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Latvia observing Holocaust Memorial Day

July 04, 2013, 16:07 UTC+3

Latvian officials took part in a ceremony of laying flowers by the walls of the Grand Choral Synagogue

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RIGA, July 4 (Itar-Tass) - Latvia is observing the Holocaust Memorial Day.

The country’s President, Andris Berzins, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks, Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs, other high-rank Latvian officials, and the visiting envoy of the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe /OSCE/, rabbi Andre Bakers who supervises the struggle with anti-Semitism, took part in a ceremony of laying flowers by the walls of the Grand Choral Synagogue, in the course of which they paid tribute to the victims of Holocaust.

It was near the Grand Choral Synagogue that the Nazis burned down to death from several hundred to 2,000 Jewish people July 4, 1941.

Prisoners of a local ghetto are remembered today in the country’s second largest city, Daugavpils where a solemn public function will be held at the memorial to the victims of Nazism in memory of the 1,500 Jews executed by shooting.

In contrast to the state officials, members of the nationalistic movement Tevzemei un Brivibai/LNNK /For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK/ and the associate political groupings - the organization of veterans of the Waffen SS Latvian legion, the Daugava Hawks of Latvia organization, and the National Warriors Association - are marking the day of liberation of the town of Limbazi from Soviet occupation.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has condemned the event, saying that the ‘liberation’ of Limbazi from the Soviet Army units paved the way to further crimes committed by the Nazi forces and their Latvian accomplices.

The Nazi occupation of Latvia brought about an extermination of 95% of the Jews who lived in that country before the start of hostilities /on the Eastern Front of World War II in June 1941 - Itar-Tass/, the Wiesenthal Center director Ephraim Zuroff said in a statement. He went on saying that if the Tevzemei un Brivibai/LNNK movement finds it possible to organize celebrations over this particular fact, then it will scarcely get any seats on a coalition of an EU country.

One more commemorative event - the Steps of the Living march -- was organized June 30 by the Shamir community and the Museum of the Riga Ghetto and the Holocaust in Latvia. The participants traversed a route from the old Jewish cemetery through the territory of the former ghetto to the Grand Choral Synagogue.

It was attended by Latvia’s top government officials and foreign diplomats.

During the years of Nazi occupation of the Latvian territory, more than 100,000 Jewish residents of the republic were killed here. About 73,000 of them were residents of the country before the start of Hitler’s aggression against the USSR and another 20,000 to 30,000 Jews were brought here from other European countries.

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