Great Choral Synagogue Memorial - Atlas Obscura

Great Choral Synagogue Memorial

A monument to the grand synagogue that stood in this space before Nazis burned it down. 


The Great Choral Synagogue, in Riga was a monumental structure. Its construction was completed in 1871, and it was considered one of the most beautiful synagogues in the city. It was sadly burned down on July 4, 1941, just three days after the Nazi occupation of Latvia began.

Following the invasion of Latvia, the Nazi forces began a program of repression and mass murder of the Latvian Jews.  The Jews of Latvia were separated from the rest of the Latvian population, they were forced out of their homes and imprisoned in ghettos in the city. Within several months of the Nazi occupation of the country, the Jewish population had been entirely exterminated in most Latvian towns. Between 1941 and 1945, around 70,000 Latvian Jews and around 20,000 Jews who had been deported into Latvia from various other countries across Europe were killed.

On July 4, local police under the command of Viktors Arajs burned the synagogue on the orders of the invading Nazis. The furnishings of the building were doused with fuel and then set on fire, while the Jewish population were locked inside to prevent them from escaping the burning building. Other synagogues across the city were also burned down, leading to the deaths of over 400 Jews.

In 1988, the Jewish community sited a memorial sign at the location of the Great Choral Synagogue. In 1993, a memorial was created on the excavated remains of the old synagogue  Symbolic walls were created where the original walls had once stood, these were then inlaid with fragments of the original building set in them. These fragments from the original building were discovered during the excavation.

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October 18, 2023

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