Israeli President Shimon Peres, pictured, attended the opening of a Latvia Holocaust museum honoring a couple that hid Jews. Credit: World Economic Forum.
(JNS.org) Israeli President Shimon Peres attended
a ceremony marking the opening of a museum honoring a couple that saved 50 Jews
during the Nazi occupation of Latvia in World War II.
located in Latvia’s capital of Riga, honors Zanis Lipke and his wife Johana,
who hid Jews in a 90-square foot-underground pit. Yad Vashem honored Zanis and
Johana in 1966 as “Righteous Among the Nations,” Israel’s official recognition for
non-Jews who helped save Jews during the Holocaust.
Latvia had a
thriving Jewish community prior to the Holocaust. Jews were represented in
Latvia’s parliament during its period of independence between World War I and
World War II.
“The Jews of Latvia
invested a lot in Latvia’s prosperity, but the Holocaust destroyed them,” Peres
said at a state dinner hosted by Latvian President Andris Berzins before the
ceremony, The Baltic Course reported.
At the dinner,
Peres spoke about the Rumbula Massacre, in which a Nazi SS unit killed about
25,000 Jews with the help of local collaborators. But Peres also mentioned that
many Latvians, including Zanis Lipke, worked to save Jewish lives during the