VILNIUS - TRAKAI - KAUNAS - RIGA - TALLINN - ST. PETERSBURG
The history of the Jews in Latvia dates back to the first Jewish colony established in Piltene in 1571. Jews contributed to Latvia's development until the Northern War (1700–1721), which decimated Latvia's population. The Jewish community reestablished itself in the 18th century, mainly through an influx from Prussia, and came to play a principal role in the economic life of Latvia. The origin of the Jews of Lithuania has been a subject of much speculation. The first reliable document attesting the presence of Jews in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is the charter of 1388 granting privileges to the Jews in Trakai. In the suburban district known to the Jews as Slobodka that on German orders, the Kovno (as Kaunas was once called) Ghetto was sealed on August 15, 1941 with 29,000 impounded people. The area had been a Jewish village for four hundred years.
Riga, the capital of Latvia was a member of the Hanseatic League. Jewish merchants became active in the city from the mid-sixteenth century, although opposition from local merchants forced them to live on the outskirts of the town. After the Russian conquest at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Jewish commercial activity expanded. The Jewish population continued to grow in both Riga itself and neighboring Sloka despite several expulsion orders, and Jews played a central role in economic and commercial life, engaging in trade, industry, and finance. At the end of November and the beginning of December 1942, the Nazis carried out Aktions. Some Jews were murdered immediately; others were taken to concentration camps and nearby killing sites, including Salaspils, Rumbula, and Bikernieki. At the beginning of 1943, Jews from Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, and Hungary were brought to the Kaiserwald concentration camp not far from Riga. The ghetto was wiped out at the end of 1943, and the concentration camp was destroyed in the fall of 1944.
Reval was renamed Tallinn in 1918, and the capital city of the Republic of Estonia—which gained independence from the Soviet Union on August 20, 1991. Jews have added color to Estonia ever since their arrival in the 14th century, though their own history has been tumultuous. Permanent settlements did not begin until 1865, But the good times came to an abrupt halt in 1940 when Estonia was incorporated into the Soviet Union and Jewish autonomy was terminated. In June 1941,
The history of the Jews in Saint Petersburg (formerly known as Petrograd and then Leningrad) dates back to the 18th century and there is still a Jewish community in the city today. In the late 18th century, the annexation of eastern Poland meant millions more Jews were now subjects of the Russian Empire, many of whom flocked to the city. The community continued to grow, despite expulsions and persecution, and flourished creatively until the Bolshevik Revolution. Under the Soviet Union. Today, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the city remains home to a sizable Jewish community and many Jewish institutions. The Grand Choral Synagogue of Saint Petersburg is the third-largest synagogue in Europe.