|KAPCIAMIESTIS: Alytus county, Lazdijai raj|
Alternate names: Kapčiamiestis [Lith], Kopcheve [Yid], Kopciowo [Pol], Koptsiovo [Rus], Kapčiamiesčio, Kapchyamiyestis, Kapchyamestis, Kapchamestis, Koptchevo, Koptsheve, Kapciovo, Koptsiva, קאָפּטשעווע - Yiddish. 54°00' N, 23°39' E, in SW Lithuania, 14 miles ESE of Sejny (Seinai), 17 miles SSE of Lazdijai (Łoździeje), 30 miles ESE of Suwałki (Suvalk). 1900 Jewish population: 528. Part of Poland until 1939. ShtetLink:
Yizkors: Yahadut Lita (vol. 3) (Tel Aviv, 1967); Pinkas ha-kehilot; entsiklopediya shel ha-yishuvim le-min hivasdam ve-ad le-aher shoat milhemet ha-olam ha-sheniya: Lithuania (Jerusalem, 1996); and Jews of Kopcheve (Bergenfield, NJ, 2006).
Close to the Neiman and large lakes,the town is on the road that crosses Lithuania in the SW corner of Lithuania about 5 miles from Poland and also from Belarus, in an area full of rivers, lakes and woods. The river Baltoji Ancia and nearby rivers Juodoji Ancia and Nieda flow through the town. The closest train station is in Braksenai.Jewish presence dates from the 18th century engaged in crafts, farming, and shops. In independent Lithuania, about fifty Jewish families had workshops and commerce while thre worked in agriculture. Almost all had vegetable gardens and fruit trees for personal consumption. Some businessmen had large commercial forestry operations. Two flourmills and two metal factories were owned by Jews. At the end of the 19th century, a large iron factory manufactured parts for reaping machines, railroad ties, nails and other iron products.Jews settled here in the late 18th century. 1890s Jewish population: 528 (40% of 1,314); 1923 population: 187 ( 22% of 835). In 1940, about 45 families, 187 people, remained. BOOK: Jews of Kopcheve. by Dorothy Leivers, History of the Jews of Kapciamiestis, Lithuania, [Avotaynu] [March 2009]
HOLOCAUST: The German army entered on June 22nd 1941, the first day of the war. Lawless Lithuanian nationalist gangs abused the Jews, stole their property, and humiliated them with forced labor. Few Jews managed to get to safety in Russia. On September 15, all heavily guarded Jews were transferred to Katkiske Ghetto, about 1.5 km from Lazdei, joining Jews from Rudamin, Vishey, and other small surrounding settlements. Placed in army barracks by family, the entire area was surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. Forced labor was outside the compound. Each person got 200 grams of unsalted bread and 300 grams of potatoes, but rations were cut later. Dysentery broke out. Starved and suffering, some snuck out to nearby villages to barte or beg for food. When some local farmers were allowed to use Jews as workers on their farms, returning them to the ghetto at night, those who eat at the farms gave up their share of the food so that others could eat. A Jewish police force organized in the ghetto had very little authority since every gentile could whatever he pleased to the Jews with impugnity such as a Lithuanian policeman who liked to the boots of Rudamin Jew so he shot him and took his boots. One day, two women return from work for the German commander on October 27th. They overheard the commandant of Mariampole scream at the commandant of Lazdei about the terrible shame that his Jews were still alive. The commandant explained that he needed the Jews to do necessary work and essential crafts. That night some people escaped and tried to hide with farmers or in the fields. Nothing happened. A few days later, everything returned to normal; they expected that the commandant would continue as before. By the end of October when most Jews throughout Lithuania had been murdered, those of Lazdei were still alive. On October 30, 1941, the ghetto was sealed and nobody taken out to work. They watched the murderous Lithuanians walking with spades. The chief of the police nonchalantly said that the pits were for them. Many attempted to run even though the place was well guarded. The following morning, escapees were returned to the camp, some wounded and some dead. The chief of police told them that running away was pointless sense since anywhere a German walked, Jew were wiped off the face of the earth. The Lithuanians sealed all windows and doors to the barracks with planks and metal bars, locking them up without water or food. Still, 180 people managed to escape during the next two nights. On November 3, the naked Jews were taken from the barracks to the pits about 300 meters away and about 300 meters west of the forest. About 1600 were shot to death including the sick dragged to the pits. Although the Germans ordered the aktion, they only observered the experienced Lithuanian murderers assisted by some from Mariampole. Many escapees were killed by the farmers or turned in. Thirty-five of them were taken to the mass graves and murdered. Of the entire 180 escapees, only six survived. In 1945, the Soviets recaptured Lithuania. After the war, a monument was erected on the mass graves. The plaque changed in the 1990s reads in Lithuanian and Yiddish: At this place the Nazi murderers with their local helpers on November 3, 1941 murdered 1535 Jews from Lazdey district, men, women, children. [March 2009]
JOWBR burial list: Jewish Cemetery [March 2009]
Cemetery information. photos. The unfenced cemetery 75% of remaining gravestones are toppled and/or broken. Inscriptions are in Hebrew and Yiddish. The oldest gravestone dates from 1843 and the most recent one from 1935. A burial register exists. Litter and vegetation overgrowth are a problem. No regular maintenance or care. [September 2010]
|Last Updated on Friday, 24 September 2010 17:25|