AUKSTADVARIS: Vilnius County, Trakai district Print

NOTE: Partially conflicting information has been donated. Both versions are listed below. If anyone can clarify the facts of the town and the four mass graves, please contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Aukstadvaris Jewish Cemetery  [December 2011]

#1

Alternate names: Aukštadvaris [Lith], Visoki-Dvor, דוואָר וויסאָקי

[Yid], Wysoki Dwór [Pol], Vysokiĭ Dvor [Rus], Visoki Dvor, Wysaki Dwor, Aukštdvarys, Aukštdvaris, Aukstadvario, Aukshtadvaris, Aukšdvaris, Высокий Двор. 54°35' N, 24°32' E, 16 miles WSW of Trakai (Troki). 1900 Jewish population: fewer than 200. Town image. A mound stands on the left bank of the river Verkne, a main water route. The first homesteads were built in the 5th century. On March 7, 1452, Aukstadvaris is noted in the book "Lithuanian metrics" when Aukstadvaris estate belonged to the Great Duke of Lithuania. Various owners held the place until 1518 when the church was given the tithe of the estate, "4 threescore of miles" from the inns of the village, 2 lakes and 4 sites for building the rectory and the school. At the end of 17th century, Cossacks laid waste to Trakai, but the small town of Aukstadvaris managed to recover as seen the market held again. The war with Sweden in the 18th century ended with plague that left only two survivors in Aukstadvaris. By 1738 the chapel was renovate, a new building of cloister was built, and Polonization in Aukstadvaris began. 1790 Great Duchy of Lithuania census shows 2,500 people of whom 100 were Jews). In 1795, when the common state of Poland and Lithuania collapsed, the biggest part of Lithuania went to the Russia Empire. An 1830 rebellion on the western border of the Empire was put down. Soon after, victimization of Lithuanians and Poles began. Vilnius University was closed . In Aukstadvaris, Dominican Cloister and school were liquidated. In the beginning of 19th century, Aukstadvaris (with surroundings and the estate) was bought by a brother of the rector of Vilnius University, Antanas Milevskis, a lawyer. Unsuccessful rebellion against Russia again in the mid-19th century resulted in Czarist regulation against Lithuanian papers in the Latin alphabet that lasted until 1904. Secret schools cropped up such as the one in Aukstadvaris (also several secret Polish schools in the town). In 1864, a Russian public school was established. 1897 Jewish population census: 482 (33.6 % of total population).

Around 1900, a pharmacy existed. The trout fishery was established. Just before World War I, a school opened in the town (taught in Russian). The market was five times per year. Some Jews had private shops. The wine shop belonged to the state as did the post-telegraph office. A big fire in WWI destroyed part of Aukstadvaris. In 1915, the school closed, billeting soldiers; and the church was turned into the grain store. In 1918, Lithuanian independence was declared. Aukstadvaris became a municipality with a post office, mill, cooperative, some shops, several workshops of craftsmen, an elementary school, and in 1923 an agricultural school for the girls. Various religion groups lived in peace. 1930 population: total 7,500 people included 5,000 Lithuanians, 2,300 Jews, 150 Poles, 30 Russians and 20 Germans. Lithuanians had 39 shops and the Jews owned 139 shops plus 10 butcher's shops, 2 restaurants, 6 hotels, 2 mikvahs, a slaughterhouse, 2 cinemas, 2 Jewish Volksbank, a credit union, mills and sawmills, and blacksmith.

8,030 Jews (4.70 % of the population in the county) lived in Alytus area on 1 January 1941.[Source: N. Schoenburg, S. Schoenburg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, Northvale, New Jersey, London, 1996, p. 55] In 1939, the school, church, and other intellectuals worked to eliminate the Polish language although Polish remained. In 1940, Lithuania was occupied by the USSR. The estate was divided and given to landless people. The estate owner, V. Mangirdas, was exiled with his whole family. When World War II began, Nazis took Aukstadvaris on June 22, the first day of the war. On July 12, 1941, Alytus County Governor Stepas Maliauskas and Alytus Defence Chief (Commander) Maj. Gen. of Staff Juozas Ivašauskas issued an order restricting lives of the Jews. The Nazis shot all the Jewish citizens and buried them in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery in the outskirts of Aukstadvaris. Another big fire destroyed about 65% of the town was destroyed. In 1944, Soviet troops liberated the town. The estate of Aukstadvaris became a collective farm. In 1955, a TB hospital was begun. Fish culture re-established. In 1959, a small dam was built on the river Verkne for a small hydroelectric power station still used. The life in Aukstadvaris changed a little after ndependence of Lithuania for the second time. New private shops, cafes, small businesses opened. The estate was returned to the grandchildren of the last owner. The monastery was restored. The school for the girls was opened again. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: Before WWII, gravestones dated from the 1500s. [March 2009]

MASS GRAVE: Forest of Varnikių , 3 km from Trakai, on the bank of the lake; 176; pic. # 311-312 US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. In mid-August 1941, the Jews of Alytus district were transferred to Alytus prison. Some hid in the forest, but about 1,000 Jewish men and women from Alytus rural districts were kept in the yard of Alytus prison. The Jews were herded into the yard of the Security Police and registered by name, then moved to the former barracks of the 2nd Lancer Regiment, and then to the massacre site in the forest. The first mass shooting on August 13, 1941 killed 617 Jewish men and 100 Jewish women. Soviet prisoners of war buried them in a mass grave. On August 31, 1941, another 233 Jews were killed. A few days later, approximately 50 Jewish men including an elderly rabbi were shot by four German non-commissioned officers and local "partisans" in the forest close to the Kaniūkai Bridge over the Nemunas River. The biggest massacre took place on September 9, 1941 when the Jews, guarded by local policemen and white-bands, were driven to the place of killing. Before shooting, their valuables were taken (jewelry and cash). The execution lasted a few hours.1279 Jews, including 287 men, 640 women and 352 children, were murdered. [March 2009]

#2

Jews lived in Aukštadvaris in the mid-16th century. Before WWI, 70 Jewish families resided in the town, but during the war, the retreated to Vilnius and returned at the end of the war. Some Jews emigrated to the USA, Mexico and Palestine in the inter-war period. During Independent Lithuania governance, 65 Jews families (272 persons) lived in Aukštadvaris as seventeen shopkeepers, carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, and vegetable gardeners. Markets took place every Wednesday. Six times a year were fairs (jomarkai). The majority of Jews in the town had their own houses along the central street and had a synagogue, Yiddish and Hebrew schools, a library, a drama club, an orchestra, and a 30-member Macabee sports club. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: Abelis Abramavičius and his son escaped arrests, but in February 1942 were betrayed by someone. Policemen arrested the Abramavičius men and took them to the Jewish cemetery to shoot. On the way to the cemetery, the condemned started running. The father ran to the forest, but the son was caught and taken to the trench. Seeing this, the father stepped out of the nearby forest and surrender by saying: "If you kill my son, kill me too." The police shot them both. Today, only the old Jewish cemetery remains of the Jewish community of Aukštadvaris. [March 2009]

MASS GRAVES: The German Army occupied Aukštadvaris on June 24, 1941. Military actions burnt a part of buildings in the town including the wooden synagogue. During the first weeks of occupation, while arresting communists, several Jews also were arrested. 14 men, including Elis Balzamavičius, Kaplanas and Leiba (Jews from Aukštadvaris) were shot at the end of June in Rūdiškes forest for communist activities. At the end of July, Jewish councils had to be set up by the order of the governor of Trakai District,. Jewish ghettos were established in all rural districts. The Jewish community in Aukštadvaris elected its eleven member council: Abelis Abramavičius (manager), Jokūbas Šapiršleinas (deputy). No Jewish ghetto was established in Aukštadvaris. Until the killings, the Jews lived in their houses, but were required to wear a yellow Mogen David and later yellow squares with the letter "J". Arrests of the Jews of Aukštadvaris began on September 21. They were kept in the  Board of the Rural District premises, and then taken by policemen and white-bands to Trakai Ghetto. The Jews from Aukštadvaris were shot together with the other Jews in Trakai Ghetto on September 30. Some Jews escaped arrests and hid. Michel Farber hid at Mamertas Sinkevičius' with his daughter Judita. Chaja [?] hid with the family of Jokūbas Tamaševičius. After the war, she gave her house as a present to the family that saved her. They lived to see Nazi occupation end and around 1960 immigrated to Israel. [March 2009]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 14:35