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Bauska Castle
Flag of Bauska
Coat of arms of Bauska
Coat of arms
Bauska is located in Latvia
Location in Latvia
Coordinates: 56°24′N 24°11′E / 56.400°N 24.183°E / 56.400; 24.183Coordinates: 56°24′N 24°11′E / 56.400°N 24.183°E / 56.400; 24.183
Country  Latvia
District Bauska municipality
Town rights 1609
 • Mayor Valdis Veips
 • Total 6 km2 (2 sq mi)
 • Total 10,945
 • Density 1,824/km2 (4,720/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code LV-390(1-2)
Calling code +371 639
Number of city council members 11

Bauska (About this sound pronunciation ) is a town in Bauska municipality, in the Zemgale region of southern Latvia. The town is situated at the confluence of the rivers Mūsa and Mēmele where they form the Lielupe River. Bauska is located 66 km from the Latvian capital Riga and 20 km from the Lithuanian border.

The city is known in German as Bauske and in Lithuanian as Bauskė.


The territory around Bauska was originally inhabited by Semigallian tribes. In the mid-15th century, Bauska castle was built by Germans of the Livonian Order. The city started developing in its present day location around 1580, receiving its city rights in 1609.

After the Livonian War Bauska became part of the Duchy of Courland. The castle and city suffered heavily in the 17th and 18th centuries, under attack from Sweden in the Polish-Swedish War and the Russians in the Great Northern War. In 1711 an outbreak of plague ravaged Bauska, exterminating half of the population, and war returned once more in 1812, when Bauska became one of Napoleon's army's transit point en route to Moscow.

After the wars, Bauska enjoyed a period of stability, and grew as a trade center between Riga and Lithuania. Many inhabitants were merchants or worked in ceramic-making, but there was a large brewery as well. Bauska was primarily built of wooden houses: in 1823, only 6 of the 120 houses within the city were built of brick or stone. For this reason, devastating fires were not uncommon. Historically, all social affairs had been in the hands of the German gentry. In the 18th century, however, many Jews moved to the city, and by 1850 made up half the population, diluting the strong German influence.

Bauska town hall

The city was taken by the German Imperial Army in 1915, and roughly half the population fled. In 1916, the Germans installed the city's first electrical grid. After a short occupation by the Red Army, the Germans retook and held the city, until 1919, when the Latvian army drove the Bermontians out of Bauska for good.

From 1918 to 1940, the proportion of ethnic Latvians in the population grew strongly, making up 75% of the population, though the Jews and Germans still maintained a noticeable presence. In 1939, just before World War II, virtually the entire German population of Bauska repatriated to Germany, causing the city to lose one of its traditional ethnic populations. As part of the Holocaust in 1941, Bauska's other traditional minority, the Jews was destroyed as well. In 1944, the Red Army invaded. Six weeks of Soviet shelling and air raids destroyed one third of the city's buildings. Rubble remained in the streets until the 1950s.

During the Soviet period, the population surpassed 10,000, and both the Latvian and Russian populations strongly increased.


Residents of Bauska by ethnicity
Ethnicities in Bauska.

In December 2004, there were 10,178 inhabitants, 55% female and 45% male.

Jewish community[edit]

Bauska was home to a thriving Jewish community in the 19th century, many employed as scholars or in occupations such as baking and distilling. The town hosted several notable rabbis, including Abraham Isaac Kook, later chief rabbi of Israel, Mordechai Eliasberg, and Chaim Yitzchak Hacohen Bloch.[1]

In 1850, Jews made up 50% of Bauska's population. By 1920, the Jewish population had dwindled to about a sixth of the size it had been 40 years earlier.[2] In 1941, following the Nazi invasion, the remaining Jews of Bauska and environs were tortured and executed.[3]

An exhibition on the city's Jewish history was opened following a conference on Bauska's Jewish cultural heritage in the 1990s.[1] A group of Jews who were former inhabitants of Bauska proposed to establish a memorial on the site of the synagogue that was burnt down in July 1941 but have been consistently refused approval by the council.[4]

Defenders' Monument[edit]

On 14 September 2012, a monument to the inhabitants of city who organized the defense of Bauska against the Soviet assault in 1944 was unveiled in the city, with inscription "To Bauska's Defenders Against the Second Soviet Occupation". This event was represented by local Russian language mass media as glorification of Nazism in Latvia.[5]

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b L Dribins, A Guttmanis, and M Vestermanis, "Latvia's Jewish Community: History, Tragedy, Survival", Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, ca. 2001.,_TRAGEDY,_REVIVAL , accessed 16 October 2008.
  2. ^ JewishGen Locality Page - Bauska, , accessed 16 October 2008.
  3. ^ B Press [transl. L Mazarins], The Murder of the Jews in Latvia, pp. 47-48, Northwestern University, 2000.,M1 , accessed 16 October 2008.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Monument to Waffen SS Latvian Legion unveiled in Latvia". Voice of Russia. ITAR-TASS. September 17, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 

External links[edit]