Jewish Life in Interwar Latvia

Collection of posters, broadsheets, and ephemera pertaining to the Latvian Jewish Community in Riga, Daugavpils, and Jūrmala in the 1920-30s.

Collection of posters, broadsheets, and ephemera pertaining to the Latvian-Jewish community in Riga, Daugavpils and Jūrmala in the 1920s and 1930s. Please inquire for a detailed list of contents and further images.

The vibrant cultural, political and religious life of the community is captured in theater posters, announcements of political meetings and lectures, as well as cantor performances during high holidays. Especially well represented are the performances of the Jewish Minority Theater of Riga, events of the “Maccabi Youth” (a Jewish athletics organization), Latvian-Jewish political parties such as Histadruth Hacionith, as well as a variety of Latvian branches of international Jewish organizations, such as Karen HaYesod [The Foundation Fund], the Bund, Kulturliga and the United Zionist Socialist Parties. Ephemera connected with the two major Latvian Jewish newspapers, “Dos Folk” and “Naier Fraitik”, is also present. Most of the items are printed in Latvian and Yiddish, targeting the old Jewish community of Latvia established in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A few of the pamphlets printed in Latvian and Hebrew are typically connected to the Jewish religious community or emerging Zionist movement. One poster in Latvian, Yiddish and Russian is a testament to the growing Russian-Jewish émigré population in the early 1920s composed of individuals fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution. One handbill, entirely in Latvian, advertises a Jewish business to the local non-Jewish community, highlighting the business activity of the Latvian-Jewish population. The collection provides a window into the life of a community, of which a startling eighty percent was annihilated during WWII.

The Jewish community of Latvia numbered over ninety thousand in the 1920s and 1930s, with nearly half of this population centered in Riga. To accommodate the community, Riga had thirty synagogues, with forty in Daugavpils. The relatively secular Jewish community of Riga also had a Jewish National Conservatory, one amateur worker’s theater and the professional Jewish Minority Theater. Unlike many other Jewish theater troupes in Eastern Europe, which tended to perform in rented spaces, the former had its own building on 6 Skolas Street starting in 1926. The building also housed a Jewish community center, a library and is today the home of the museum “Jews in Latvia.” The posters in this collection announce tours of Yiddish Theater starts from Vienna, the popular Villner Troupe and the United States indicating the high international standing of the community which flourished in the 1920s. In 1934 the Fascist coup in Latvia led to the shutting down of all Jewish political parties, with many of the posters and handbills in this collection advertising organizations that ceased to exist after 1934. The “Jewish Minority Theater” continued to operate in Riga, changing its name to the “Jewish Theater” after 1934, with this collection containing posters and ephemera connected with the theater before and after the coup. All Jewish organizations were dissolved in Latvia in 1940 when it was annexed by the Soviet Union. The present collection is an outstanding basis for future acquisitions, as further materials may be deaccessioned from private collections in Europe (primarily in Latvia). A collection of this extent is not likely to be offered in the trade again in the near future.

Book ID: P5268

Price: $6,500.00