Picture and text by Mark R. Hatlie
This picture was taken on July 4, 1999, in Riga, Latvia.
The German army entered Riga on July 1, 1941. Three days later, there was a kind of pogrom in which Jews were rounded up, beaten, harassed, and even killed. The synagogue was burned down to its foundation. For decades, the ruins just lay there. After Latvian independence, however, the debris and brush was cleared, laying the foundation and cellar of the synagogue free, and this memorial stone erected.
I had arrived too late to see the memorial ceremony on the anniversary, but the flowers were still fresh. The man in the picture, an elderly Jew, is a survivor of sorts. He was not in Riga back then, having left with the retreating Soviet Army. He told me he took part in the recapture of the city in 1944, however, and now lives there again.