The RUMBULA MASSACRE is a collective term for incidents on two
non-consecutive days (November 30 and December 8, 1941) in which about
25,000 Jews were killed in or on the way to Rumbula forest near
Latvia , during the Holocaust . Except for the
Babi Yar massacre in
Ukraine , this was the biggest two-day Holocaust atrocity until the
operation of the death camps . About 24,000 of the victims were
Latvian Jews from the
Ghetto and approximately 1,000 were German
Jews transported to the forest by train. The
Rumbula massacre was
carried out by the Nazi
Einsatzgruppe A with the help of local
collaborators of the
Arajs Kommando , with support from other such
Latvian auxiliaries. In charge of the operation was Higher SS and
Friedrich Jeckeln , who had previously overseen similar
Rudolf Lange , who later participated in the
Wannsee Conference , also took part in organising the massacre. Some
of the accusations against Latvian
Herberts Cukurs are related to the
clearing of the
Ghetto by the Arajs Kommando. The Rumbula
killings, together with many others, formed the basis of the
World War II
World War II
Einsatzgruppen trial where a number of
Einsatzgruppen commanders were found guilty of crimes against
* 1 Nomenclature
* 2 Location
The Holocaust in
* 3.1 Involvement of local population
* 3.2 Creation of the
* 4 Entry of
* 4.1 Motive
* 4.2 Planning the massacre
* 4.3 Deciding on the site
* 4.4 The Jeckeln system
* 4.5 Arranging transport for infirm victims
* 4.6 Final planning and instructions
* 5 Advance knowledge by
* 6 Preparation for the massacre
* 6.1 Able-bodied men separated from the others
* 6.2 First transport of German Jews arrives in
* 6.3 Women, children and elderly forced out of ghetto
* 6.4 Ten kilometer march to the killing pits
* 7 Arrival at Rumbula and murder
* 7.1 Official witnesses
* 7.2 Later murders and body disposal in the ghetto
* 7.3 Aftermath at the pits on the first day
* 8 Reaction among the survivors
* 9 The December 8 murders
* 10 December 9 massacre
* 11 Effect of Rumbula on plans for the Holocaust
* 11.1 German Jews replace Latvians in
* 11.2 The
* 12 Later actions at the site
* 13 Justice
* 14 See also
* 15 Notes
* 16 References
* 16.1 Historiographical
* 16.2 War crimes trials and evidence
* 17 Further reading
* 18 External links
This massacre is known by different names, including "The Big
Action", and the "Rumbula Action", but in
Latvia it is just called
"Rumbula" or "Rumbuli". It is sometimes called the Jeckeln Action
after its commander
Friedrich Jeckeln The word "Aktion", which
translates literally to action or operation in English, was used by
the Nazis as a euphemism for murder. For Rumbula, the official
euphemism was "shooting action" (Erschiessungsaktion). In the
Einsatzgruppen trial before the Nuremberg Military Tribunal , the
event was not given a name but simply described as "the murder of
10,600 Jews" on 30 November 1941.
Rumbula was a small railroad station 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) south of
Riga , the capital and major city of Latvia, which was connected with
Daugavpils , the second largest city in Latvia, by the rail line along
the north side of the
Daugava river . Located on a hill about 250
meters (820 ft) from the station, the massacre site was a "rather open
and accessible place". The view was blocked by vegetation, but the
sound of gunfire would have been audible from the station grounds. The
area lay between the rail line and the Riga-
Daugavpils highway, with
the rail line to the north of the highway. Rumbula was part of a
forest and swamp area known in Latvian as Vārnu mežs, which means
Crow Forest in English. The sounds of gun fire could be and were
heard from the highway. The Nazi occupation authorities carried out a
number of other massacres on the north bank of the Daugava in the
Rumbula vicinity. The soil was sandy and it was easy to dig graves.
While the surrounding pine woods were sparse, there was a heavily
forested area in the center which became the execution site. The rail
line and highway made it easy to move the victims in from
Riga (it had
to be within walking distance of the
Ghetto on the southeast side
of the city), as well as transport the murderers and their arms.
THE HOLOCAUST IN LATVIA
Hinrich Lohse His policy of
concentrating the Jews of
Latvia into the
Riga ghetto made it easier
Friedrich Jeckeln and his unit to kill approximately 24,000 in two
days at Rumbula near Riga.
The Holocaust in
Latvia began on June 22, 1941, when the German army
invaded the Soviet Union, including the
Baltic States of
Latvia , and
Estonia that had been recently occupied by Soviet forces
following a period of independence after
World War I
World War I . Murders of
Jews, Communists, and others began almost immediately, perpetrated by
German killer squads known as
Einsatzgruppen (which can be translated
Special Task Groups" or "
Special Assignment Groups"), and also
other organizations, including the German Security Police
Sicherheitspolizei or Sipo) and the Security Service of the SS
Sicherheitsdienst or SD). The first murders were on the night of June
23, 1941, in the town of Grobina, near
Liepāja , where Sonderkommando
1a members murdered six Jews in the church cemetery. The Nazi
occupiers were also aided by a unit of native Latvians known as the
Arājs Commando , and at least to some extent by Latvian auxiliary
INVOLVEMENT OF LOCAL POPULATION
The Nazis wished to make it appear as if the local populations of
Latvians were responsible for the murders of the Jews. They attempted,
without much success, to stir up local deadly riots, known as
"pogroms" , against the Jews. They spread rumors that Jews were
responsible for widespread arson and other crimes, and even reported
the same to their superiors. This policy of incitement to what the
Nazis called "self-cleansing actions" was acknowledged to be a failure
Franz Walter Stahlecker
Franz Walter Stahlecker , who, as chief of Einsatzgruppe A, was the
Nazis' main killing expert in the Baltic states.
CREATION OF THE RIGA GHETTO
Wikisource has original text related to this article: DIRECTIONS
CONCERNING TREATMENT OF JEWISH PROPERTY 13 OCTOBER 1941
Wikisource has original text related to this article: COMPREHENSIVE
REPORT OF EINSATZGRUPPE A UP TO 15 OCTOBER 1941
The SD's goal was to make
Latvia judenrein, a Nazi neologism which
can be translated as "
Jew purified." By October 15, 1941, the Nazis
had murdered up to 30,000 of the approximately 66,000 Jews that had
not been able to flee the country before the Nazi occupation was
Hinrich Lohse , who reported to
Alfred Rosenberg rather
than the SD's boss,
Heinrich Himmler , wanted not so much to
exterminate the Jews but rather to steal all their property, confine
them to ghettos, and work them as slave laborers for Germany's war
effort. This bureaucratic conflict slowed down the pace of killing in
September and October 1941. Lohse, as part of the "civil
administration" was perceived by the SD as resisting their plans. On
November 15, 1941, Lohse asked for directions from Rosenberg as to
whether all Jews were to be murdered "regardless of economic
considerations." By the end of October, Lohse had confined all the
Riga , as well some of the surrounding area, into a ghetto
within the city, the gates of which were about 10 kilometers from
Ghetto was a creation of the Nazis themselves, and
had not existed before the war.
ENTRY OF FRIEDRICH JECKELN
Friedrich Jeckeln and
Friedrich Jeckeln in
Soviet custody after
World War II
World War II . On January 27, 1942, he was
War Merit Cross
War Merit Cross First Class with Swords
(Kriegsverdienstkreuz or KVK) for his ruthless efficiency.
Himmler's motive was to eliminate the
Latvian Jews in
Riga so that
Jews from Germany and Austria could be deported to the
Riga ghetto and
housed in their place. Similarly motivated mass murders of eastern
Jews confined to ghettos were carried out at Kovno on October 28, 1941
(10,000 dead), and at Minsk, where 13,000 were shot on November 7 and
an additional 7,000 on November 20. To carry out this plan, Himmler
Friedrich Jeckeln into
Latvia from the
Ukraine , where he had
organized a number of mass murders, including
Babi Yar (30,000 dead).
Jeckeln's crew of about 50 killers and supporting personnel arrived in
Riga on November 5, 1941. Jeckeln did not arrive with them, but went
Berlin where sometime between November 10 and November 12,
1941, he met with Himmler. Himmler told Jeckeln to kill the entire
Riga ghetto and to instruct Lohse, should he object that this was an
order of Himmler's and also of
Adolf Hitler 's: "Tell Lohse it is my
order, which is also the Führer's wish".
Jeckeln then went to
Riga and explained the situation to Lohse, who
raised no further objection. By mid-November 1941, Jeckeln had set
himself up in a building in the old section of
Riga known as the
Ritterhaus. Back in Berlin, Rosenberg, Lohse's superior in the Nazi
hierarchy, was able to get one concession out of Himmler, that slave
labor extracted from male Jews aged 16–60 would be considered too
important to Germany's war effort. Consequently, these people would be
spared, while women, children, old and disabled people would be shot.
Jeckeln's plan for carrying out this segregation of the victims came
to be known as the "Little Ghetto".
PLANNING THE MASSACRE
Franz Walter Stahlecker
Franz Walter Stahlecker , another perpetrator of the
Latvian Holocaust, prepared this map. Illustrated with coffins, it
shows there were still 35,000 Jews remaining in
Latvia before the
Estonia , the report states, is "Jew-free"
To fulfill Himmler's order to clear out the Ghetto, Jeckeln would
need to kill 12,000 people per day. At that time of year, there were
only about eight hours of day and twilight, so, the last column of
victims would have to leave the
Riga ghetto no later than 12:00 noon.
Guards would be posted on both sides along the entire 10 kilometer
column route. The whole process required about 1,700 personnel to
carry it out.
Jeckeln's construction specialist, Ernst Hennicker , who later
claimed he was shocked when he learned in advance of the number of
people to be murdered, nevertheless made no objection at the time and
proceeded to supervise the digging of six murder pits, sufficient to
bury 25,000 people. The actual excavation of the pits was done by 200
or 300 Russian prisoners of war. The pits themselves were
purpose-designed: they were excavated in levels, like an inverted
pyramid, with the broader levels towards the top, and a ramp down to
the different levels to allow the victims to be literally marched into
their own graves. It took about three days to finish the pits which
were complete by November 23, 1941.
The actual shooting was done by 10 or 12 men of Jeckeln's bodyguard,
including Endl, Lueschen, and Wedekind, all experienced murderers.
Much later, Jeckeln's driver, Johannes Zingler, claimed in testimony
that Jeckeln had forced him to join in as a killer by making threats
to harm Zingler's family. In similar massacres in Russia and the
Ukraine, there were many accounts contrary to Zingler's to the effect
that participation was voluntary, and even sometimes sought after, and
that those who refused to take part in shootings suffered no adverse
consequences. In particular, Erwin Schulz, head of
refused to participate in
Babi Yar , another Jeckeln atrocity, and at
his own request was transferred back to his pre-war position in Berlin
with no loss of professional standing.
Jeckeln had no Latvians carrying out shootings. Jeckeln considered
the shooting of the victims in the pits to be a deed of marksmanship,
and he wanted to prove Germans were inherently more accurate shooters
than Latvians. Jeckeln also didn't trust other agencies, even Nazi
ones, to carry out his wishes. Although the SD and the Order Police
were involved, Jeckeln assigned his own squad to supervise every
aspect of the operation.
DECIDING ON THE SITE
Ghetto in 1942, after the
Jeckeln and his aide Paul Degenhart searched the
Riga vicinity to
find a site.
Riga was located in a swampy area where the water table
was close to ground level. This would interfere with the proper
disposal of thousands of corpses. Jeckeln needed elevated ground. The
site also had to be on the north side of the
Daugava River within
walking distance of the ghetto, also on the north side. On or about
November 18 or 19 Jeckeln came upon Rumbula as he was driving south
Salaspils concentration camp (then under construction), and it
fit what he was looking for. The site was close to Riga, it was on
elevated ground, and it had sandy soil, with the only drawback being
the proximity to the highway (about 100 meters).
THE JECKELN SYSTEM
Jeckeln developed his "Jeckeln system" during the many murders he had
organized in the Ukraine, which included among others
Babi Yar and the
Massacre . He called it "sardine packing"
(Sardinenpackung). The Jeckeln method was noted, although not by
name, in the judgment of the
Einsatzgruppen commanders at Nuremberg
Military Tribunal, as a means of avoiding the extra work associated
with having to push the bodies into the grave. It was reported that
even some of the experienced
Einsatzgruppen killers claimed to have
been horrified by its cruelty. Extermination by shooting ran into a
problem when it came to women and children.
Otto Ohlendorf , himself
a prolific killer, objected to Jeckeln's techniques according to his
testimony at his post-war trial for crimes against humanity. Jeckeln
had staff which specialized in each separate part of the process,
including Genickschußspezialisten -- "neck shot specialists". There
were nine components to this assembly-line method as applied to the
* The Security Police roused the people out of their houses in the
* The Jews were organized into columns of 1000 people and marched to
the killing grounds;
* The German Order Police (
Ordnungspolizei or Orpo) led the columns
* Three pits had already been dug where the killing would be done
* The victims were stripped of their clothing and valuables;
* The victims were run through a double cordon of guards on the way
to the killing pits;
* To save the trouble of tossing dead bodies into the pits, the
killers forced the living victims into the trench on top of other
people who had already been shot;
* Russian submachine guns (another source says semi-automatic
pistols ) were used rather than German arms, because the magazine held
50 rounds, but the weapon could be set to fire one round at a time.
* The killers forced the victims to lie face down on the trench
floor, or more often, on the bodies of the people had just been shot.
The people were not sprayed with bullets. Rather, to save ammunition,
each person was shot just once, in the back of the head. Anyone not
murdered outright was simply buried alive when the pit was covered up.
ARRANGING TRANSPORT FOR INFIRM VICTIMS
Jeckeln had at his direct disposal 10 to 12 automobiles and 6 to 8
motorcycles. This was enough to transport the killers themselves and
certain official witnesses. Jeckeln needed more and heavier transport
for the sick, disabled or other of his intended victims who could not
make the 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) march. Jeckeln also anticipated there
would be a significant number of people murdered along the march
route, and he would need about 25 trucks to pick up the bodies.
Consequently, he ordered his men to scrounge through
Riga to locate
FINAL PLANNING AND INSTRUCTIONS
On or about Thursday, November 27, 1941, Jeckeln held a meeting of
the leaders of the participating units at the
Riga office of the
Protective Police (Schutzpolizei) , a branch of the German Order
Ordnungspolizei ) to coordinate their actions in the
forthcoming massacre. This appears consistent with the substantial
role that the Order Police played in the Holocaust, as stated by
It is no longer seriously in question that members of the German
Order Police, both career professionals and reservists, in both
battalion formations and precinct service or Einzeldienst, were at the
center of the Holocaust, providing a major manpower source for
carrying out numerous deportations, ghetto-clearing operations, and
Jeckeln convened a second planning session of senior commanders on
the afternoon of Saturday, November 29, 1941, this time at the
Ritterhaus. According to later versions given by those in attendance,
Jeckeln gave a speech to these officers to the effect that it was
their patriotic duty to exterminate the Jews of the
Riga ghetto, just
as much as if they were on the front lines of the battles then
currently raging far to the east. Officers also later claimed that
Jeckeln told them that failure to participate in the murders would be
considered the equivalent of desertion, and that all HSSPF personnel
who would not be participating in the action were required to attend
the extermination site as official witnesses. No Latvian officials
were present at the November 29 Ritterhaus meeting.
At about 7:00 p.m. on November 29, a brief (about 15 minutes) third
meeting was held, this time at the Protective Police headquarters.
This was presided over by Karl Heise , the head of the protective
police. He told his men they would have to report the next morning at
4:00 a.m. to carry out a "resettlement" of the people in the Riga
ghetto. Although "resettlement" was a Nazi euphemism for mass murder,
Heisse and a majority of men of the participating Protective Police
knew the true nature of the action. Final instructions were also
passed to the Latvian militia and police who would be rounding up
people in the ghetto and acting as guards along the way. The Latvian
police were told they would be moving the Jews to the Rumbula station
for transport to a resettlement camp.
In the Jahnke trial in the early 1970s, the West German court in
Hamburg found that a purpose of the Jeckeln system was to conceal the
murderous purpose until the very last. The court further found:
* That by the evening meeting on November 29, 1941, the intermediate
commanders knew the full extent of the intended murders;
* That the intermediate commanders also knew that the 20 kilogram
luggage rule was a ruse to deceive the victims into a belief that they
were truly being resettled;
* That the men in the lower ranks did not know what was planned
until they saw the shootings in the forest.
Professor Ezergailis questioned whether the Latvian police might have
had a better idea of what was actually going to happen, this being
their native country, but he also noted contrary evidence including
misleading instructions given to the Latvian police by the Germans,
and the giving of instructions, at least to some Germans, to shoot any
guard who might fail to execute a "disobedient"
Jew during the course
of the march.
ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE BY WEHRMACHT
According to his later testimony before the Nuremberg Military
Tribunal at the
High Command Trial , Walter Bruns , a Major General of
Engineers, learned on November 28 that planned mass executions would
soon take place in Riga. Bruns sent a report to his superiors, then
urged a certain "administrative officer", named Walter Altemeyer to
postpone the action until Bruns could receive a response. Altemeyer
told Bruns that the operation was being carried out pursuant to a
"Führer-order". Bruns then sent out two officers to observe and
report. Advance word of the planned murders reached the Wehrmacht
intelligence office ("
Abwehr ") in Riga. This office, which was not
connected with the massacre, had received a cable shortly before the
executions began, from Admiral
Wilhelm Canaris , which in summary
Abwehr that "it is unworthy of an intelligence
officer to be party to, or even present at interrogations or
maltreatments". By "interrogations and maltreatments", Canaris was
referring to the planned massacre.
PREPARATION FOR THE MASSACRE
ABLE-BODIED MEN SEPARATED FROM THE OTHERS
On about November 27, 1941 a four-block area of the
Riga ghetto was
cordoned off with barbed wire, and this area became known as the
"small ghetto". On November 28, the Nazis issued an order requiring
the able-bodied men to move to the small ghetto and the rest of the
population was to report at 6:00 a.m. on November 30 to a different
area for "light work" with no more than a 20-kilogram (44 lb) bag. The
reaction among the Jews was one of horror. In July and August, it was
the men of
Latvia who were shot first, while the women and children
were allowed to live, at least for a time. The order for the men to
separate themselves from their families was thus perceived as a
predicate for the murder of the men, the arrangements between
Rosenberg and Himmler having been made without their knowledge. By the
morning of Saturday, November 29, the Nazis had finished segregating
the able-bodied men into the small ghetto.
Ghetto survivor Max Kaufmann described the scene somewhat
differently, writing that on Thursday morning, November 27, a large
poster was put up on Sadornika Street in the ghetto, which said, among
other things, that on Saturday, November 29, 1941, all inmates of the
ghetto were to form up in columns of 1,000 people each near the ghetto
gate for evacuation from the ghetto. The people living closest to the
gate would be the first to depart. Kaufmann doesn't describe a
specific order separating the able-bodied men from the rest of the
people. Instead he states that "the larger work crews were told they
had the possibility of staying in the newly formed small camp and
rejoining their families later. According to Kaufmann, while the
columns of 1,000 were formed on the morning of the 29th, they were
later dispersed, causing relief among the inhabitants, who believed
that the entire evacuation had been cancelled. 300 women seamstresses
were also selected and moved to the Central Prison from the ghetto.
Professor Ezergailis states that while the men were at work, the
Nazis culled the able-bodied men from those left in the ghetto, and
once the work crews returned, the same process was employed again on
the returning workers. The total, about 4,000 able-bodied men, were
sent to the newly created small ghetto. Kaufmann states that after
returning from work on the 29th, he and his son, then aged 16, would
not return to the large ghetto, but were housed instead in a ruined
building on Vilanu Street in the small ghetto.
FIRST TRANSPORT OF GERMAN JEWS ARRIVES IN RIGA
The first transport of German Jews to
Thursday, November 27, 1941 and arrived in
Riga on Saturday, November
29, 1941. Whether the Jews were to be worked and starved to death over
time, or simply murdered outright had not yet been decided upon.
Apparently at the last minute, Himmler decided he did not want these
German Jews murdered immediately; his plan instead was to house them
Ghetto in the dwellings to be made available from the
murder of the Latvian Jews.
For this reason, on Sunday, November 30, 1941, Himmler placed a
telephone call to
Reinhard Heydrich , who, as head of the SD was also
Jeckeln's boss. According to Himmler's telephone log, his order to
Heydrich was that the Jews on the transport from
Berlin were not to be
murdered, or in the Nazi terminology, "liquidated" (Judentransport aus
Berlin. Keine Liquidierung). Himmler however only made this call at
1:30 in the afternoon that Sunday, and by that time, the people on the
train were dead. What had happened was that there was no housing for
the deported German Jews when they arrived in Riga, so the Nazis left
them on the train. The next morning, the Nazis ran the trainload of
people down to the Rumbula station. They took the people off the
train, marched them the short distance to the crime scene and shot
them all between 8:15 and 9:00 a.m. They were the first group to die
that day. The Nazi euphemism for this crime was that the 1,000 Berlin
Jews had been "disposed of." Thereafter, on December 1, and, in a
personal conference on December 4, 1941, Himmler issued strict
instructions to Jeckeln that no mass murders of deported German Jews
were to occur without his express orders: "The Jews deported into the
territory of the
Ostland are to be dealt with only according to the
guideline given by me and the Reich Security Main Office acting on my
behalf. I will punish unilateral acts and violations."
Jeckeln claimed at his post-war trial that he'd received orders from
Himmler on November 10 or 11, that "all the Jews in the
to the last man must be exterminated." Jeckeln might well have
believed that killing the German Jews on the
Riga transport was what
Himmler wished, for just before the Rumbula massacre, mass murders of
German Jews upon or shortly after arrival in the East had been carried
out in Kaunas, Lithuania, on November 25 and 29, 1941, when the Sipo
murdered 5,000 German and Austrian Jews who had arrived on transports
on November 11, including some 1,000 Jews from Berlin.
Professor Fleming suggests several reasons for Himmler's "no
liquidation" order. On board the train were 40 to 45 people who were
considered "cases of unjustified evacuation", meaning they were either
elderly or had been awarded the
Iron Cross for heroic service to
Germany during the Great War . Another reason may have been that
Himmler hesitated to carry out the execution of German Jews for fear
of the effect that it might have on the attitude the United States,
which as of November 30, 1941, was not yet at war with Germany.
Professor Browning attributes the order and the fact that, with two
significant exceptions, in general further transports of Jews to Riga
from Germany did not result in immediate mass execution, to Himmler's
concern over some of the issues raised by the shooting of German (as
opposed to native) Jews and the desire to postpone the same until it
could be in greater secrecy and at a time when less controversy might
arise among the Nazis themselves.
WOMEN, CHILDREN AND ELDERLY FORCED OUT OF GHETTO
When the columns were dispersed on Saturday, November 29, the ghetto
inhabitants believed, to their relief, that there would be no
evacuation. This proved wrong. The first action in the ghetto began
at 4:00 a.m., well before dawn, on Sunday, November 30, 1941. Working
from west to east (that is, towards Rumbula), squads of the SD, the
Protective Police, the Araji commando, and about 80 Jewish ghetto
police rousted people from their sleep and told them to report for
assembly in half an hour. Max Kaufmann describes the raid as
beginning in the middle of the night on the 29th. He describes
"thousands" of "absolutely drunk" Germans and Latvians invading the
ghettos, bursting into apartments, and hunting down the occupants
while shouting wildly. He states that children were thrown from third
floor windows. Detachments cut special openings in the fence to allow
more rapid access to the highway south to the forest site. (Detailed
maps of the ghetto are provided by Ezergailis and Kaufmann.)
Even though the able-bodied men were gone, people still resisted
being forced out of their dwellings and tried to desert from the
columns as they moved through the eastern part of the ghetto. The
Nazis murdered 600 to 1,000 people in the process of forcing out the
people. Eventually columns of about 1,000 people were formed and
marched out. The first column was led by the lawyer, Dr. Eljaschow.
"The expression on his face showed no disquiet whatsoever; on the
contrary, because everyone was looking at him, he made an effort to
smile hopefully." Next to Dr. Eljaschow was Rabbi Zack. Other
well-known citizens of
Riga were in the columns. Among the guards
were Altmeyer, Jäger, and
Herberts Cukurs . Cukurs, a world-famous
pilot, was the most recognizable Latvian SD man at the scene, whom
Kaufmann described as follows:
The Latvian murderer Cukurs got out of a car wearing a leather pistol
(Nagan) at his side. He went to the Latvian guards to give them
various instructions. He had certainly been informed in detail about
the great catastrophe that awaited us. — Churbn Lettland - The
Destruction of the Jews of
Andrew Ezergailis states that "although Arajs' men
were not the only ones on the ghetto end of the operation, to the
degree they participated in the atrocities there the chief
responsibility rests on Herberts Cukurs' shoulders."
The Jews were allowed to carry some luggage as a sham, to create the
impression among the victims that they were simply being resettled.
Frida Michelson , one of the few survivors of the massacre at the
pits, later described what she saw that day:
It was already beginning to get light. An unending column of people,
guarded by armed policemen, was passing by. Young women, women with
infants in their arms, old women, handicapped, helped by their
neighbors, young boys and girls -- all marching, marching. Suddenly,
in front of our window, a German SS man started firing with an
automatic gun point blank into the crowd. People were mowed down by
the shots, and fell on the cobblestones. There was confusion in the
column. People were trampling over those who had fallen, they were
pushing forward, away from the wildly shooting SS man. Some were
throwing away their packs so they could run faster. The Latvian
policemen were shouting 'Faster, faster' and lashing whips over the
heads of the crowd.
... The columns of people were moving on and on, sometimes at a half
run, marching, trotting, without end. There one, there another, would
fall and they would walk right over them, constantly being urged on by
the policemen, 'Faster, faster', with their whips and rifle butts.
... I stood by the window and watched until about midday when the
horror of the march ended ... . Now the street was quiet, nothing
moved. Corpses were scattered all over, rivulets of blood still oozing
from the lifeless bodies. They were mostly old people, pregnant women,
children, handicapped -- all those who could not keep up with the
inhuman tempo of the march. — Frida Michelson, I Survived
Rumbuli, pp. 77-8
TEN KILOMETER MARCH TO THE KILLING PITS
The first column of people, accompanied by about 50 guards, left the
ghetto at 06:00 hours. On November 30, 1941, the air temperatures
Riga were −7.5 °C (18.5 °F) at 07:00 hours, −1.1 °C
(30.0 °F) at 09:00, and 1.9 °C (35.4 °F) at 21:00. The previous
evening there had been a snowfall of 7 cm (2.8 in), but no snow fell
on November 30 from 07:00 to 21:00. The people could not keep up the
pace demanded by the guards and the column kept stretching out. The
guards murdered anyone who fell out of the column or stopped to rest
along the 10-kilometer (6.2 mi) march route. German guards, when
later tried for war crimes, claimed it was the Latvians who did most
of the killing. In Latvia, however, there were stories about Latvian
policemen refusing orders to shoot people.
ARRIVAL AT RUMBULA AND MURDER
The first column of people arrived at Rumbula at about 9:00 am on
November 30. The people were ordered to disrobe and deposit their
clothing and valuables in designated locations and collection boxes,
shoes in one, overcoats in another, and so forth. Luggage was
deposited before the Jews entered the wood. They were then marched
towards the murder pits. If there were too many people arriving to be
readily murdered immediately, they were held in the nearby forest
until their turn came. As the piles of clothing became huge, members
of the Arajs Commando loaded the articles on trucks to be transported
back to Riga. The disrobing point was watched carefully by the
killers, because it was here that there was a pause in the
conveyor-like system, where resistance or rebellion might arise.
The people were then marched down the ramps into the pits, in single
file ten at time, on top of previously shot victims, many of whom were
still alive. Some people wept, others prayed and recited the
Handicapped and elderly people were helped into the pit by other
The victims were made to lie face down on top of those who had
already been shot and were still writhing and heaving, oozing blood,
sing of brains and excrement. With their Russian automatic weapons set
on single shots, the marksmen murdered the Jews from a distance of
about two meters with a shot in the backs of their heads. One bullet
per person was allotted in the Jeckeln system. — Andrew
The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1944: The Missing Center,
The shooting continued past sundown into the twilight, probably
ending at about 5:00 p.m., when darkness fell. (The evidence is in
conflict about when the shooting ended. One source says the shooting
went on well into the evening. ) Their aim may have been worsened by
the twilight, as Nazi police Major Karl Heise , who had gone back and
Riga and the killing site that day, suffered the
misfortune of having been hit in the eye by a ricochet bullet.
Jeckeln himself described Rumbula at his trial in early 1946.
Q: Who did the shooting?
A: Ten or twelve German SD soldiers.
Q: What was the procedure?
A: All of the Jews went by foot from the ghetto in
Riga to the
liquidation site. Near the pits, they had to deposit their
overclothes, which were washed, sorted, and shipped back to Germany.
Jews - men, women, and children - passed through police cordons on
their way to the pits, where they were shot by German soldiers.
— Jeckeln interrogation excerpts
The shooters fired from the brink of the smaller pits. For the larger
pits, they walked down in the graves among the dead and dying to shoot
additional victims. Captain Otto Schulz-Du Bois, of the Engineer
Reserves of the German Army, was in the area on bridge and road
inspection duties, when he heard "intermittent but persistent reports
of gunfire". Schulz-Du Bois stopped to investigate, and because
security was weak, was able to observe the murders. A few months later
he described what he saw to friends in Germany, who in 1980 reported
what Schulz-Du Bois had told them:
The first thing he came upon was a huge heap of clothes, then men,
women, children and elderly people standing in a line and dressed in
their underclothing. The head of the line ended in a small wood by a
mass gravesite. Those first in line had to leap into the pit and then
were murdered with a pistol bullet in the head. Six SS men were busy
with this grisly chore. The victims maintained a perfect composure.
There were no outcries, only light sobbing and crying, and saying
soothing words to the children. — Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the
Jeckeln required high-ranking Nazis to witness the Rumbula murders.
Jeckeln himself stood at the top of the pits personally directing the
shooters. National Commissioner (Reichskommissar) for the
Hinrich Lohse was there, at least for a while. Dr. Otto Heinrich
Drechsler , the Territorial Commissioner (Gebietskommissar) of Latvia
may have been present. Roberts Osis , the chief of the Latvian
collaborationist militia (Schutzmannschaft) was present for much of
Viktors Arajs , who was drunk, worked very close to the pits
supervising the Latvian men of his commando, who were guarding and
funnelling the victims into the pits.
LATER MURDERS AND BODY DISPOSAL IN THE GHETTO
Karl Heise returned from Rumbula to the
Riga ghetto by about 1:00
p.m. There he discovered that about 20 Jews too sick to be moved had
been taken not to the murder site but rather to the hospital. Heise
ordered they be taken out of the hospital, placed on the street on
straw mattresses and shot in the head. Killers of the patients in the
street included members of the Schutzpolizei, Hesfer, Otto Tuchel, and
Neuman, among others. There were still the hundreds of bodies left
from the morning's forced evacuation. A squad of able-bodied Jews was
delegated to pick them up and take them to the Jewish cemetery using
sleds, wheelbarrows and horse carts. Not every one who had been shot
down in the streets was dead; those still alive were finished off by
the Arajs commando. Individual graves were not dug at the cemetery.
Instead. using dynamite, the Nazi blew out a large crater in the
ground, into which the dead were dumped without ceremony.
AFTERMATH AT THE PITS ON THE FIRST DAY
By the end of the first day about 13,000 people had been shot but not
all were dead. Kaufman reported that "the earth still heaved for a
long time because of the many half-dead people." Wounded naked people
were wandering about as late as 11:00 am the next day, seeking help
but getting none. In the words of Professor Ezergailis:
The pit itself was still alive; bleeding and writhing bodies were
regaining consciousness. ... Moans and whimpers could be heard well
into the night. There were people who had been only slightly wounded,
or not hit at all; they crawled out of the pit. Hundreds must have
smothered under the weight of human flesh. Sentries were posted at the
pits and a unit of Latvian Schutzmannschaften was sent out to guard
the area. The orders were to liquidate all survivors on the spot.
— Andrew Ezergailis,
The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1944: The
Missing Center, p. 255
According to historian Bernard Press, himself a survivor of the
Holocaust in Latvia:
Four young women initially escaped the bullets. Naked and trembling,
they stood before their murderers' gun barrels and screamed in extreme
mortal agony that they were Latvians, not Jews. They were believed and
taken back to the city. The next morning Jeckeln himself decided their
fate. One was indeed Latvian and had been adopted as a child by Jews.
The others were Jewish. One of them hoped for support from her first
husband, Army Lieutenant Skuja. Asked on the telephone about her
nationality, he answered that she was a
Jew and he was not interested
in her fate. She was murdered. The second woman received no mercy from
Jeckeln, because she was the Latvian wife of a
Jew engaged in Judaic
studies. With this answer she signed her death warrant, for Jeckeln
decided she was "tainted by Judaism." Only the third girl, Ella
Medalje, was clever enough to give Jeckeln plausible answers and thus
escaped with her life. — The Murder of the Jews in Latvia, pp.
REACTION AMONG THE SURVIVORS
The ghetto itself was a scene of mass murder after the departure of
the columns on November 30, as Kaufmann described:
Ludzas street in the center of the ghetto was full of murdered
people. Their blood flowed in the gutters. In the houses there were
also countless people who had been shot. Slowly people began to pick
them up. The lawyer Wittenberg had taken this holy task upon himself,
and he mobilized the remaining young people for this task.
— Churbn Lettland - The Destruction of the Jews of
The blood literally ran in the gutters. Frida Michelson, an
eyewitness, recorded that the next day, December 1, there were still
puddles of blood in the street, frozen by then.
The men in the newly created small ghetto were sent out to their work
stations that Sunday, as they had been the day before. On the way,
they saw the columns formed up for the march to Rumbula, and they
heard weeping, screaming, and shooting, but they could learn no
details. The men asked some of the German soldiers with whom they were
acquainted to go to the ghetto to see what happened. These soldiers
did go, but could not gain admission to the ghetto itself. From a
distance, they could still see "many horrible things". They reported
these facts to the Jews of the work detachments, who asked them to be
released early from work to see to their families. At 14:00 hours this
request was granted, at least for a few of the men, and they returned
to the ghetto. They found the streets scattered with things, which
they were directed to collect and carry to the guardhouse. They also
found a small bundle which turned out to be a living child, a baby
aged about four weeks. A Latvian guard took the child away. Kaufmann
believed the child's murder was a certainty.
THE DECEMBER 8 MURDERS
Simon Dubnow 1860-1941, Jewish writer, historian and activist,
of whom a legend arose that on December 8, 1941, he counseled the
Jews in the
Riga ghetto:"Yidn, shreibt un fershreibt" (Yiddish :
"Jews, write and record")
Jeckeln seems to have wanted to continue the murders on December 1,
but did not. Professor Ezergailis proposed that Jeckeln may have been
bothered by problems such the resistance of the Jews in Riga. In any
case, the killing did not resume until Monday, December 8, 1941.
According to Professor Ezergailis, this time 300 Jews were murdered in
forcing people out of the ghetto. (Another source reports that the
brutality in the
Ghetto was worse on December 8 than on November 30.
). It was snowing that Monday, and the people may have believed that
the worst had past. Even so, the columns were formed up and marched
out of the city just as on Sunday, November 30, but with some
differences. The 20 kilogram packs were not carried to the site, as
they had been on November 30, but were left in the ghetto. Their
owners were told that their luggage would be carried on by truck to
the fictitious point of departure for resettlement. Mothers with small
children and older people were told they could ride by sleigh, and
sleighs were in fact available. At least two policemen who had played
some role in the November 30 massacre refused to participate again on
December 8. These were the German Zimmermann and the Latvian Vilnis.
The march itself was fast-paced and brutal. Many people were trampled
Max Kaufmann, one of the men among the work crews in the small
ghetto, was anxious to know what was happening to the people marched
out on December 8. He organized, through bribery, an expedition by
truck ostensibly to gather wood, but actually to follow the columns
and learn their destination. Kaufmann later described what he saw
from the truck as it moved south along the highway from
... we encountered the first evacuees. We slowed down. They were
walking quite calmly, and hardly a sound was heard. The first person
in the procession we met was Mrs. Pola Schmulian * * * Her head was
deeply bowed and she seemed to be in despair. I also saw other
acquaintances of mine among the people marching; the Latvians would
occasionally beat one or another of them with truncheons. * * * On the
way, I counted six murdered people who were lying with their faces in
the snow. — Churbn Lettland - The Destruction of the Jews of
Kaufmann noticed machine guns set closely together in the snow near
the woods, and sixty to eighty soldiers, whom he identified as being
from the German army. The soldier who was driving the truck stated the
machine guns were posted just to prevent escapes. (In his book,
Kaufmann stated he was certain the German army had played a role in
the Rumbula massacre.) They drove on that day down the highway past
Rumbula to the
Salaspils concentration camp, to investigate a rumor
that the Jews had been evacuated to that point. At the camp they
encountered Russian prisoners of war, but no Jews from Riga. The
prisoners told them that they knew nothing about the Jews. Frida
Michelson had been marched out with the column, and she described the
forest as being surrounded by a ring of SS men . Michelson further
described the scene when they arrived at Rumbula that morning:
As we came to the forest we heard shooting again. This was the
horrible portent of our future. If I had any doubts about the
intentions of our tormenters, they were all gone now. ... We were all
numb with terror and followed orders mechanically. We were incapable
of thinking and were submitting to everything like a docile herd of
cattle. — Frida Michelson, I Survived Rumbuli, pp. 85-8
Of the 12,000 people forced out of the ghetto to Rumbula that day,
three known survivors later gave accounts: Frida Michelson, Elle
Madale, and Matiss Lutrins. Michelson survived by pretending to be
dead as victims discarded heaps of shoes on her. Elle Madale claimed
to be a Latvian. Matiss Lutrins, a mechanic, persuaded some Latvian
truck drivers to allow him and his wife (whom the Nazis later found
and murdered) to hide under a truckload of clothing from the victims
that was being hauled back into Riga.
Among those slain on December 8 was
Simon Dubnow , a well known
Jewish writer, historian and activist. Dubnow had fled
Berlin in 1933
when the Nazis took power, seeking safety in Riga. On December 8,
1941, too ill to be marched to the forest, he was murdered in the
ghetto. and was buried in a mass grave. Kaufmann states that after
November 30, Professor Dubnow was brought to live with the families of
the Jewish policemen at 56 Ludzas Street. On December 8, the brutal
Latvian guard overseer Alberts Danskop came to the house and asked
Dubnow if he was a member of the policemen's families. Dubnow said he
was not and Danskop forced him out of the house to join one of the
columns that was marching past at the time. Uproar broke out in the
house and one of the Jewish policemen, whom Kaufmann reports to have
been a German who had won the Iron Cross, rushed out to try and save
Dubnow, but it was too late.
According to another account, Dubnow's killer was a German who had
been a former student. A rumor, which later grew into a legend,
started that Dubnow said to the Jews present at the last moments of
his life: "If you survive, never forget what is happening here, give
evidence, write and rewrite, keep alive each word and each gesture,
each cry and each tear! What is certain is that the SS stole the
historian's library and papers and transported them back to the Reich.
DECEMBER 9 MASSACRE
Some Jews who were not able-bodied working men were able to escape
from the mass actions on November 30 and December 8 and hide in the
new "small ghetto". On December 9, 1941, the Nazis began a third
massacre, this time in the small ghetto. They searched through the
ghetto while the men were out at work. Whoever they found in hiding
was taken out to the Biķernieki forest, on the northeast side of
Riga, in blue buses borrowed from the
Riga municipal authorities,
where they were murdered and buried in mass graves. About 500 people
were murdered in this operation. As with the Rumbula murders,
evacuations from the ghetto ceased at 12 noon.
EFFECT OF RUMBULA ON PLANS FOR THE HOLOCAUST
GERMAN JEWS REPLACE LATVIANS IN RIGA GHETTO
In December 1941, the Nazis continued issuing directions to Jews in
Germany that they were to report to be deported to the East. For most
of these people, because of Himmler's change of plan (as shown in his
"keine Liquiderung" telephone call) they would get a year or two of
life in a ghetto before their turn came to be murdered. One of the
first trains to arrive in
Riga was called the "Bielefeld Transport."
Once the German Jews arrived on the
Riga transports in December, 1941,
they were sent to the ghetto, where they found that the houses had
obviously been left in a hurry. The furnishings in the residences were
in great disarray and some were stained with blood. Frozen but cooked
food was on the tables, and baby carriages with bottles of frozen milk
were outside in the snow. On one wall a German family found the
words written "Mama, farewell." Years later, a German survivor, then
a child, remembers being told "Latvians lived here", with no mention
they were Jews. Another German survivor, Ruth Foster, recounted what
she had heard about the massacre:
We found out later that three days before we arrived, they murdered
Latvian Jews who came into the
Riga and the
surrounding towns. They herded them into a nearby forest where
previously the Russian prisoners of war had dug graves for them, they
had to undress completely, leave their clothes in neat order, and then
they had to go to the edge of the pits where they were mown down with
machine guns. So when we came to the
Riga Ghetto, we lived in the
houses where those poor people had been driven out and murdered.
— Lyn Smith, Remembering: Voices of the Holocaust, pp. 100, 114,
Two months later, German Jews arriving in the ghetto were still
finding bodies of murdered
Latvian Jews in basements and attics.
THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE
This document from the
Wannsee Conference in February 1942 shows
the population of Jews in
Latvia (Lettland) down to 3,500. Main
Rudolf Lange , commander of
Einsatzkommando 2 in
Latvia , was invited
to the infamous
Wannsee Conference to give his perspective on the
Final Solution to the so-called Jewish question. The Nazis
did not find shootings to be a feasible method of murdering millions
of people, in particular because it was observed that even SS troops
were uncomfortable about shooting assimilated German Jews as opposed
to Ostjuden ("Eastern Jews"). The head of the German civil
administration in the Baltic area,
Wilhelm Kube , who had no objection
to killing Jews in general objected to German Jews, "who come from
our own cultural circle", being casually murdered by German soldiers.
LATER ACTIONS AT THE SITE
For more details on this topic, see
Sonderaktion 1005 .
In 1943, apparently concerned about leaving evidence behind, Himmler
ordered that the bodies at Rumbula be dug up and burned. (Similar
actions were taken at
Belzec extermination camp
Belzec extermination camp in German occupied
Poland.) This work was done by a detachment of Jewish slave laborers.
Persons travelling on the railway could readily smell the burning
corpses. In 2001, the President of the Republic of Latvia, Vaira
Vike-Freiberga, who was a child during World War II, spoke at a
60-year anniversary memorial service about the destruction of the
bodies: "We could smell the smoke coming from Rumbula, where corpses
were being dug up and burnt to erase the evidence."
Friedrich Jeckeln , standing at left, at his war crimes trial in
Riga in early 1946
Some of the Rumbula murderers were brought to justice. Hinrich Lohse
and Friedrich Jahnke were prosecuted in West German courts and
sentenced to terms of imprisonment.
Victors Arajs evaded capture for
a long time in West Germany, but was finally sentenced to life
imprisonment in 1979.
Herberts Cukurs escaped to South America, where
he was assassinated, it is said by agents of
Mossad . Eduard Strauch
was convicted in the
Einsatzgruppen case and sentenced to death, but
he died in prison before the sentence could be carried out. Friedrich
Jeckeln was publicly hanged in
Riga on February 3, 1946 following a
trial before the Soviet authorities.
* List of massacres in
* ^ A B Ezergailis 1996b , p. 239.
* ^ A B
Einsatzgruppen trial, p. 16, Indictment, at 6.F: "(F) On 30
November 1941 in Riga, 20 men of
Einsatzkommando 2 participated in the
murder of 10,600 Jews."
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L Ezergailis 1996b , pp. 4-7, 239-70.
* ^ Edelheit, History of the Holocaust. p. 163: "Aktion Jeckeln,
named after its commander, Hoeherer SS- und Polizeiführer Friedrich
Jeckeln. Undertaken in the
Riga ghetto, the Aktion took place between
November 30 and December 7, 1941. During the Aktion some 25,000 Jews
were transported to the Rumbula Forest and murdered."
* ^ A B Ezergailis 1996b , pp. 211–2.
Einsatzgruppen judgment, p. 418.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P
Riga trial verdict excerpts, as
reprinted in Fleming 1994 , pp. 78–9.
* ^ Ezergailis 1996b , p. 33n81.
* ^ Fleming 1994 , p. 88.
* ^ As Lohse appeared in 1941 in an announcement in Latvia
newspapers following the German occupation.
* ^ Stahlecker report, at 985: "
Special detachments reinforced by
selected units -- in
Lithuania partisan detachments, in
of the Latvian auxiliary police -- therefore performed extensive
executions both in the towns and in rural areas."
* ^ A serious and deadly (approximately 400 Jews murdered) riot in
Riga in early July 1941 was one exception.
* ^ A B Stahlecker, report, at 986: "In
Latvia as well the Jews
participated in acts of sabotage and arson after the invasion of the
German Armed Forces. In Duensburg so many fires were lighted by the
Jews that a large part of the town was lost. The electric power
station burnt down to a mere shell. The streets which were mainly
inhabited by Jews remained unscathed."
* ^ Friedländer, The Years of Extermination, at page 223, refers
to the Stahlecker report as evidence that Nazi efforts to induce local
pogroms were in general failures in the Baltic states.
* ^ Stahlecker report, at 984-85: "It proved much more difficult to
set in motion similar cleansing actions in Latvia. Essentially the
reason was that the whole of the national stratum of leaders had been
assassinated or destroyed by the Soviets, especially in Riga. It was
possible though through similar influences on the Latvian auxiliary to
set in motion a pogrom against Jews also in Riga. During this pogrom
all synagogues were destroyed and about 400 Jews were murdered. As the
Riga quieted down quickly, further pogroms were not
convenient. So far as possible, both in Kowno and in
Riga evidence by
film and photo was established that the first spontaneous executions
of Jews and Communists were carried out by Lithuanians and Latvians.
* ^ A B C D E F G Winter, "Rumbula viewed from the
Riga Ghetto, at
* ^ Stahlecker report, at 987: "In this connection it may be
mentioned that some authorities at the Civil Administration offered
resistance, at times even a strong one, against the carrying out of
larger executions. This resistance was answered by calling attention
to the fact that it was a matter of carrying out basic orders."
* ^ Reitlinger, Alibi. p. 186n1.
* ^ A B C Browning, Matthäus. Origins of the
Final Solution , pp.
* ^ The reply, coming from Brätigam, of Rosenburg's bureau on
December 18, 1941, after the murders, was essentially that Lohse
should follow instructions from the SS : "Clarification of the Jewish
question has most likely been achieved by now through verbal
discussions. Economic considerations should fundamentally remain
unconsidered in the settlement of the problem. Moreover, it is
requested, that questions arising be settled directly with the Senior
SS and Police Leaders.
* ^ Stahlecker report, at 987: "In
Riga the so-called "Moskau
suburb" was designated as a Ghetto. This is the worst dwelling
district of Riga, already now mostly inhabited by Jews. The transfer
of the Jews into the Ghetto-district proved rather difficult because
the Latvians dwelling in that district had to be evacuated and
residential space in
Riga is very crowded, 24,000 of the 28,000 Jews
Riga have been transferred into the
Ghetto so far. In
creating the Ghetto, the Security Police restricted themselves to mere
policing duties, while the establishment and administration of the
Ghetto as well as the regulation of the food supply for the inmates of
Ghetto were left to Civil Administration; the Labor Offices were
left in charge of Jewish labor."
* ^ Fleming 1994 , plate 3.
* ^ Fleming 1994 , pp. 99–100: "There can be no doubt that the
Higher SS and Police Leader
Higher SS and Police Leader
Friedrich Jeckeln received the KVK First
Class with swords in recognition of his faithful performance: his
organization of the mass shootings in Riga, 'on orders from the
highest level' (auf höchsten Befehl).
* ^ Friedländer, The Years of Extermination, at page 267: "The
mass slaughters of October and November 1941 were intended to make
space for the new arrivals from the Reich."
* ^ Friedländer, The Years of Extermination, at page 267
* ^ Ezergailis 1996b , p. 241: "On November 12, Jeckeln received
his order from Himmler to kill the Jews of the
Riga ghetto." Other
sources give the date of Himmler's order as November 10 or November
11. Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution, at 75
* ^ A B Fleming 1994 , pp. 75–7.
* ^ A B Eksteins, Walking Since Daybreak, page 150
* ^ A B C D E F Ezergailis 1996b , pp. 241–2.
* ^ A B Jeckeln interrogation excerpts, reprinted in Fleming 1994 ,
* ^ A B Klee and others, eds., The Good Old Days. pp. 76-86.
* ^ A B Ezergailis 1996b , pp. 240–1.
* ^ Rubenstein and Roth describe Jeckeln's system (p. 179): "In the
western Ukraine, SS General
Friedrich Jeckeln notices that the
haphazard arrangement of the corpses meant an inefficient use of
burial space. More graves would have to be dug than absolutely
necessary. Jeckeln solved the problem. He told a colleague at one of
the Ukrainian killing sites, 'Today we'll stack them like sardines.'
Jeckeln called his solution Sardinenpackung (sardine packing). When
this method was employed, the victims climbed into the grave and lay
down on the bottom. Cross fire from above dispatched them. Then
another batch of victims was ordered into the grave, positioning
themselves on top of the corpses in a head-to-foot configuration. They
too were murdered by cross-fire from above. The procedure continued
until the grave was full."
* ^ The Tribunal's judgment states (p. 444): "In some instances, the
slain persons did not fall into the graves, and the executioners were
then compelled to exert themselves to complete the job of interment. A
method, however, was found to avoid this additional exertion by simply
having the victims enter the ditch or grave while still alive. An SS
eyewitness explained this procedure.
'The people were executed by a shot in the neck. The corpses were
buried in a large tank ditch. The candidates for execution were
already standing or kneeling in the ditch. One group had scarcely been
shot before the next came and laid themselves on the corpses there.'"
* ^ A B According to the judgment of the Tribunal in the
Einsatzgruppen case (p. 448): "It was stated in the early part of this
opinion that women and children were to be executed with the men so
that Jews, gypsies, and so-called asocials would be exterminated for
all time. In this respect, the
Einsatzgruppen leaders encountered a
difficulty they had not anticipated. Many of the enlisted men were
husbands and fathers, and they winced as they pulled their triggers on
these helpless creatures who reminded them of their own wives and
offspring at home. In this emotional disturbance they often aimed
badly and it was necessary for the Kommando leaders to go about with a
revolver or carbine, firing into the moaning and writhing forms." This
situation was reported to the RSHA in Berlin, and to relieve the
emotional sensitivity of the executioners, gas vans were sent as an
additional killing system. Angrick Gūtmanis, Armands; Vestermanis,
Marģers (2001). Latvia's Jewish Community: History, Tragedy, Revival.
Riga: Latvijas Vēsturnieku komisija (Commission of the Historians of
* ^ Friedländer, The Years of Extermination. p. 262: "A few months
later, on June 26, 1942, SS Obersturmführer Heinz Ballensiefen, head
of the Jewish section of Amt VII (research) in the RSHA, informed his
colleagues that in
Riga his men had secured (sichergestellt') about 45
boxes containing the archive and library of the Jewish historian
* ^ A B Kaufmann 2010 , p. 70.
* ^ A B Smith, Remembering. pp. 100, 114, 128, reporting statement
of Ruth Foster.
* ^ Reitlinger, Alibi. p. 282: "As early as October 1941 Jews had
been sent from
Berlin and other Reich cites to the already hopelessly
overcrowed Lodz ghetto. Before the end of the year deportations had
followed to ghettos in the Baltic states and White Russia."
* ^ A B C Smith, Remembering. p. 113, reporting statement of Ezra
Jurmann: "We arrived in the ghetto and were taken to a group of houses
which had obviously been left in a hurry: there was complete turmoil,
they were completely deserted and they had not been heated. In a
pantry there was a pot of potatoes frozen solid. ... Complete chaos.
Ominous. On the walls, a message said, 'Mama, farewell.'"
* ^ Ezergailis 1996b , pp. 254-6.
* ^ Breitman, Architect of Genocide. p. 220, discusses Himmler's
concerns about the effect on his men's morale of the mass killings of
German Jews at
Riga and elsewhere.
* ^ Friedländer, The Years of Extermination. pp. 362-3.
David Cesarani , Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (Vintage 2005).
* ^ Styopina, Anastasia, "
Latvia remembers Holocaust killings 60
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* ^ Bloxham,
Genocide on Trial. p. 198.
* ^ Ezergailis 1996b , pp. 16, 245-8.
* ^ Bloxham,
Genocide on Trial. pp. 197-9.
* ^ Kuenzle, Anton and Shimron, Gad, The Execution of the Hangman
of Riga: The Only Execution of a Nazi War Criminal by the Mossad,
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* ^ Edelheit, History of the Holocaust. p. 340: Jeckeln was " ...
responsible for the murder of Jews and
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* Anders, Edward, and Dubrovskis, Juris, "Who Died in the Holocaust?
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Riga: Exploitation and Annihilation, 1941-1944. Translation from
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* Bloxham, Donald,
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formation of Holocaust History and Memory, Oxford University Press,
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* Browning, Christopher (1999). Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German
Killers. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-77490-X .
* Browning, Christopher; Matthäus, Jürgen (2004). The Origins of
the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September
1939 – March 1942. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN
* Dribins, Leo, Gūtmanis, Armands, and Vestermanis, Marģers,
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Foreign Affairs, Republic of Latvia
* Edelheit, Abraham J. and Edelheit, Hershel, History of the
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* Eksteins, Modris, Walking Since Daybreak: A story of Eastern
Europe, World War II, and the Heart of our Century, Houghton Mifflin,
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* Ezergailis, Andrew (1996a). "Latvia". In Wyman, David S.;
Rosenzveig, Charles H. The World Reacts to the Holocaust. Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 354–88. ISBN 0-8018-4969-1 .
* Ezergailis, Andrew (1996b).
The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1944:
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Riga / Washington DC: Historical Institute of
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* Fleming, Gerald (1994). Hitler and the Final Solution. Berkeley :
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* Friedländer, Saul , The years of extermination : Nazi Germany and
the Jews, 1939-1945 , New York, NY 2007 ISBN 978-0-06-019043-9
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Riga Ghetto. Documentary
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* Klee, Ernst , Dressen, Willi, and Riess, Volker, eds., The Good
The Holocaust as seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders,
(English translation) MacMillan Free Press, NY 1991 ISBN 0-02-917425-2
The Holocaust in German-Occupied Latvia
* Michelson, Frida, I Survived Rumbuli, Holocaust Library, New York,
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* Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, Holocaust
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* Press, Bernard, The Murder of the Jews in Latvia, Northwestern
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* Reitlinger, Gerald , The SS—Alibi of a Nation, at 186, 282,
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* Roseman, Mark, The
Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution—A
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* Rubenstein, Richard L., and Roth, John K., Approaches to
Auschwitz, page 179, Louisville, Ky. : Westminster John Knox Press,
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* (in German) Scheffler, Wolfgang, "Zur Geschichte der Deportation
jüdischer Bürger nach
Riga 1941/1942", Volksbund Deutsche
Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. – 23.05.2000
* Schneider, Gertrude, Journey into terror: story of the Riga
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* Smith, Lyn, Remembering: Voices of the Holocaust, Carroll & Graf,
New York 2005 ISBN 0-7867-1640-1
* Winter, Alfred, "Rumbula Viewed From The
Riga Ghetto" from The
Riga and Continuance - A Survivor\'s Memoir 1998
WAR CRIMES TRIALS AND EVIDENCE
* Brätigam, Otto, Memorandum dated 18 Dec. 1941, "Jewish Question
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of the United States Chief of Counsel For Prosecution of Axis
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VII, pages 978-995, USGPO, Washington DC 1946 ("Red Series")
* Jeckeln, Friedrich , excerpts from minutes of interrogation, 14
December 1945 (Maj. Zwetajew, interrogator, Sgt. Suur, interpreter),
pages 8–13, from the Historical State Archives, as reprinted in
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the Jeckeln interrogation are also available online at the Nizkor
* Stahlecker, Franz W. , "Comprehensive Report of Einsatzgruppe A
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* "The International Military Tribunal for Germany". Yale Law School
/ Lillian Goldman Law Library / The Avalon Project.
* Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals
under Control Council Law No. 10, Nuernberg, October 1946 - April
1949, Volume IV, ("Green Series) (the "
Einsatzgruppen case") also
available at Mazel library (well indexed HTML version)
* Katz, Josef, One Who Came Back, University of Wisconsin Press,
(2nd Ed. 2006) ISBN 978-1-928755-07-4
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* Michelson, Max, City of Life, City of Death: Memories of Riga,
University Press of Colorado (2001) ISBN 978-0-87081-642-0
* Media related to
The Holocaust in
Latvia at Wikimedia Commons
The Holocaust in
Latvia and Latvia\'s Jews