Dundaga (Dondangen) | Kurzeme

Jānis Z., born in 1934, provided key information regarding pre-war Jewish life, the arrival of the Germans and occupation, the Popervāle camp, forced labor, and the displacement of Jews by trucks to a location near his home in the Kurbe Forest. ©Jordi La Gunta S., born in 1937: "In Dundaga, I remember that there was a camp with barracks everywhere. The Jews in this camp were forced to work. They had to dig trenches, for example."    ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum Mirdza S., born in 1936: "During the German occupation, Jews would come to my house to ask my mother for food. The Jews were kind and helpful people. My family wanted to help the Jews, but they couldn’t because of our neighbors, who could not be trusted." Frida P., born in 1935, explaining in detail how the Popervāle camp was organized. Her testimony provided a clear overview of the topography of the site at the time, including the location of the German barracks.    ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum Aina S., born in 1933: "One German was particularly aggressive. He yelled at the other German and Latvian guards, whom he considered too soft, but also at the Jews, whom he forbade from eating the apples from a nearby tree. "    ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In The old castle of Dundaga. During the occupation, from 1941 to 1945, it was the headquarters of the local SS.    ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum Plaque of the monument where the following words are inscribed in Latvian: "In memory of the 1,200 Latvian and European Jews exterminated in the death camps of Dundaga". ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum The site where more than 1,200 Jews were executed during the German occupation between 1941 and 1945. The majority of them came from forced labor camps in the Dundaga region. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews around Dundaga

1 Sitio(s) de ejecución

Tipo de lugar antes:
Farm
Memoriales:
Yes
Período de ocupación:
1941 - 1945
Número de víctimas:
1,200

Entrevista del testigo

Jānis Z., born in 1934: “The Jews were taken from the Popervāle camp to build a railroad line and an airfield. On the orders of the Germans, they had to destroy my grandfather's house because it was in the area and its materials could be reused at another construction site. Later, some of the Jews were transferred from Popervāle to the Kurbes forest 10 km (6 miles) away. There, they were housed in green tents. The Germans, on the other hand, were housed in the wooden barracks in Popervāle. I remember seeing trucks coming from Popervāle towards this forest for about a week. Depending on the officer present, the Jews could get out of the trucks and ask for food in the nearby houses. On very rare occasions some even came to my house. The Jews were dressed in civilian clothes, but wore a star. They were not killed in the camp, but were taken somewhere near Dundaga and shot. I did not see any Jews again for the rest of the war.“ (Witness n°95LV, interviewed in Lube, on September 10, 2021)

Nota histórica

Dundaga is a small town located 122 km (76 miles) northwest of Riga, in the Kurzeme region of Latvia. Before the war, there were 20 Jewish residents in Dundaga, making up 4% of the total population. In the summer of 1941, under the terms of the German-Soviet Pact, the USSR took possession of the Baltic States and the Red Army entered Dundaga.

Holocausto por balas en cifras

On June 22, 1941, the German armies and their allies began their invasion of the USSR, marking the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. By the end of June, Dundaga was occupied. As soon as the occupation began, the German authorities created a local auxiliary militia composed of Latvians. In early July, one of its members shot a Jew in the town. Then, on July 19, 1941, the German authorities ordered the arrest of all Jews in the Ventspils district, of which Dundaga was a part. All of the local Jews, about 20 people, were subsequently deported to Ventspils, located 50 km (31 miles) to the west. There, they were shot along with other local Jews in the forest on the outskirts of the town. At the beginning of September 1941, the Dundaga region became part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland, an administrative entity of the Reich that included the territories of the Baltic States and part of Belarus. The former castle of Dundaga served as the headquarters of the SS stationed there. In March 1943, the Germans built the Kaiserwald concentration camp near Riga. In early summer 1943, the large ghettos in Riga, Daugavpils and Liepaja were liquidated. The remaining Jews were sent to the Kaiserwald camp as well as to other secondary camps scattered around the region. Five forced labor camps were subsequently established near Dundaga, including Dondangen I, Dondangen II, and Popervāle. In 1944, more than 6,000 Jews and about 1,000 POWs were confined there, under the guard of several SS units. One of the camps, Popervāle, was divided into two. On one side, the men had to work on maintaining the infrastructure and building barracks. In particular, they were involved in the construction of a railroad track to Mazirbe, 19 km (12 miles) north of Dundaga. On the other, women had to cut wood and work the land. Men and women also worked on draining the marshes. This work was to allow for the establishment of German colonies. The Jewish prisoners all had to wear a distinctive yellow sign and lived in tents made of poor quality materials. The living conditions in these camps were terrible and several dozen prisoners died every day. Some of those who worked on the railroad were victims of summary executions near the Čiekuri farm, located 5 km (3 miles) north of Dundaga. Some of the bodies were buried there, while others were thrown into the sea near Mazirbe. In all, more than 1,200 Jews died in the five camps in the Dundaga area. The region was liberated in May 1945, when Nazi Germany surrendered.

Pueblos cercanos

  • Ventspils
  • Ģibzde
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