Memorial in the Bikernieki forest
The biggest site of mass killing and burial of victims of Nazi terror in Latvia is located in Biķernieku Forest. From 1941 till 1944, 35,000 people, including Latvian and Western European Jews, Soviet war prisoners, and the Nazis’ political adversaries, were killed here.
To date, 55 mass graves have been found in Biķernieku Forest.
The total number of Jewish victims lying in the mass graves of Biķernieku Forest is about 20,000. The first Jewish victims were several thousand men arrested in the first weeks of July, 1941 who were kept in the Central Prison and later brought to Biķernieku Forest to be shot. In 1942 about 12,000 Jews from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia were shot here. In 1943, Riga Ghetto prisoners who were not transferred to the “Kaizerwald” concentration camp were killed here, followed in the autumn of 1944 by those “Kaizerwald” prisoners no longer able to work.
On November 30, 2001 with the support of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V., the National Fund of the Republic of Austria, the German government, and the municipalities of several German towns the memorial designed by Sergejs Rizhs was opened to the public.
At the centre of the memorial there is a black granite cube symbolizing the altar, with quotations from the Book of Job carved into its sides: “O earth, do not conceal my blood! Let there not be a place for my screams! (16:18).” The ground is covered with thousands of granite stones to resemble a traditional Jewish cemetery. Several stones have the names of European cities carved into them. These are the birth places of those who lie in Biķernieku Forest. The concrete pillars located all around the territory of the memorial have various signs on them: the Star of David, the Crown of Thorns and the Cross.