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Daugavpils (Dvinsk in Russian, Dunaburg in German) is the administrative center of the Latvian province of Latgalia, and is located 100 miles Southeast of Riga. Before World War I, it was in Vitebsk Gubernia of Russian Empire.
Jews began to arrive in Latgalia in the early 17th century after severe pogroms in Poland from 1605 to 1639 and in the Ukraine and Belorussia from 1648 to 1653. Latgalia came under Russian control after the First Partition of Poland in 1772. At the time, 5,000 Jews lived there, but by 1784, the number had been reduced to 3,700.
The traditional Yiddish Jewish community, along with the rest of Latgalia, was very poor, owing to its location in the interior of Latvia, on the Russian border. This situation changed, when the Sankt Petersburg - Warsaw railroad was built at the end of the 19th century. The number of Jews in Daugavpils rapidly grew to 55,686 persons in the year 1913 (49.3% of town population).
During World War I, many Jews were exiled to the Russian interior, and others fled the country.
In independent Latvia, between 1920-1940, Jews were less than five percent of the total population, but Jewish capitalists and entrepreneurs played a significant role in the renewal and development of Latvia's national economy. Latvian-Jewish financiers, manufacturers, and traders invested capital in the establishment of new manufacturing companies and in the modernization of the existing plants, particularly in the timber industry, rubber, textiles, paper, leather, tobacco, matches, flour, and yeast, and in the import of crude oil and coal. Jews also had a significant impact on the development of Latvia's credit system. In 1935, Jews comprised 10.2% of the people employed in credit institutions and 15.4% of those employed in insurance companies. According to the noteworthy Latvian economist A. Ceihners, in 1933 20.2% of Latvia's industrial enterprises, 28.5% of all shops, and 48.6% of 1st- and 2nd-class trade facilities belonged to Jews. In 1935, Jews held 36% of the share capital of joint-stock companies, and the proportion of Jewish public taxpayers (with an income of more than 2000 lats per year) was: 32.2% in industry, 47.9% in trade, and 22.5% in housing management.
In the All Latvia census of 1935, Daugavpils had 11,106 Jews (25% of the population).
When the Nazis entered Daugavpils on June 28, 1941, they found a group of 240 Latvians — former police, army officers, and members of the ATZSARGI organization (Organization for Self Defense) ready to collaborate. The Latvians were prepared to do the Germans' "dirty work" in return for immediate and future reward. Roberts Bluzmanis became a chief of the Latvian auxiliary police in Nazi-occupied Daugavpils. The Nazi propaganda brainwashed thousands of Latvians, added fuel to the hatred already present in the Latvian society, and gave them a way to justify their actions. Hunting, beating, and terrorizing the Jews became facts of daily life. Over 1,000 Jewish men perished within first week of German occupation. Latvians eagerly participated in barbaric executions hoping to gain the new invaders' favor.
At the end of July 1941, the Daugavpils Ghetto was set up in the Latvian Army barracks in Griva Fortress; all Jews in the city were required to move there. Jews from other towns and villages of Latgale and refugees from Lithuania were also brought there. Thousands of tortured, exhausted victims were brought to the overcrowded ghetto, where they were crammed together, condemned to hunger, cold and disease, where basic accommodations were generally lacking and sanitary conditions were dismal. In this enclosed and tightly guarded place during that period 23,048 Jews lived, according to the local newspaper "Dvinski Vestnik." Zaube, the German commandant of the Daugavpils Ghetto, stood out for his extreme cruelty. He practiced the killing of offenders, especially those who had brought in food, at the inner square of the ghetto in front of all inmates - to frighten and to humiliate them. It was in Daugavpils that the liquidation of ghetto inmates started. All killing operations of the Jews were under cover, to hide their destiny from them until the last moment so as to win their cooperation, assure quiet marching to the required place, and prevent running off or hiding.
July 29, 1941 - Since the Ghetto was overcrowded, the Germans proposed that all people over 60 years old would be separated and transferred to the nearby Sanatorium in Mežciems. Over one thousand left the Daugavpils Ghetto and were killed next day.
August 2, 1941 - The Ghetto was still overcrowded and the Germans decided that Jews from other towns and villages would be set up in another ghetto. Only Jews from Daugavpils and Griva and Lithuanian refugees would remain in the Ghetto. A few thousand left Daugavpils ghetto and were killed in Mežciems forest.
August 17-18, 1941 - Big selection days. The Germans said that a large number of healthy people were needed for sugar-beet harvesting in the Krustpils region and promised increased food rations for them. All ghetto inhabitants were gathered for selection and arranged in two groups; the right column for healthy people and the left column for the old, children, and ill, and owners of "worker's certificates" who remained in the Ghetto. The people in the left column had a feeling of doom when the healthy people column marched out of the Ghetto. In that way once again the Germans succeeded in covering their intentions and brought the remaining Jews to a place to be killed without resistance.
From Jaeger's Report: Dunaburg - during the period July 13, 1941 through August 21, 1941, 9,012 Jewish men, women, and children were shot.
November 8-10, 1941 - The next big action in the Daugavpils Ghetto took place when 11,034 people were killed in the Mežciems forest. All local Latvian auxiliary police sources were involved in this mass killing, and even the Arajs commando came in blue municipal buses from Riga to help to quickly handle the killing.
December 5, 1941 - The Daugavpils Ghetto had 962 inhabitants, according to a document signed by Zaube, commandant of the Ghetto.
May 1, 1942 - The day of the final liquidation of the Ghetto. According to June 1942 Food Card distribution, there remained 487 Jews (245 men, 242 women, 22 children) in Daugavpils. That means that in the May 1 action about 500 Jews was killed. After the Ghetto liquidation, all remaining Jews were concentrated in a few working factories, the largest of which was "Unit 322" in the Daugavpils fortress.
October 1943 - All Daugavpils Jews were transferred to Kaiserwald Concentration Camp near Riga.
According to the List of Jewish survivors in Dvinsk registered with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow on 05-Feb-1945, only 39 Jewish survivors lived in Daugavpils immediately after the war. A few hundred later returned from Russia, where they stayed during the War period and also a few survivors returned from German camps.
The last page of the Ghetto List from December 5, 1941 may be viewed here.
This database includes 962 records for residents of Daugavpils Ghetto on December 5, 1941. The fields of the database are as follows:
The original source for this information is a census document in the Latvian State Archives Riga - LVVA, f. 6962, apr.21, lieta 26, lp 17.
Special thanks to Josef Rochko from Daugavpils, who obtained and donated a copy of this document.
Jacob Gorfinkel, a JewishGen volunteer, compiled the list.
In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible. Special thanks to Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy. Particular thanks to the Research Division headed by Joyce Field and to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.
This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database and the JewishGen Latvia Database.
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Last Update: 21 Sep 2007 by MFK