Plot of Land

Dear Friends,

We are very glad to be able to share some wonderful news with you! Thanks to each of your generous donations, we have been able to raise the funds necessary for the purchase of land for the “House of Courage” (Žanis Lipke Memorial).

6 Mazais Balasta dambis, Riga – it is here, across the road from the Žanis Lipke Memorial, that the House of Courage will stand in a few years. A place free of prejudices and stereotypes, the House of Courage will provide an educational centre for discussing the dilemmas and challenges facing modern society, and teach a new generation of Latvians to conduct open dialogue.

To buy the land, it was necessary that we raise € 350,000. Thanks to the support of 273 philanthropists, we exceed this target by € 75 656, which has been used to fund the design of the new building. We are excited to announce that the House of Courage will be built according to a design by the MADE architectural bureau, which was selected from a total of 17 proposals sent to us for consideration.

“House of Courage”, MADE architectural bureau project.

We are happy that the story of a righteous Latvian man has interested so many people – people who are often connected neither to Latvia nor to the Jewish people. We see this as a confirmation of the fact that the acts of the righteous – the acts of people who were ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others – remain an example of humanity to those living today.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your trust and support,

Yours sincerely,

Māris Gailis, Founder of the Žanis Lipke Memorial

Manifest

Dock worker Žanis Lipke under impossible circumstances saved people who were not considered people by the authorities and neighbours under German occupation. That required courage and friends.

Being brave isn’t easy, being the minority isn’t easy. Hating and suspecting any otherness is easier, it takes no effort.

But we want to live in a country where your fellow men and women are considered people. We would like our society to be brave, reliable, and considerate. Capable of cooperation and self-regulation, not expecting orders “from above”. And we want to work to make it happen.

We want to create a place in Riga for young people to gather and build resistance to automatic stereotyping and common casually repeated hateful myths.

Civic courage is something to be learned, to be taught, to be trained like a muscle, like a racehorse. That is why House of Courage will be a training ground for kids and youngsters of Latvia. Let’s help lionhearts grow their courage and learn to deal with its consequences and side effects too.

House of Courage will be located right next to Žanis Lipke Memorial on the island of Ķīpsala, an integral part of the “Knowledge Mile” that already incorporates several universities, business centres, museums and the National Library of Latvia.

We are aiming high, but the target is well within reach – we want to be the springboard for a new civil society as it researches its history and brings courageous ideas to life, changing the world for the better.

And everyone can lend a hand in reaching this aim. Donate to develop courage in the new generation and the entire society. Donate to Lipke House of Courage!

COURAGE

Courage is to stand up for the weaker, courage is to say what you think, courage is to ask if you do not understand. Courage is to say an unpopular view, courage is to go to the polls, courage is to laugh at stupidity, courage is not to fall into apathy. The courage is to admit if you are scared.

HOUSE OF COURAGE

What is Courage?

Žanis Lipke Memorial launches: What is Courage?

Highlighting significant dates such as the commemoration of the Rumbula Massacre on the 30th November, the birthday of Žanis Lipke on 1 February, the commemoration of Europe’s “Righteous Among the Nations” on 6 March and the birthday of Žanis and Johanna Lipke’s youngest son Zigfrid (Ziga ) on 29 June 2024, the garden of the future education centre House of Courage will feature murals by the artist Daniil Vyatkin, and lectures and talks by experts will take place at the museum, covering topics such as acting in a civically responsible way in emergencies and everyday life. All this to determine an answer to the question what courage is.

Sarah's two sons. Mural in the garden of the House of Courage 29 November 2023 – 29 January 2024

For Misha Ihlov, his mother Sarah gave life twice. The first time was at his birth on 12 June 1939. The second time was on 28 April 1942, when she managed to hide her almost three-year-old son in a sack and carry him out of the Daugavpils ghetto. Sarah’s husband Hirsch was killed in the summer of 1941, during the first days of Nazi occupation. Sarah heard rumours that the other inhabitants of the Daugavpils ghetto would also be killed, so she decided to take the risk and take her son to her workplace in the Vienības nams. The Nazis had assigned the prisoner to wash the German soldiers’ laundry. The brave mother managed to hand the child over to her pre-war acquaintance Tekla Balode.

 

Tekla Balode lived a life separated from others. Even though she was disabled and had been limping since her childhood, the woman managed to dig a hiding place underneath the chicken coop for the little Jewish boy. During the day, the boy hid underground, and was only allowed to crawl out and breathe fresh air at night. The boy had to hide this way until 27 July 1944, when the Red Army entered Daugavpils and drove out the Nazis. The boy’s relative, his aunt Sonia Slova, later recalled: The child was so frightened that even after the liberation he was afraid of daylight and did not dare to go out into the street.

 

After her husband was killed in the summer of 1941, Sarah met Akiva (Abram) Tsveigoren in the ghetto, whose wife had also been killed by the Nazis. The two fell in love and had a baby. It is believed that Sarah gave birth to her youngest child, Grisha, in the summer of 1942. Sarah’s pre-war acquaintance Rachel Jefuna met the young mother in the summer of 1944 and later recalled: At the beginning of August 1944, I met the tormented Sarah, who had just been liberated from the ghetto. She was holding a baby wrapped in some rags. In 1945, Sarah, while being seriously ill, gave her second child to the Kalkun orphanage. The institution’s records show that the child was very nervous, but understood everything perfectly, could say a few words and, judging by the number of teeth, was about two and a half years old.

 

First, Misha was taken in by Sarah’s distant relatives, Haja and Falk Kagan. Later, his aunt Sonia Sheina Slova came for the boy, as she and her husband, a Polish Jew, were planning to leave Soviet Latvia for Poland and then France. In Marseille, without informing his relatives, Misha was sent to an orphanage in Israel with other orphans by the ‘Hagan’ organisation. The Slova family ended up in Australia. It was not until 1956 that Misha met his aunt´s family again, and only then he learned about the details of his mother’s and Tekla Balode’s exploits. In 1961, Misha also moved to live with relatives in Australia.

 

Grisha, too, found himself in a loving family after the war. In 1946, he was visited by his father Abram Tsveigoren´s brother Mozus and his wife Riva. The couple already had two sons, Akiva and Matvejs, but they decided to adopt Grisha as well. To avoid people around them realising that the boy had been adopted, it was decided to record that he was born in 1944. It was only when he was an adult that Grisha learned his origin story, because his adoptive mother loved him as her own biological son. Riva Tsveigoren is reported to have said: How could I tell Grisha that he was not my son? I carried him in my arms for two years when he was very ill. He always had the best. Am I not his mother?

The two brothers met for the first time in their lives in 1988 in Moscow. They needed an interpreter to talk.

Fourth floor, single exit. Mural in the garden of the House of Courage 1 February 2023 - 5 March 2024

Even before the Second World War, architect Artūrs Krūmiņs’ wife, Erna, took Italian language courses in preparation for a trip to Italy. Later, she told her younger daughter that she had met a very nice and unusually intelligent woman, Vilma Press. The charming woman’s husband was a doctor at the hospital, Jēkabs Oskars Press, who had visited the Krumins’ home on more than one occasion to treat Artūrs Krūmiņs or the housekeeper Karlīne Pilsrose. Seeing Jews being humiliated, persecuted and imprisoned on the streets, the Krūmiņs family decided to help the Press family, who was at least somewhat well-known. Ilga Krūmiņs later recalled: ‘I was afraid to live… I was afraid of my complete passivity. It was impossible! I can’t do it! Watch and not try to help anyone. I can’t!’ Erna Krūmiņs was the first to decide that they had to try to save Press. Artūrs Krumins realised how risky it was to hide Jews in his Marija Street flat, so he reminded his wife and daughters that they lived on the fourth floor and that the apartment had only one front door. In case of danger, neither the Krumins nor the Press would be able to escape. However, neither of them could just stand back and do nothing, they had to help. A joint decision was taken to save the Press. The decision of the Krūminis was shared by the housekeeper, Karlīne Pilsrose, who was important in covering everything up. Erna Krūmiņs and her eldest daughter, Velta Mēteri, who did not live at 11 Marijas Street but still wanted to help the Press family, managed to contact Jēkabs Oskars Press, who was at that time a prisoner in the Riga ghetto. He and his son Bernhard Oskars were driven to the city every day for forced labour, which allowed them to escape. Unfortunately, the nice and intelligent Vilma Press had already been killed in the Rumbula forest. After escaping from the column of workers, the Press arrived at 11 – 3 Marijas Street. They were given a bedroom on the far side of the apartment so that they could hide in case of an emergency. Ilga made herself a new bed in her father’s study. For urgent situations, a camouflaged hiding place was provided. A 40 cm thick wall separated Ilga’s and her parents’ bedrooms, which were fitted with double doors. In the alcove between the rooms, there was enough space for two chairs. If the Nazis searched the apartment, the Press could hide there and lock the first door. In front of the second door was a heavy wardrobe. Those who did not know the thickness of the wall and did not suspect the alcove would have believed that the rooms were connected by a single door, which made no sense to unlock because there was a wardrobe on the other side.

The Press family lived with the Krumins for almost 3 years without being able to leave the apartment or go near the window. Ilga Krūmiņs recalled: ‘Dr Press read a lot, drew a lot. Hans (Bernhard Oskar was called Hans by his father, and Anse by the Krūmins family) sat with his back facing the radio. He listened to the BBC and all other radio stations. In between, we both read together, wrote essays, drew, learned foreign languages, did riddles, etc. And flower gardening! I loved flowers! Dad had ordered me a special flower rack on wheels. It was full of houseplants. I also taught Anse how to take care of flowers.”

The hardest part was to arrange food. The family used their food cards to divide the meager food supplies so that there would be enough for everyone. Elza Mileiko, a friend of the family, helped with the delivery of food from the countryside. With her help, the Press and the Krumins family exchanged valuables for food.

On 13 October 1944, Soviet troops entered Riga – the Press family was free. Ilga Krūmiņs recalled in her old age: ‘Their belongings were stolen. They had to wear what they could get. The morning was very cold. I remember Anse put on my knitted suit jacket. And then they went down the ladder they had come up three years ago… Fourth floor… only one exit… How good, how good that it all worked out!’

Nobody knew about us. Mural in the garden of the House of Courage 6 March 2024 - 28 June 2024

On October 20, 1943, Brona Majeva managed to leave the Daugavpils ghetto unnoticed and take refuge with the kind gardener Pjotr Afansajev and his wife Lucija. To her surprise, in a hiding place set up under the kitchen floor, she met two more persecuted Jewish women – the dentist Mira Musina from Daugavpils and Mihla Segal from Krāslava.

From the memoirs of Brona Majeva: “For eight months, Pjotr took care of us like little children. He was a real man. He risked not only his own life, but the lives of his family to save us. There was no question of monetary reward – he saved us selflessly and from the bottom of his heart.”

When the front approached Daugavpils, Pjotr Afansajev took the refugees to his relatives in the village of Skaista, near Krāslava, where his parents, Filip and Anastasija Afansajev, and his brother Fadej, his wife Jevdokija (also called Keja) and his son lived. Sister Minadora Mikulova also helped the brothers in the rescue, despite risking her own safety and that of her family. At that time, the Jewish women brought from Daugavpils did not yet realize that the family of Fadej Afansajev was already hiding three other refugees – Basja (also called Tanja) Levštein, Bruņa Zelikmanis and her 18-year-old daughter Rachel (Roza).

From the memoirs of Rachel Zelikmanis: “Tanja Levštein was already living in the house of Fadej and Jevdokija (affectionately known as Keja). My mother and I lived in the attic, hiding in the wall. The Afansajev family fed us, took us to the sauna. After the bath we stayed overnight at home. Nobody knew about us – not the neighbours, not Tanja. We didn’t know that Tanja was hiding in the house. We had nothing, not even spare underwear. We couldn’t have paid them anything for hiding us. They just took pity on us.”

In May, the two Zelikmanis hid in a hole near the chicken coop. Only later did the women learn that Pjotr had brought Mira, Mihla and Brona, who had been given their old hiding place in the attic. All six women survived.