Pāvilosta (Paulshafen) | Kurzeme

/ Former Jewish house in Pāvilosta. Before the war, about 20 local Jewish families lived in this type of residence.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Location of the former synagogue of Pāvilosta. A house stands at the location today.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Former distillery in Pāvilosta. From the summer of 1941, local Jews were subjected to forced labor there imposed by the German authorities.  Today, the building is abandoned.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Malvine S., born in 1929 : "My mother sometimes worked as a servant for Jewish families. In Pāvilosta, there were Roma and Jews."  ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Imants S., born in 1929: "I remember that the Jews were forced to work at the local brewery, wear yellow stars, and walk in the middle of the street."    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum Haralds and his wife Rita L., born in 1931 and 1932, provided key information to the Yahad team about pre-war Jewish life, the location of the shooting and the guards who carried out the task.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum The execution site where German security forces and their Latvian auxiliaries shot about 80 Jews from Pāvilosta, Jūrkalne and Saka on December 4, 1941. The pit is located in the Grīņu dabas nature reserve, located 6 km (4 miles) southeast of Pāvilosta.   The monument dedicated to the Jewish victims executed by the Germans and their allies in the forest. It is located just in front of the pit.    ©Eva Saukane/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews of Pāvilosta, Saka and Jūrkalne in Pāvilosta

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Clearing in the woods
Period of occupation:
1941 - 1945
Number of victims:
Circa 80

Witness interview

Malvine S., born in 1929: “I remember that I was in school when the Jews were rounded up at the market square. Then they were taken to the site of the shooting, somewhere near Saka. I knew one of the victims, it was Dr. L***. After the shooting, the next day, my mother went to the area where it happened. She told my father that she saw the ground moving and a hand sticking out of the mass grave where the victims were buried.” (Witness n°53LV, interviewed in Pāvilosta, on October 4, 2019)

German archives

"In the winter of 1941 - 1942, when I arrived in Paulshafen to lead the B-Stelle, there were still many Jews. In my department there were also three Jewish women working. I know that all the Jews were deported one day in the summer of 1942. I had just left the town and didn’t see it, but I heard about it. I can’t say what happened to the Jews. I guess they were shot. Their houses were open and no one lived there anymore." [Interrogation of Walter S**, B162-2626: RG-14.101M.0343.00000540; Bl. 1335]

Historical note

Pāvilosta is a town located 177 km (110 miles) west of Riga, in the Kurzeme region of Latvia. Before the war, the town was mostly inhabited by Latvians and a Jewish minority of about 20 families. Most of the Jews worked in the trade business. They had about 7 stores on Vilnu Street and a small synagogue. Relations between the Jews and the Latvians were quite good and all the children went to the same school. In Pāvilosta, there were also sometimes Roma passing through. In June 1940, according to the terms of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact, Latvia was invaded by the Red Army and then annexed to the USSR. Many important local figures were deported by the Soviet authorities.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On June 22, 1941, the German armies and their allies began the invasion of the USSR. On June 27, Pāvilosta was occupied. As soon as the occupation began, the Jews were subjected to a number of restrictions. They were all arrested and gathered in a single building. The German authorities closed their stores, forced them to wear the yellow star and forbade them to use the sidewalks. In addition, they were forced to work in the local liquor brewery. On the evening of December 3, 1941, the Jews of the town and the surrounding villages of Jūrkalne and Saka were rounded up at the market square. About 80 Jews were subsequently taken to a barn on the outskirts of the town to spend the night. The next morning they were taken to the Grīņu dabas forest reserve located 6 km (4 miles) southeast of Pāvilosta. They were then all executed by a German SD unit from Liepāja assisted by Latvian militiamen from Pāvilosta. The town was liberated by the Red Army in May 1945.

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