GIRKALNIS: Kovno Print

Alternate names: Girkalnis [Lith], Girtegole [Yid], Girtakol' [Rus], Girtokoł [Pol], Girtigola, Girkalnio,גירטעגאָלע-Yiddish. 55°19' N, 23°13' E, 39 miles NW of Kaunas (Kovno), 5 miles SE of Raseiniai (Rasayn). 1900 Jewish cemetery: 530.Before WWII, 27 Jewish families lived in this small village in Rasein district,. [March 2009]

MASS GRAVE: Near Girkalnis, the village of Kurpiskes; 146; pic. # 228 US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad

From the first day of the war, the village was ungoverned. Lithuanian nationalists took charge with their first act to riot in the Beit Midrash, taking the Torahs outside and stamping on them. The murderers saw the rabbi and dragged him out to the street, pulled out his hair and his beard and tore the skin off his face with their hand leaving him bleeding. The next day, these white-bands assaulted more Jews. They gathered sickly men and five elderly women. One woman was joined by her two grown sons. Led to the outskirts of the village, all were shot. After a few days, these murderers confined the Jews (120 men, women and children) in three houses where they were held without food for an entire week. On August 21 (28 Av), now weak from torture, the Jews were dragged about half a kilometer from Korpishok village, forced to undress, and shot amid hard rain, lightening, and thunder. After the white-bands completed their murders, they sheltered from the rain in a nearby forest, leaving the pit with the bodies exposed. Yitzak Blacher, lightly injured and his wife still alive but severely injured found their three year-old daughter dead and their six year-old son dying. His wife told him to run with the son. He ran, carrying his dying son. The murderers did not see him. With only the shirt on his back, he roamed the forest until night. The boy died in his arms. He buried the child beneath a tree. In the morning, Blacher crawled to the blacksmith on the edge of the village, who took pity on him. He gave Blacher clothing, a little food, and asked him to disappear. Blacher roamed villages of the area until liberation when he bore witness to the end of the Jewish population in Girtegole. According to The Butchery in Lithuania (Tevach Hamoni b'Lita), the communal grave in Girtegole is marked with the following inscription: "The Place - the village of Korpishok, about 10 kilometres SE of Rasein close to Girtegole, the time August l941 the number sacrificed 600 -650." [March 2009]

UPDATE: I was there in June 2007, took photographs, and saw a mass murder site, but also the probable place of cemetery with no stones. Linda Morzillo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [July 2007]

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 March 2009 09:59