Jungfernhof Concentration Camp

Riga, Latvia

The Jungfernhof concentration camp was an improvised concentration camp in Latvia. It was in operation from December 1941 through March 1942, and served as overflow housing for Jews from Germany and Austria, who had originally had been intended for Minsk as a destination.

The former estate of 200 hectares in size, had built on it a warehouse, three large barns, five small barracks and various cattle sheds. The partially falling down and unheatable buildings were unsuitable for the accommodation of several thousand people. There were no watchtowers or enclosing perimeter, rather a mobile patrol of ten to fifteen Latvian auxiliary police (Hilfspolizei) under the German commandant Rudolf Seck.

In December 1941 a total of 3,984 people were brought in four separate trains to Jungfernhof, including 136 children under ten years old, and 766 elders. On December 1, 1941, 1,013 Jews from Württemberg were entrained and sent to the camp. A further 964 were deported on December 6, 1941 from Hamburg, Lübeck (leaving only 90 Jews resident in the city, and others from throughout Schleswig-Holstein. Further transports came from Nuremberg with 1,008 persons and Vienna with 1,001.

About 800 of the prisoners died in the winter of 1941 to 1942 of hunger, cold, typhus. The testimony of an eyewitness, that there was a gas van assigned to the camp, is no longer believed and is treated as unsubstantiated.

In March 1942 the camp was dissolved. As part of the Dünamünde Action Under the false representation that they would be taken to an (actually nonexisting) camp in Dünamunde, where there would be better conditions and work assignments in a canning plant, between 1600 and 1700 inmates were taken to Biķernieki forest. There they were shot on March 26, 1942 and interred in mass graves, as previously Jews from the Riga Ghetto had been.

Of the approximately 4,000 people transported to Jungfernhof, only 148 persons survived.

 

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Maskavas iela 344, Riga, Latvia
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Founded: 1941
Category:
Historical period: World War II (Latvia)

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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.