Rezekne (Latvian), Rositten (German), Резекне (Russian)
Rezekne (pronounced ray-SHEK-knee) is currently Latvia’s 7th largest city and is situated on the Eastern side of the Latgale province. Founded by the ancient Baltic Latgallian tribe, the term Rezekne was first used as a name for the area in 1285 when a stone castle was built here as a defensive building by the Livonian Order.
Because of its close proximity to the Russian border and Latgale’s Russian influence, Rezekne has always been fairly more russified than the places I’ve talked about up until this point in Kurzeme. Orthodox Catholic is the dominant religion in the area today, but in the past, Judaism was a contender for the top spot. Up until WWII, the population of Rezekne was around 13,000, with 2/3 being Jewish. After WWII, the population was 5,000, with nearly all Jewish people being executed or removed, and many more people having been deported to Siberian gulags.
After WWII, Rezekne was rebuilt with an industrial emphasis. This, coupled with Latvia’s occupation by the USSR, brought many ethnic Russians to the area for work. Even today, the population of Rezekne is about half Russian.