lay ahead.

continued under Part 2

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