Below is a very brief Jewish history of Valdemarpils. A reading list for further information is included below.
Jews began settling in Sassmacken in the 18th century, and a synagogue was built in the late 1700’s. Rabbi Kalmonimos is mentioned there in 17751. The Jewish community supported itself through the lumber industry, and in the mid-19th century accounted for 84% of the town’s population.2 From some accounts, it was for a time a center for the area’s Jewish merchants. Toward the end of the 19th-century, the Jewish population began moving to larger towns and cities and emigrating to other countries.
On April 28, 1915, the Jews of Kurland were ordered to leave within 24 hours3. They were accused of sympathizing with the Germans. Most were sent to five provinces within Russia designated to take the expelled Jews. Only a few returned after the war, and before World War II, the Jewish population stood at less than 160. Those remaining were murdered when the Germans occupied the town in the summer or fall of 1941.
The German name, Sassmacken, was replaced by the Latvian, Valdemarpils in 19261.
- 1863: 14234
- 1881: 17745
- 1881: 18904
- 1897: 18335
- 1897: 18844
- 1910: 13045
- 1913: 15004
- 1920: 9595
- 1925: 10645
- 1930: 11305
- 1935: 11355
- 1952: 11356
- 1881: 11975
- 1897: 8995
- 1910: 4545
- 1920: 1695
- 1925: 1565
- 1930: 1615,7
- 1935: 1595
- 1941: population murdered under German occupation, summer or fall of 19418
- from Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Latvia & Estonia, Dov Levin, ed., Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel, 1988, p.109, translation
- Rabbi Kalonimos, from late 18th century
- Rabbi Yitzhak Halevy, from ca. 1825
- Rabbi Moshe Lernblatt, ca. 1850 until his death in 1887
- Rabbi Avraham Rovitzky (Dubitzky), 1887 to 1901
- Rabbi Moshe Ehrenblatt, 1901 to 1912
- “Valdemarpils”, from the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv, Israel.
- “Valdemarpils,” from the Museum “Jews in Latvia,” Riga, Latvia.
- Dr. Shaul Lipschitz, “Jewish Communities in Kurland“, from The Jews in Latvia, published by the Association of Latvian and Esthonian Jews in Israel, Tel Aviv, 1971. pp.276-285.
- Kurland: Eine allgemeine Siedlungs-, Verkehrs- und Wirtschaftsgeographie, Dr. F. Mager, L. Friederichsen & Co., Hamburg, Germany, 1920, p.61
- Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Latvia & Estonia, Dov Levin, ed., Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel, 1988, p.109, translation
- Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World, Leon E. Seltzer, ed., Columbia University Press, 1952, p.1998.
- Black Book of Localities Whose Jewish Population Was Exterminated by the Nazis, Avotaynu microfiche, 1989.
- The Encylcopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, Vol.3, ed. Shmuel Spector, New York University Press, New York, 2001, p.1372.
The titles below are specifically for Valdemarpils/Sassmacken history. An additional list of Courland resources is available here.
- Kurlandische Verkehr und Adresbuch, 1892/1893
- Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, Vol.56, pp.45. St. Petersburg, 1890. “Sasmaken“
- Katzen, Solomon. The Autobiography of Solomon Katzen, The Early Years: 1902-1923. 1995.
- Levin, Dov. “Valdemarpils” Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Latvia and Estonia.
- Museum “Jews in Latvia.” Valdemarpils.
- Oranovski, A. Kurljandskaja gubernija. (Gouvernement Kurland.) Petersburg, 1862. “Cities in Talsen Uyezd“