Žanis Lipke Memorial and Museum
There are firewood sheds which are just firewood sheds. However, sometimes firewood sheds contain secrets, including this one which was owned by Žanis Lipke (1900-1987). Already at the outset of WWII this courageous man hid Jews in temporary hideouts throughout Riga, but when this was becoming too dangerous, he began to construct a hidden hideout under the firewood shed next to his house.
It is said that Lipke, together with his wife Johanna and friends, rescued the lives of approximately 55 Jews. Honoring Lipke’s courageous deeds, a memorial has been built next to his home, which is called the “best hidden museum in Riga”.
The ascetic, windowless building of dark grey wood resembles an overturned boat resting ashore – a symbol for the woodshed underneath which, in a bunker, people were hidden. “The inside of the shed is a labyrinth through which one searches for the concealed pit. The visitor is emotionally guided along the perimeter of the shed, then he climbs to the attic and comes to the hatch through which the bunker at the bottom of the cellar can be seen. The bunker is 3x3 m, has wooden bunks and matches the historical bunker. The space in the attic is the main exhibition hall of the museum with a visually open roof through which sunrays penetrate at dusk from the coveted outside world – from freedom” the memorial’s architect Zaiga Gaile explains.
The memorial also hosts lectures from time to time, as well as special exhibitions.