Righteous Among the Nations
11 January, 2022

Righteous Among the Nations

A square near the memorial on the place of the destroyed Great Choral Synagogue in Riga. Silence reigns at the monument to Žanis Lipke and other Latvian saviors opened in 2007. Seven vertical columns keep the huge slab from falling. The names of those who, despite their safety and the safety of their loved ones, saved strangers doomed to death are engraved on the columns.

271 names ... ordinary Latvians, 138 of them were awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations. But how long will it take to find out the names of all those who saved and were saved? And is it possible? The threads connecting us to the past are getting thinner. Those carrying the memories of the war disappear.

It is impossible to let memory dissolve in deafening silence. The past must be remembered, if only because there is no future without it. And any generation needs to find its way to this past, to the tragedies that influenced the lives and destinies of their ancestors.

The Uniting History  Foundation is engaged in the study of the history of the rescue of Jews during the German occupation in Latvia. What was the fate of these movers, drivers, janitors, peasants, pastors, who consciously took mortal risks, showing compassion and willingness to help? Did they have families? Were they able to find the strength to tell the next generations the truth about that time? And where are their children and grandchildren now, who keep the history of the "family album"?

By carefully collecting and processing information shared by Jewish communities from different cities of Latvia, regional museums and archives of local history, churches, and parishes, historians, partners from Israel, the Uniting History Foundation restores contacts between the descendants of those who saved and those who were saved. This task is not an easy one, because the saviors themselves did not think of heroism in their actions, but rather considered it to be the norm. They were driven by humanity; they could not do differently. “I didn’t count ... I saved whoever I could, but I didn’t count”, Žanis Lipke said later.

One of the important areas of work of the Uniting History Foundation is the program of material assistance to the descendants of the Righteous who live in Latvia and are left without a family in old age.

Since the very beginning, the Foundation has been organizing events related to the perpetuation of the memory of the Holocaust in Latvia. One of the main events of 2022 is the addition of names at the Ž. Lipke Memorial. The Foundation plans to hold it in the presence of the descendants of the saviors and the rescued, living both in our country and abroad.

If you have any information about the Righteous, saved Jews or their descendants, please contact us at: therighteous@unitinghistory.com.

In the photo: Elza Perkone and her rescued Mika and Leo Zeligmani.