President Shimon Peres
has taken part in the ceremony to open a museum honoring a couple who saved some 50 Jews
from extermination in Nazi-occupied Latvia.
The museum in downtown Riga, Latvia's capital, is located next to the property once owned by Zanis Lipke, a port worker who together with his wife hid Jews in an underground pit measuring some 9 square meters (90 square feet).
The three-story museum of dark gray wood resembles an overturned ship and is designed to give visitors a claustrophobic sense of life in a tiny bunker.
Museum designed to give visitors a claustrophobic sense of life in a tiny bunker (Photo: AP)
Peres took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday with his Latvian counterpart, Andris Berzins, before joining him in a state dinner and commenting on the relationship and history between Latvia and Israeli Jews.
Peres noted how immigrants from Latvia have come to fill a number of influential positions, actively enriching and influencing Israel’s growth.
In the face of such incidents as the Rumbula Massacre, which left 25,000 dead, Latvia would see only about 200 Jews survive the war.
In 1966, Yad Vashem, an Israel-based
center for studying the Holocaust, recognized Zanis and Johana Lipke as rescuers of Jews.
Lipke died in 1987 and his wife in 1990.
Graham Sigurdson, Shalom Life
contributed to this report