RIGA - The Holocaust is a tragedy of Latvia, many other European countries and the whole mankind, and the memory of Holocaust victims is and will be alive in Latvia, Saeima Speaker Edvards Smiltens (United List) said at a commemorative events by a Holocaust memorial in Rumbula, outside Riga, on Wednesday.
"Latvia has always firmly and consistently condemned the crimes against humanity committed by the occupation power and its henchmen... We are also honoring those who during even the darkest times could remain humane and selflessly rescue the innocent from imminent death," the Saeima press office quoted Smiltens as saying.
The Saeima speaker indicated that today Latvia remembers one of the bleakest days in its history, a day of a great loss. "25,000 Jews - innocent lives - were killed in Rumbula. They were Latvia's people. Residents of Riga, neighbors, friends and colleagues. They were our people. An inalienable part of Latvia culturally, historically and humanely," Smiltens said.
The Saeima speaker stressed that this place of massacre in Rumbula is a symbol warning us. "Looking back into history, we see that in just a few years unrestrained evil can cut such deep wounds that would not heal for centuries," Smiltens said, adding that sadly such events can be seen also today.
"We believed that intolerance stoked on a national level, aggression, racism and hatred are all things of the past, but Russia's atrocities and brutal war crimes in Ukraine are proving otherwise. The war in Ukraine shows the importance of not being indifferent to our past, and that our freedom and independence are fragile things we all have to protect together," Smiltens said.
Rumbula is one of the largest sites of mass extermination of Jews. In November 1941, more than 25,000 Jews from the Riga Ghetto and approximately 1,000 Jews deported from Germany were killed in the Rumbula forest.