Riga Shoah museum to close after lease expiry

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Riga Shoah museum to close after lease expiry

Latvian authorities to shut The Shamir Association's 'Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum' after it was unable to stump up funds

Riga Ghetto Museum cannot afford to stay open
Riga Ghetto Museum cannot afford to stay open

City authorities in the Latvian capital have said they are closing the Holocaust museum, after the expiration of a preferential land lease agreement.

The Shamir Association, which operates the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, said it was now being asked by the council to pay full market price, which it cannot afford, forcing the institution’s imminent closure after 10 years.

Association chair Rabbi Dr Menachem Barkahan said: “This is not a local commercial conflict. The city council’s decision will show whether the preservation of Holocaust memory is an important value for Latvian authorities or not.

Cattle cart at the museum in Riga

“As Latvian citizens, we cannot accept that in our country money is worth more than the memory of our fathers killed by Nazi occupiers.”

Under the terms of the expiring contract, the museum pays just 10 percent of taxes as a rental fee, and said the new proposal was “unacceptable” because it requires the museum “to let go of part of its territory”.

It said this was “where an important segment of the memorial is located, namely, Ghetto Street, bearing the names of 75,000 Latvian Jews and 25,000 Jews from Western Europe who perished in Latvia during the Holocaust”.

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