So It Was Indeed!

A memoir of the Holocaust in Latvia by Avraham Shpungin

Avraham Shpungin's book is one of only a very few book length Holocaust memoirs published by Latvian Jews. His story spans almost the entirety of the Holocaust in Latvia.

He was born in the shtetl of Jakobstadt (Jēkabpils), where his family was murdered by the notorious Viktors Arājs kommando in the summer of 1941. He himself was interred in the Riga Ghetto, first in the large ghetto and then in the smaller "men's ghetto" following the massacres of most of the ghetto population at Rumbula forest in December. He was later moved to the Kaiserwald concentration camp in northern Riga and from there to the little known Dundaga concentraion camp in Kurzeme (Courland) in western Latvia. There he witnessed the deaths of thousands of prisoners from cold, hunger, violence, and typhus, as they worked clearing the forest to prepare training bases for newly recruited Waffen SS divisions on their way to the Eastern Front.

Mr. Shpungin's is perhaps the only eye-witness account of the wartime operations at Dundaga. He describes an archipelago that came to comprise six separate camps by mid-1944. When the front approached, he and another prisoner, Matis Frost, escaped and hid in a nearby barn. They survived thanks to a Latvian family, Anton and Klāra Vanags, who hid them and kept them alive until the war's end, almost a year later.

On this site, you can read sample chapters from a new translation of the book, as well as view new photos of many of the locations in Latvia and other supplemental materials.

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