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Alternate names: Courland, Kurland, Kurzeme, (Latvian: Kurzeme; Livonian: Kurāmō, German: Kurland; Latin: Curonia / Couronia; Lithuanian: Kuršas; Estonian: Kuramaa; Polish: Kurlandia; Russian: Курляндия; Belarusian: Курляндыя; Finnish: . 57°00' N 22°00' E , 79.1 miles W of Rīga. Situated in western Latvia, Courland contains the counties of Kuldīga, Liepāja, Saldus, Talsi, Tukums and Ventspils. When Semigallia and Selonia are added, Courland's NE boundary is the river Daugava, separating it from Latgale and Vidzeme. Courland's north boundary is the Gulf of Riga. Baltic Sea is the west border. On the south is Lithuania. In 1906, Jews were 8% of the population.

Jewish history.

JewishGen Latvia SIG

VIDEO: Jelgava(Mitau)-Tukums-Sabile-Kandava-Kuldiga (Goldingen)-Ventspils (217KB) -Another name of this video " Beautifull Kurland". ... streets of Tukums, Jelgava and Kuldiga, see synagogues and 200 years old cemeteries. [March 2009]

The oldest Jewish community in Latvia, Courland was made up of Piltene (Pilten) and Courland. In the 12th century, the Livonian Knights took the region from local tribes and forbade Jews to settle. Piltene's valuable Baltic Sea port was a separate entity owned by the head of the Church of Courland. Jews first arrived in Piltene in around 1571, after the Bishop of Courland sold the land to the King of Denmark, who then gave it to his brother, Duke Magnus von Holstein. The duchy became an island within the province of Courland prompting numerous military conflicts with Poland its purchased by Poland in 1585. In 1561, Jews were allowed to live in Piltene but not the rest of Courland. Piltene Jewish traders and businessmen built the first synagogue was built in Aizpute (Hasenpoth) in 1708. Courland Jews spoke German, not Yiddish, until World War II although dialect of German called "Courland Yiddish" also developed. The haskalah was popular, but Courland Jewry were less assimilated than Western European Jewry.Courland Jewish culture differs significantly from that of the rest of Latvia because of its proximity to Germany although the neighboring Lithuanian Jewish community slightly influenced it.The community's position declined after the Duke of Courland and Piltene made an alliance. The Courland Jewish population outside Piltene steadily increased during the 17th century when Jews were labeled foreigners and faced anti-Jewish measures especially from competing merchants and craftsmen. Generally, the duchy treated the Jews well until 1713 when the community was theoretically expelled from the province. Those remaining had to pay one taler a day for themselves and for those who refused to pay. In 1719, the Jews made a deal to remain for 400 talers. From 1727 to 1738, the government order of expulsion never was entirely carried out until 1760 when the duchy ruthlessly forced them out. Piltene and Courland became part of Russia in 1795. The 4,581 Jewish males living in Courland received Russian citizenship by 1799, but forced them to pay double taxes. Courland was not included in the Pale of Settlement created in 1804. In the mid-19th century, despite heavy restrictions on citizenship, Jews from the Pale escaped to Courland. By 1850, the Jewish population rose to 51,072 and 68,000 on the eve of World War I.  During that war, Jews were blamed for Russian military defeats and accused of treason leading to their expulsion from western Courland in May 1915 when approximately 40,000 Jews were forced to leave. When Courland was incorporated into the independent Republic of Latvia in 1918, some refugees and exiles returned although in 1925, only 22,548 Jews lived in the province. [March 2009]


Last Updated on Monday, 17 January 2011 13:46
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