Jewish Life and Resistance in the Liepaja Region

is a documentary film looking at Jewish history and culture since the migration of Jews to Courland, with a focus on Liepaja and Aizpute in the 40ies of the last century.

idea | research | dramaturgy | interviewing | subtitles | editing alexandra reill
camera work | sound recording alexandra reill | krisjanis sneiders
translation krisjanis sneiders
production interdisciplinary art group serde | aizpute / latvia 2013

During Alexandra Reill‘s artist-in-residency at SERDE, she researched Jewish history in the region, with a special focus on the 40ies. Due to the advice and support of the Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE she had the chance to record a series of interviews forming the key material of the documentary film and produced a raw edit and parts of the transcription | translation into English / German of the interviews held in the Latvian language – with the very kind support of Krisjanis Sneiders.

Looking at the history of Jews in this region one can still feel the impact of Jewish life on the development on the region but, on the other hand, one needs to face the terrible fact of nearly full eradication of the Jewish population of Latvia and the murdering of dozens of thousands of Jews deported from Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia and other countries by the Fascist regime to Latvia.

The participation of Latvians in such massacres as i. e. the shooting of nearly 400 Jewish people in the woods [… close to] Aizpute and nearly 2,800 people in the dunes of Šķēde still seems to be a burden on the memories of local population about which many people do not like to talk and which many are afraid to remember. Being born in Austria as member of first follow-up generation of Austrian so-called major population and having worked since 2004 on several projects reflecting the Holocaust with its impact not only on those who lived and died in the 40ies but also on follow-up generations, [… Reill has become] very conscious of the importance of continuous efforts to reveal mystifications of the Nazi past and traditions of denial in Austria which, in very many cases, are prolonged in the self-identification of members of follow-up generations until today, and of the responsibility of contributing to further such efforts.

The mission of the film Jewish Life and Resistance in the Liepaja Region [work title] is to contribute to such approaches and to contribute to the acknowledgement of Jewish culture in Latvia by giving Jewish history and culture in the Liepaja region a voice and at the same time constellating it with memories of local population of today so that, on the one hand, eventual myths of denial can show themselves for what they are, and, on the other hand, better understanding of the complexity of Latvian history can be undertaken. This context is reflected by a constellation of interviews with local Jewish and non-Jewish representatives of Aizpute and Liepaja. (*)

Unfortunately and due to lack of financial resources and access to further professional translation it was not possible to finish the documentary in Vienna. It is unpublished.

(*)
text nn: serde. artists in residencies 2013, interdisciplinary art group SERDE, aizpute 2014, p. 2

Our deep thxs go to

— all the counseling and interview partners
— signe pucena
— ugis pucens
— krisjanis sneiders
— interdisciplinary art group serde