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The history of Latvia's Jews

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Latvia's Jews, dates back to the first a community established in Piltene in 1571. Over the years, the Jewsh population helped Latvia's development until the Northern War of 1700–1721, which killed a large part of Latvia's population.

An influx of Prussian Jews rebuilt the Jewish enclaves, and became a leading player in in the economic life of Latvia. They continued this good work under the Russians in the Governorate of The Russian Governorate of Livonia.

Under the 1st independent Latvia republic the Jewish community flourished. Jews were allowed to form political parties and participated as members of parliament. Jewish parents had the legal right to send their children to schools using Hebrew as well as Latvian as the official language. This was part of a significant network of minority schools that also catered for Germans, Swedes, Poles and Russians.

During World War 2, the Riga Ghetto was forcibly created out of a small area of Maskavas Forštate, neighborhood of Riga, Latvia, by the occupieing Nazis. Most of Latvia's Jews (roughly 24,000) were murdered on November 30 and December 8, 1941 in the infomouse Rumbula massacre imd Rumbula forest near Riga, at the hands of both the German Einsatzgruppen troops and some local corlaborators.

The Nazi Holocaust, which involved Latvia's The Arajs Kommando, killed about 90% of Latvia's Jewish population and only 5% of the surviving population of the country was Jewish after annexation to the USSR in 1944, as the Jews constituted 12% of the people who were exile, killed or sent to Gulags during the Stalin years.

Today's community is largely the decedents of the survivors of the Holocaust and Jews who temporally fled to the USSR to escape the Nazi invasion and later returned, and who moved in to Latvia from other parts Soviet Union after travel restrictions were eased under Kruschove. The Latvian Jews are still small number but remained active.


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