Dinaburg, Dvinsk


Distance from Riga 232 km (A6)


Founded in 1275 as a castle, the settlement was officially designated a city in 1582. During the course of its history the city had different names: Dinaburg, Borisoglebov, Dvinsk (since 1893), and finally Daugavpils (since 1920). The local Jewish community was established in the late 18th century. The first reliable information about the number of Jews in the city is dated back to 1784, when 1,773 Jews were officially registered here. Dinaburg was the first city in Latvia, where since 1785, the local Council had Jewish members.

Shortly before the WWI, the number of Jews permanently residing in the city increased to 55,686, which made up 49 % of its total population. It was the biggest number of Jews ever lived in Daugavpils. World famous Rabbis lead the Jewish community of Daugavpils for several decades. Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen also known as Ohr Sameach (1843–1926) and Rabbi Yosef Rosen – Rogachover Gaon (1858–1936) were among them. 

By 1910, Dvinsk Jews had 34 functioning synagogues, hospital Bikur Holim, a nursing home and a Jewish theatre.

Dvinsk match factory employed 676 people and was the biggest in the Russian Empire in the late 19th century. The owner of this manufacturing plant was Shlomo Zak, a member of the local Jewish community. The 11,106 Jews, who lived in the city in 1935, made up 25% of its overall population. In the 1920s–1930s, the Daugavpils Jews owned more than 100 businesses. During this period 4 libraries, 10 youth clubs, 4 teachers’ clubs and several other Jewish organizations functioned in the city. Several yeshivas and Cheders, a Talmud Torah, 7 Jewish primary and 2 secondary schools also were in operation in Daugavpils. The number of synagogues in the city increased to 40.

Among Latvian citizens, deported by Stalin’s regime on the 14th of June 1941, 174 were Jewish.

The Nazi troops occupied Daugavpils on the 26th of June 1941. The 1,150 Jews shot dead in the early July 1941, were the first victims of the Holocaust in Daugavpils. The order to set up a ghetto was issued by the Nazi administration on the 15th of July 1941. On the 28th of October 1943, all the ghetto prisoners were transferred to Riga-Kaiserwald concentration camp.

Only 500 Holocaust survivors returned to their home town after the WWII. Some Jews from other republics of the former Soviet Union also moved to Daugavpils.

The city Jewish community was revived in the late 1980s. At present about 400 Jews permanently reside in the city. Both religious and secular Jewish communities are currently in operation. The synagogue and several Jewish organizations are functioning in Daugavpils.

Synagogue “Kaddish”, Cietokšņa, 38. The synagogue was built in 1850. The reconstruction of the building became possible in 2005-2006 thanks to the financial support of the children of the famous American artist Mark Rothko. Currently it is the only functioning synagogue in Daugavpils. Museum “Jews in Daugavpils and Latgale” is also situated here. The building is included in the List of Local Protected Monuments. 

The Great Communal Synagogue, Lāčplēša, 39. 220 people could attend services in this synagogue, built in 1840. During the Soviet period it was converted into a gym. The building is included in the List of Local Protected Monuments and is currently being used as a shop. 

Apter Synagogue, Sakņu, 29. It is considered that the synagogue was named after the Rabbi, who built it and served here. At present the fully reconstructed building is at the disposal of the local Jewish community. 

The House, Solomon Mikhoels was born in, Mihoelsa, 4. The famous actor and the theatrical director, the head of the State Yiddish Theatre in Moscow and the famous public figure Solomon Mikhoels (1890–1948) was born here on the 16th of March 1890. The memorial board, marking the actor’s centenary, can be seen on the façade of this house. 

Monument to Mark Rothko, 18 Novembra, 2, (on the bank of the river Daugava). This monument, designed by Romualds Gibovskis to commemorate the centenary of the Dvinsk-born leading abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko (1903–1970), was unveiled in September 2003. 

Jewish Secondary School, Saules, 38. The municipal Hebrew secondary school was opened here in 1935. In 1939/1940 academic year, the school employed 18 teachers and had 187 students. The building is included in the List of Local Protected Monuments. 

Jewish Handicraft School, Varšavas, 21. The building was designed by engineer J. Movshenzon and built in the early 20th century. The school was closed down in 1940. The building, included in the List of Local Protected Monuments, currently ventures the College of Transport. 

The Memorial Plate to Grszegosz Fitelberg, Mihoelsa, 58. The memorial plate, designed by Olga Baumane, was unveiled in 2005. Grszegosz Fitelberg (1879–1953) – the Polish composer, conductor and violinist of the Jewish origin was born in Dinaburg.

The Communal Cemetery, 18 Novembra, 220. The Jewish part of the cemetery was designated shortly after the Old Jewish cemetery was closed down in the mid-1950s. The world famous Rabbis Meir Simcha HaCohen and Yosef Rosen were re-buried here. There also are several areas of the compact (100 to 200 graves) Jewish burials in the other two sections of the cemetery. Some headstones were made before the WWII. The monument in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is situated near the cemetery chapel. 

The Bridge Fortress, Lielā, 1. It is currently being used as a prison. The Jewish ghetto was situated here from the mid-July 1941 to the 1st of May 1942. More than 15,000 Jews from Daugavpils and many other towns and schtettles of Latgale, and the refugees from Lithuania were kept prisoner here. Some 9,000 of them were exterminated. 

Mežciems Monument in Memory of the Victims of Fascism, traveling from the city border towards Riga, on the 6 km mark turn off to the right and travel 1 km into the forest, following by a turn to the left and another trek of 100 m. The original monument was unveiled in 1960. Later, in 1989, the remains of the executed Jews were re-buried here. The monument in memory of the victims of the Holocaust was opened in 2007. 

The Monument in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, 18 Novembra, 66a. It was unveiled in 2007 on the site of the mass execution of 1,150 Jews beyond the town prison. 

The Memorial for the Victims of the Holocaust, traveling on the road from Daugavpils to Riga turn off the road to the right at the 7th km of your journey, follow the path 100 m into the forest to reach this landmark. Designed by sculptor Oleg Marinoha, the memorial was opened on the 10th November 1991. There centerpiece monument displays the words “In memory of the Children of Israel”, written in Yiddish. The 16 stones, surrounding it, show the names of the countries occupied by the Nazis during the WWII and the numbers of Jewish victims in each of them.

Daugavpils Museum of Regional Studies and Art, Rīgas, 8. The permanent exhibition displays the highest quality copies of the paintings by Mark Rothko. A section of the museum is dedicated to life and works of composer Oskar Strok, (1892–1975) – “The King of Tango”, born in Dvinsk.



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