Historical and Educational projects

Žanis Lipke Memorial

The Lipke Memorial Museum is probably the best-hidden museum in Riga. Concealed at the end of a blind alley branching off from a backyard, the museum’s secrecy serves a symbolic purpose, for it marks a place where people hid others, and were hidden themselves.

It was here that Žanis Lipke, a dock worker in Riga, set up a shelter for Jews saved from the ghetto. An underground bunker was dugout under a woodshed in his backyard, its exit concealed by a kennel. Throughout World War II, eight to twelve people stayed permanently in this 3x3 metre pit, often for very long periods of time. German law enforcers never found the shelter, and neither Lipke nor the others involved in the rescue were ever caught.

The Lipke Memorial now stands in the place of Lipke’s backyard. The ascetic wooden building is reminiscent of an upturned, beached boat — similar to a ferry that has completed its mission of passage. Or Noah's ark, which descended back to land after the flood with its lucky survivors on board. Alongside it stands a black shed - a tarred, wind-skewed structure made of whittled planks - characteristic of the Kipsala district when it was populated by fishermen.

Projects supported by Uniting History Foundation

  • In 2020 museum historians conducted in-depth research into cases involving the rescue of Jews in Liepaja and its surroundings during the years of Nazi occupation. Specialists of the museum, in cooperation with historian Marger Vestermanis, have compiled information on cases of successful and unsuccessful rescues of Jews. The results of their research will be presented at the Zanis Lipke 120th Anniversary Conference in autumn 2020.
  • "Underground Riga" is an urban topography project which marks the rescue of the Jews during WWII in Riga and its surroundings through memorial signs and a digital map. The inspiration for the design of the memorial sign is the woodshed in the backyard of Zanis Lipke's Kipsala home, under which persecuted Jews were hidden.
  • A memorial candle-lighting to commemorate the Holocaust victims murdered at Rumbula is organised annually by the Freedom Monument in Riga.

Other Historical & Educational Projects