Yakov Fain

This photograph shows my cousin, Yakov Fain. It was taken in Riga in 1940. His mother, Asne Fain, was my father's younger sister. Her husband, Herman Fain, was a co-proprietor of a timber-trading company so their family was quite wealthy. Their only son, Yakov Fain, was a vocal student at Riga Conservatory in the late 1930s. He had a wonderful tenor and a future as an opera singer was predicted for him. In 1940 the Soviet regime was established in Latvia, and the property of the Fain family was nationalized. Yakov was taken off his last year at the conservatory and was sent to serve in a military performing group. Although the group was stationed in Riga and Yakov lived at home, he was outraged that instead of opera arias in Italian he was forced to sing military and sailor's songs in Russian. In the summer of 1941, when the German army instantly occupied Latvia, the entire Fain family and Grandma Haya-Sore remained in Riga and died in the Holocaust. The families of my father's cousins were also killed. A total of 47 of my father's relatives died in the Holocaust in Latvia.