KULDIGA: Kurzeme Print

Alternate names: Kuldīga [Latv], Goldingen [Ger and Yiddish], Kuldyga [Lith], Goldynga [Pol], Kuldīgas.  56°58' N, 21°59' E , in W Latvia, 80 miles W of Rīga, 48 miles NE of Liepāja (Libau). 1900 Jewish population: 2,543.


Kuldiga town website in English.

Former synagogue at 1905 St 6 Street was constructed in 1875 and used for storage during and after WWII. In 1958, it became the Kurzeme cinema, but today is unused. Plans to make it the town library exist. See history and Wikipedia history and photo.

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 town in western Latvia is the center of Kuldigas County with a population of approximately 13,500. Kuldīga was first mentioned in 1242 and joined the Hanseatic League in 1368. In the 17th century, Kuldīga along with Jelgava (Mitau) was one of the capitals of the Duchy of Courland.Ventas rumba, a 249-meter wide natural rapid is the widest in Europe.The original inhabitants, the Cours, built a fortification as early as the 9th century. On the River Venta with a waterfall named the Rumba, Kuldiga was a military and administrative settlement center beginning in the 13th century.  German knights took control of this area and began to build their first castle in 1242. A few Jews lived here without legal status from the late fourteenth century, but the first Jewish settlement in Kuldiga began in the late 1600s. After 1799 when Russia annexed Courland, Jews were granted civic rights. In 1800, 658 Jewish merchants and craftsmen living in the Goldingen district (15% of 4350) with a strong German Jewish cultural bent. About 1801, the first synagogue was built and a chevra kadisha founded. Shortly, a "talmud torah" was built and Jewish social organizations formed. Jews of means sent their children to the local German high school eventhough by 1901, three private Jewish schools, one for boys and the other two for girls, were available. Instruction was in German and Hebrew. Jews from the Pale of Settlement in Russia and from Lithuania arriving later (religious). Some were Hassidim. Kuldiga's Jews were tradesmen, peddlers, innkeepers, agents, and producers of alcohol. At end of the 19th century, a flour mill and matches and needle factory and a credit fund for Jewish merchants and tradesmen reflected the improving economic situation as Jewish merchants supplanted Baltic German businessmen. Jewish population: 1835 was 2330 (57%), and 1850 was 2534 (112 merchants and 1137 craftsmen). In 1840, 171 of Kuldiga's Jews (22 families) left for free land agricultural settlements Cherson province on the Ottoman Empire border, exempt from military service and some taxes. The synagogue at 1905 utca 6 constructed in 1875 is one of the largest buildings in Kuldiga with a splendid interior of marble with gilded details. Part of a larger complex with an adjacent prayer house and Jewish school existing today, its Jewish community was active since the 16th century. Source with photo.  By the 18th century, the Jewish population of Kurzeme played an active role in the economic life of the province. In 1941 the synagogue became a trap when all of Kuldigas' Jews were imprisoned in the synagogue and held there for several days by Nazis and Latvian sympathizers, before being divided into smaller groups and shot in the nearby forests. Shortly after the extermination of Jews, Germans set up food storage in the synagogue. Later during the first years of the Soviet Union a grain house was set up inside, and later abandoned for a couple of years. In 1958 the synagogue was transformed into the cinema Kurzeme. It contained 450 seats and a reading room. It remained a cinema until 2003, after the reinstatement of Latvian independence. In later years there was also a café and night club. In the present there are plans for of its transformation into the central library of Kuldiga. In 1897, 2,543 Jews were 26% of a total of 9,720. Difficult economic and political times in the latter half of the nineteenth century encouraged Kuldiga Jews to emigrate either to larger port cities of Libau and Windau or to the U.S. or South Africa as steamship services become more appealing. town photos and map. Symposium Kuldiga. [March 2009]

Cemetery was bounded by Edoles, Nomales and Liepajas Streets, but little survives. history

Cemetery: The old cemetery on the western side of the town (Vecie kapi) between Liepajas iela and Parka iela, has sections belonging to different faiths. The grounds are well maintained as a park, but relatively few marked graves remain. The Jewish section is at the back, on Parka iela, and has a couple of dozen marked graves, mainly from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The most recent graves date from the 1930s. The present park was set out in the late 1960s or early 1970s. According to the town architect (June 1995), the cemeteries became overgrown and in a state of disrepair. Local authorities considered several schemes to restore them. Unfortunately, they settled on the controversial one of preserving only intact graves and removing the fallen stones, which were subsequently sent to Skrunda (about 30 km away) and destroyed. Thus, most of the cemetery was destroyed. About 40 tombstones still remain, some with inscriptions dating from the 1820s. Source: Abraham Lenhoff; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .[date?]

photo and burial list All Latvia Cemetery List [March 2009] See burial list. [January 2011]

Last Updated on Monday, 17 January 2011 13:33