17 December 2010

Riga and Back in One Morning - The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum

I flew to Riga and back this morning. My virtual trip was sparked by a bittersweet gift that arrived in my Google Reader feed yesterday from Ann Rabinowitz of the Jewish Gen blog. Her post, titled The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum. reported that the museum, Rigas Geto Muzejs in Latvian, has online databases. Quickly I flew over to the new website and plugged in Bubbie's maiden name, Brisk, into the database for The Names of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Several Brisk names appeared including; 

Brisk, Benno
Brisk, Bunja
Brisk, Elias
Brisk, Jossel Mer
Brisk, Leib
Brisk, Minna
Brisk, Zila

The names Jossel Mer and Leib are familiar from earlier research findings. Jossel Mer may or may not be the Yiddish name of Bubbie's brother, Joseph. Leibe is the name given by Bubbie's sister, Ida, as the closest relative she left behind in Latvia in 1908.

Plugging the Brisk name into the other available database, somewhat disturbingly titled Names of the Dead Jewish children, results in information for a male child, Leib Brisk. He is identified as having been born in Riga on January 11, 1937 to Moisey Meise Aisik Brisk and Tsila (no maiden name given). Place of death and fate are listed as unknown.

The databases give good clues, but results from searching the two databases are to be taken with a grain of salt. The museum purports to have over seventy thousand names of victims. According to Victoria Shaldova, Executive Director, the list is a work in progress. The database of children includes not only Jewish children, but all Latvian children. The databases are vaguely referred to as being based on archive information. A comment by 'admin' in September 2010 stated that the website was not public yet, which may explain the lack of source information.

The website does have photographs showing the museum in several stages from rubble to opening day. It is well worth a visit to look at them. I said that finding out about this museum and its databases was a bittersweet gift. I am driven to find out what happened to the Brisks and other members of the family so that we can make certain that they will always be remembered. Finding more clues to Bubbie's family's fate is sweet, but bitter is the sadness I feel when seeing their names and thinking about so many lives cut short. This may also turn out to be an expensive gift as well. Virtual trips are free, but I really want to jump on an airplane and fly to Latvia tomorrow.

Thank you for sharing my virtual trip to The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum and thank you to Jewish Gen for alerting me to this great website! 

Scrappy Gen


  1. Wow. I wish you the very best of luck in finding out what happened to these members of your family so that their lives will never be forgotten.

  2. Yes, Bittersweet. Very sobering databases. I hope you can find some conclusive information.


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