European best destinations 2024 - Riga

Biķernieki Forest is a graveyard for thousands of Jews slaughtered there during World War II. The memorial ensemble's center is a black granite cube, a symbolic altar, with an inscription from the Book of Job: "Earth, do not shield my blood or hide my cry!" The surrounding thousands of stones remind one of traditional Jewish burial grounds.

From 1941 to 1944 around 35 thousand people were slaughtered here, among them Latvian and Western European Jews, Soviet prisoners and political opponents of Nazis. 20 thousand Jews are buried here. The first victims were a few thousand men arrested in the first weeks of July in 1941, held in Central Prison, then transported to Biķernieki Forest and killed there.

In 1942 around 12 thousand Jews from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia were shot dead here. There are 55 mass graves marked in the forest. According to a project by architect Sergey Rižs the memorial complex was opened in 2001 with the support of the German Public Association for War Burial Ground Maintenance, the National Fund of the Republic of Austria, the German government and several German municipalities.

Some stones have the names of the victims' native cities on them. Concrete posts bear special symbols - a Star of David, a crown of thorns and a cross.

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