VENTSPILS (Ger. Windau; Rus. Vindava), city in N.W. Latvia. Under czarist rule Ventspils was a town in the province of *Courland. Jewish settlement was authorized in 1795 after Courland was annexed to Russia. Some Jews from Lithuania and the German states began to settle in the town, but the majority came from neighboring Pilten. In 1835 the community numbered 513, in 1864 it grew to 920, and by 1897 the number had increased to 1,313 (18.5% of the total population). The community was a wealthy one, and during the period of Latvian independence a network of Jewish schools was established in the town. In 1925 the Jewish population amounted to 1,276 (7.8% of the total). Under German occupation a small part of the community succeeded in escaping to the interior of the Soviet Union: the remainder were executed by the Germans and their Latvian collaborators in 1941.
S. Azaz, in: Yahadut Latvia (1953), 301–4.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.