"TheCelotajs" –
 

Latvia Jewish Holocaust

 

 

Liepaja Škede Dunes –
Site of the 1941 Mass Murder Graves and Trench Lines 
Lat: N56.60018, Lon: E021.02070
Libiešu iela 37/53 off Viestura iela,
Liepaja, Latvia
 
                
 
Authors Note:
 
Before we explore the area of the trench lines where these mass graves are located, I want to remind everyone that it has been 71 years since these mass murders took place and during this length of time the elements and the environmental changes to the dunes that have taken place since the mass murders took place, how the dunes looked then and how it looks today is very different. With the many years of Baltic Sea storms and high winds and every changing movement of the dunes sand, the outline of the mass graves are hard to define as to their exact locations are. If it had not been for a GPR “Ground Penetrating Radar” Satellite Map made by Prof. Valdis Seglin's' and Drs. A. Kukela and G. Sic'ovs from Latvia University at the request of Edward Anders and Vladimir Ban, of the Jews in Liepaja Latvia project, the exact location and outline of the mass graves would never be known of found. Thank you gentlemen for you hard work and dedication to this project.
 
May these grave locations
never be lost nor forgotten again. 
 
 
Starting at the south end of the woods and the tree line between the Baltic Sea coast line “dunes” and the Russian Monument and working our way north through the woods to the open area north of the woods we will try and give one a general idea and the area where the mass graves and their trench lines lay. Here again, since there are no markers showing the exact locations of these mass graves are, all one can show are the rough locations. As we move north through the woods and the open dunes area, we will pan the area where the GPR Satellite Map shows where these mass grave trench lines are. 
 
History of the 1941 Mass Murders 
 
Click on Picture above to View Album 
 
Škede dunes, is the largest of the mass murder sites located in Liepaja during the first year of the Nazi Army occupation of Liepaja, these mass murders which took place during 1941–1942. Located along the path leading to the Jewish Memorial and the entrance to the Škede dunes, we will see a memorial to the 3000 non Jews of the 7500 that were murdered in the dunes. Located in the grassy area is the Jewish Memorial dedicated to the Liepaja Jews that were murdered in the Škede dunes and there is also the Soviet Unions Memorial to those murdered along the dunes location. 
 
The murders in the dunes at Škede on the Baltic shore, some fifteen kilometers north of the city and about a kilometer from the road towards the sea, began as early as July 1941. Some 200 Jews were murdered there. During a three-day massacre on 15-17 December 1941, German and Latvian units killed 2,749 Jews, more than half of Liepaja’s Jewish population. Preparations for the operation began some days before. On 13 December 1941, Liepaja Police Chief Obersturmbannfuehrer Fritz Diedrich placed an announcement in the Latvian newspaper Kurzemes Vards stating that Jews were forbidden to leave their living quarters on Monday, 15 December and Tuesday, 16 December 1941. 
 
On the night of 13 December 1941, Latvian police forces began to arrest Liepaja’s Jews not yet concentrated in the ghetto. The victims were brought to the Women’s Prison, where Jews of all ages were crammed into the courtyard. The Jews were ordered to stand with their faces towards the wall, and warned not to move or look around for relatives or at the watchmen. Some were transported to Škede on the evening of the following day and crowded into a barn “a wooden structure, described also as a garage”. 
 
In the early morning of 15 December 1941, a column of victims was driven from Liepaja by Latvian policemen, under the supervision of the German SD, to the same barn in Škede where Jews from the prison had been taken. They were taken in groups of twenty to a site forty to fifty meters to a deep ditch dug in the dunes nearby, parallel to the shore. The ditch was about three meters wide and 100 meters long. There they were forced to lie face down on the ground. Groups of ten were then ordered to stand up and, apart from the children, to undress, at first to their underwear and then, when taken near the ditch, undress completely. They were shot by a German unit, the Latvian SD Platoon headed by Lt. Peteris Galins, and a Latvian 
Schutzmannschaften team. 
 
During the murder operation, the Jews were placed along the side of the ditch nearest the sea, facing the water. The killing squad was positioned across the ditch, with two marksmen shooting at the same victim. Children who could walk were treated as adults, but babies were held by their mothers and killed with them. A “kicker” rolled in those corpses that did not fall directly into the ditch. After each volley, a German SD man stepped into the ditch to inspect the bodies and if any signs of life were found, they delivered “insurance” shots. 
 
Their clothes were piled in piles after being forced to undress completely nude and then taken away by German military trucks. During the murder operation, Strott and another officer, Erich Handke, took pictures with a Minox, and senior Wehrmacht and navy officers visited the site. 
 
The murder operations in Škede continued until December 1942. On 15 February 1942, the Germans planned to murder 500 Jews in Škede. However, on the way to the murder site a group of 22 Jews pounced on the drunken Latvian guards and managed to escape. 
 
In order to try to hide these mass murders in 1943 the German SD poured chlorine over the corpse’s buried in the mass graves. 
 
 
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Revised: 12/06/2012 11:38:50