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05 March 2011

The Herzenberg's of Latvia

In The Knowles Collection- Jews of Europe Database, there are many records of the Herzenberg family of Courland, Latvia. The descendants of Joseph Herzenberg (1750-1815) are well documented. The majority of his descendants lived in Courland until the time they immigrated to places such as Israel and the United States. Those that stayed in Latvia were lost in the Holocaust.

In learning as much as possible about this family, I have found myself learning more about the Jewish community of Courland. The first Jews in Courland were in the early 1570's, however Jews didn't become permanent inhabitants until the 1700's. These first settlers were skilled workers who came from Germany. In 1795 Courland became part of Russia and in 1799 the first law was passed which gave the Jews legal status, even though they were being double taxed.

The Jewish population of Courland has always been quite large in numbers. In 1850, that population was over 50,000 and by the start of World War I, there were almost 70,000 Jews living in Courland. Sadly, this area was one of many that saw much suffering during the Holocaust. Many thousands of lives were lost. These records of the Herzenberg family cover family who lived during the entire history of Jews in Courland.

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