"TheCelotajs" –
 

Latvia Jewish Holocaust

 

 

Liepaja Škede Dunes –

Site of the 1941 Mass Murders and its Memorials 
Libiešu iela 37/53 off Viestura iela – Lat N56.60096, Lon: E021.02039
 
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. 
 
 
 
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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.
 
Other known sites of 1941 Latvian Jewish Mass Executions by Nazi SD Troops: 

Bikernieku Forest "Site of the Jewish Mass Killings" 35,000” from mid July 1941 to the Fall of 1944

Rumbula Forest "Site of the Jewish Mass Killings" “25,000” on 30 November and 8 December of 1941
 
Liepaja Škede Dunes Site of the 1941 Mass Murder Graves and Trench Lines
 
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Revised: 23 May 2012 – 12:40:47