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The Russian occupation brought midnight arrests and deportations.
The Nazis, who invaded the following June, brought mass slaughter and enslavement.
Raya’s father, Shmuel, was arrested along with the other Jewish men on his street in Liepaja on July 14.
He “kissed my mother and took his walking stick with him to the jail,” Raya wrote.
In Iraq, the subject of my research, Jewish prisoners used hunger strikes in the 1950s.
Since the mid-1940s, two illegal underground organizations had been growing in influence in Iraq among Jewish youth and students: the Zionist and the Communist.
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The Iraqi government brutally repressed both movements.Many Jews were imprisoned for political reasons, because of anti-Semitism, or because of their connections to radical or Zionist organizations (including this writer’s own great grandfather, who was imprisoned in Russia because he was a Zionist and escaped to mandatory Palestine in 1927).And even in the prisons of mandatory Palestine, communists and revisionists used hunger strikes as part of their political battles.HAMBURG, Germany — For years Raya Mazin’s slim memoir sat on my shelf unread, the sort of book familial duty prevents you from throwing out and emotional dread keeps you from reading. It began in 1919 in the Latvian port of Liepaja, also known as Libau, and ended in Israel nearly 96 years later. On Tuesday, I finally took the book down and read it in one sitting. Alexander Gauland, a member of the Bundestag and co-leader of Alternative for Germany (Af D), this country’s third-largest political party, had said in a weekend speech that “Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history.”I needed to learn anew just what that “speck” had meant for my extended family.Rachel Westerman — that was Raya’s birth name — was my maternal grandmother’s first cousin; their mothers, born Baskind, were sisters.