Everyday Life in the Ghetto

»Deported to their Deaths« – panel 7 – Deportation and Death

Despite brutal circumstances, everyday life developed a certain “normality”. A council of elders, appointed by the SS commander’s office, ensured that day-to-day operations in the ghetto ran smoothly. Among other things, the council was in charge of the food distribution, a ghetto police force, and a labour exchange (German: Zentralarbeitsstelle).

Thousands of ghetto inhabitants performed forced labour in the German Wehrmacht facilities and the industrial plants that supplied the Front from Riga. Their wages were confiscated by the Nazi occupation administration. The spectrum of activities was large, and work conditions varied. Only a fraction of the men that were ordered to build the Salaspils concentration camp during the winter of 1941/42 returned to the ghetto. Detainees that were not able to work had to stay in the ghetto. Children received schooling; the sick were looked after in the military hospital. There were Jewish and Christian church services, self-produced theatre performances, and concerts. People, and in particular the youth of the community, sought distractions at dance events.

After the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, SS henchmen and Latvian auxiliary police executed the “Operation Dünamünde”. By April 1942, approximately 4000 people who were deemed unfit to work had been collected from their living quarters and shot in the forest of Biķernieki.

Picture credits

Archive Scheffler


Exhibition: Deported to their Deaths
Duration: December 15th, 2011 to January 27th, 2012
Location: Neues Rathaus Hannover, Bürgersaal
Panel: 7 from 39 – Deportation and Death
Size: 650 x 2050 mm
Technique: Digital print on Alu-Dibond