Austrian and Latvian historians and researchers worked together for some years researching the fate of Austrian Jews who fled the territory of Nazi-occupied Austria between 1938 and 1940 and went to Latvia in search for a safe haven. The Austrian Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the Research of the consequences of the wars and the Occupation Museum in Riga, Latvia, continued their ongoing cooperation in publishing a collection of research results connected to this subject.
After the "Anschluss" of Austria to Nazi Germany in March 1938 at least 365 Jews from Austria were able to flee to Latvia. Some of them managed to move from Latvia to safer places. Some of them were murdered by German troops. However, after the Soviet Union had occupied Latvia in summer 1940, the majority of the surviving refugees were brought to detention camps. Most of them later had been deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan where they were kept in labor camps. Only in 1947 they had been released and were able to return to Austria or move to other countries.
The director of the Occupation Museum in Riga, Mrs. Gundega Michel, in her introductory speech highlighted the importance of the finding, that Latvia as a small country was one of the few countries who after 1938 still actively welcomed Jewish refugees from Germany and the area of former Austria. In her remarks the Austrian Ambassador to Latvia, Ms. Hermine Poppeller, underlined the necessity and importance of continued research of these dark times of Europe. She described it as a duty towards the young generation and a contribution towards a more unified Europe. The editors of the book, Prof. Stefan Karner, Philipp Lesiak and Prof. Heinrich Strods gave a short insight into their research work and the findings. Mr. Vestermanis, the former director of the Jewish Museum in Riga, a survivor of the "Kaiserwald concentration camp" in Riga gave an overview of the tragic fate of the Jewish population in Latvia, who had been put into the Ghetto and afterwards systematically murdered or forced to work in concentration camps.
The publication of this book was made possible due to contributions of the Austrian National Funds, the Austrian Future Fund, the Federal Province of Steiermark, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research and the Culture Department of the Vienna City Municipality (Science and Research Promotion).
Presentation of the newly published book „Österreichische Juden in Lettland. Flucht - Asyl - Internierung" ("Austrian Jews in Latvia. Refuge - Asylum - Deportation") took place in Latvia on 18 June 2010
Currently the book is available only in German language.
Original title: Österreichische Juden in Lettland
Verlag: StudienVerlag GmbH