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KRASLAVA (Rus. Kreslavka ), town in Latgale district, Latvia. The Jewish community was established in 1764 by families from Vilna, and numbered 733 in 1772 when the Russians annexed the town. It grew rapidly from 1,483 persons in 1847 to 4,051 Jews living in Kraslava (51% of the total population) in 1897. Kraslava became noted in the history of the Jewish labor movement in Russia through the events connected with the bristle factories there, whose owners and most of the workers were Jews, 200 in the factory and 300 in the home bristlemaking industry. As a result of the harsh working conditions and low wages, the workers organized the *Bund, and also *Po'alei Zion and the *Independent Jewish Workers' Party; there were a number of strikes which had widespread publicity and influence. It earned them better conditions in the 1890s, mainly an eight-hour working day. After the Kishinev pogrom (1903) the Bund and Po'alei Zion formed a defense group of 250 members. During World War i, in 1915, the Jews were expelled from the town by the Russian army, only some of them returning after the war. Because of the end of trade with the hinterland in Russia and Poland, the bristle industry did not reopen. The Jews in Kraslava numbered 1,446 (40.5%) in 1920, 1,550 (36.19%) in 1930, and 1,444 (33.77%) in 1935. Until 1934 Jews served as the town's mayors. The Jewish economy improved in the 1930s, and 183 trade establishments out of 372 belonged to Jews. In 1927, 230 pupils attended the Jewish municipal school. The Jews in Kraslava were mainly occupied in commerce and crafts and trade in agricultural products of the area; they also figured considerably in the professions there. Naum *Aronson, the sculptor, and Abel *Pann, the painter, were born in Kraslava.

Holocaust Period

During World War ii, shortly after the outbreak of war between Germany and Soviet Russia, 200 Jews left with the Soviets. Kraslava was occupied by the German army in late June 1941. During the first half of July dozens of Jews were killed by the Latvians. On July 29, 1941, they were brought to the Daugavpils (Dvinsk) ghetto, and were shortly thereafter murdered in the Pogulianka forest with Jews from other towns. Some 30 families were left in Kraslava and were executed in September 1941. After the war 40 Jewish families lived there, but they left for Riga in the 1950s and for Israel in the 1970s.


M. Bobé, in: He-Avar, 17 (1970), 247–51; M. Kaufmann, Die Vernichtung der Juden Lettlands (1947), 286–94; J. Gar, in: Algemeyne Entsiklopedie, 6 (1963), 376–90. add. bibliography: Jewish Life, s.v.

[Joseph Gar /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]