Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of the Jewish People during World War II (04/07)

July 4 — a mournful and memorable day in the history of the Jewish people — Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of the Jewish People during the Second World War.

On this day, in 1941, a few days after the entry of German troops into Riga, eight synagogues were burned in the Latvian capital along with thousands of Jews. This day went down in history as « crystal night ».

For the first time, « Crystal Night » — the night of broken windows — was organized by fascists in Germany on November 9, 1938. In the wave of Jewish pogroms swept across the country, hundreds of Jews were killed, all synagogues in Germany were destroyed, more than seven thousand Jewish stores were looted. After that, more than thirty thousand Jews were thrown into concentration camps.

In Riga on this day, the « security team », dousing the pre-prepared pitch and the walls of the synagogue with gasoline, calmly set fire to the building. The main synagogue of Latvia — The Great Choral Synagogue — was destroyed along with the believers who were there. There were five hundred believers...

The action was carried out by a team led by Victor Arais. The so-called « security team » was organized with the advent of the Nazis in Riga on July 1, 1941. Volunteers — mainly high school students and students of the University of Latvia were enrolled in it. One of these — Victor Arayce — is a 31-year-old young and beautiful intellectual who received a Soviet law degree a year before. But nothing goes unpunished. On July 10, 1975, 34 years after the commission of the crimes, the German authorities spotted Victor Arayce, who at that time worked as a typesetter in a printing house in Frankfurt.

The number of those killed by this « paharem » ( the surname Aryas from the Latvian language translates as « pahar » ) and its henchmen were hundreds of thousands, but in court he only regretted, that it was not possible to shoot everyone that there were living witnesses. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. In January 1988, at the age of 78, former executioner Viktor Arays died in Kassau Prison.

Today's memory is an occasion to recall the victims of that time who have been subjected to violence and racial discrimination. So that the tragedy does not happen again...