Riebiņi, Latvia
Alternate names: Riebiņi [Latv], Ribene [Ger], Ribenishki [Rus], Ribinishok [Yid], Rybiniszki [Pol],
Rybinischki, Ribinishki, Ribiņiški, Ribeny, Ribeņi, Silajani 56°20' N, 26°48' E

The Holocaust in Riebiņi

The history of Riebini during the Shoah is similar to that of most small towns with a Jewish population in present-day Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and other areas that were occupied by the Soviet army during the summer of 1940. In June 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. Mobile killing squads known as Einzatsgruppen followed the invading forces, often enlisting the participation of local nationalist auxiliary police forces. At least 20 inhabitants of Riebini joined the Red Army to fight the Germans. Following the Russian defeat in July 1941, anti-Soviet Latvians began to round up Jewish residents, especially those with leftist leanings. At the end of August 1941, Latvian civil defense police (Aizsargi) arrived in three trucks to round up the Jews of Riebini. According to the Soviet Extraordinary Commission report, this happened over a 3-day period, from August 23 to 25. "This group was completed by Latvian volunteers (Aizsargi) and several Germans who watched the Aktion. The victims were arrested and locked into the synagogues. Then they were moved to Ribinishki Forest (4 km. northwest of Ribinishki) and killed there. There were some local inhabitants lived in Soluions district) who took part in that bloody Aktion…" Riebini is included on a list of towns marked Judenrein (free of Jews) that hangs in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The USHMM holds a copy of list of names of the victims of Riebini that is part of the Soviet Extraordinary Commission report. As the Soviet Union recaptured lands from the Germans in World War II, it established a commission, known as the "Extraordinary Commission to Investigate German-Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory", whose purpose was to document German atrocities occurring on Soviet soil. The records of the Commission are arranged by locality. The lists were compiled from interviews with inhabitants of the towns, some years after the fact. While the data is of genealogical and historical value, it is nonetheless subject to error, and as with everything done by the Soviets, the commission had ulterior political motives. The records are handwritten in Russian. There is a narrative of atrocities that occurred in the area, as well as a list of victims and perpetrators. This is a sample page from the report.

Additional lists were compiled by former residents of the town and held in the Archives of the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews at Kibbutz Shefayim in Israel. Five pages of this list (very poor copies) were obtained by researcher Omer Or while researching his family, and can be viewed here. A clearer version (likely a transcription or different version) of this list appears as item ID 5248015 in the Yad Vashem digital collections archives, although its origins are not specified (click the link to the PDF at the bottom of the description). These lists, in Yiddish, appear to be more accurate than the Soviet Extraordinary Commission lists.