PAKRUOJIS: Print

Pakruojis, Pakruoyus, Pakruojus, Pakruojo, Pakruois. 55°58' N 23°52' E , 105.3 miles NNW of Vilnius. 35 km from the regional capital, Siauliai, the village was built on land belonging to Baron Ropp, who was cordial to Jews. When he died in 1894, all Jews of the town attended his funeral. Before WWI, about 300 Jewish families (1,400 people) lived there. In 1921, 100 families (406 people) increased in 1939 to 120 families (454 people). Involved in small-scale trade and crafts, they lived in poverty. The youth emigrated mainly to South Africa, Mexico, and Uruguay, and a few to Palestine. In the inter-war period, the Jewish Peoples' Bank with 107 members supported the impoverished Jewish residents. On the eve of the Holocaust, most Jews had left; mostly, the elderly remained. The Germans entered the town on June 28, 1941. Lithuanian nationalists (white-bands) immediately plundered and destroyed Jewish homes, ruthlessly abusing the Jews physically. On July 10, the male Jews were put to death in the forest behind the town. The local physician was not killed with the men; he was made to stay and work as a doctor, but in April 1942 died with about 20 Jews caught hiding in surrounding villages. They forced the women and children into a ghetto under guard for a number of weeks, then brought them outside  town where pits had been dug and murdered them all. A number of Jews survived in Siauliai Ghetto where they were brought four days before the murder of the male Jews. According to The Popular Massacres in Lithuania, Part II,  Place - Morkakalnis Wood 3 km SE of Pokroujis. Date - summer of 1941. Number who perished - 300. Situated on the Kruoja River, 43 manor buildings mentioned in 1531 survive. A rare, surviving wooden synagogue, the largest wooden synagogue that survives in Lithuania, is in deteriorating condition because on May 3, 2009 the synagogue suffered severe damage in a possible arson fire. [August 2009]

ONLINE VIDEO: Jurbarkas-Kaunas-Sauliai (Shavel)-Pokrojis-Birzai (226KB)  - cemeteries and synagogues of Jurbarkas, Kaunas, and Pokrojis. Watch and listen to interviews with leaders of  the Jewish communities in  Kovno and Birzh. See views of the streets and meetings with other local Jewish people. [March 2009]

OLD CEMETERY: Cemetery was apparently used until the early 1800s. This cemetery was in old Pakruojis on the town-side bank of the river Krouja. The cemetery no longer exists and the site has been converted into a memorial cemetery to Russian soldiers. Today, the area of this cemetery is about 20-meters square. A plaque in Yiddish beside the cemetery indicates that this was the site of a Jewish cemetery. Source: Yael Driver at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [April 2001]

NEW CEMETERY: Located about one mile NW of old Pakruojis across the river from the old town. The total site is over 100-meters long and about 40-meters wide. The natural boundaries are open fields on three sides and the road from Pakruojis on the fourth. The whole area is covered with trees and undergrowth with about one quarter fenced off. The undergrowth in this fenced area was cleared when a communal memorial for some five hundred Jews murdered in 1941 was inaugurated a few years ago. The remaining area is less well cleared. The base of the communal memorial was built out of fragments of tombstones. Hebrew inscriptions are legible on some of these fragments. Altogether [fenced and unfenced] about fifty stones can be seen, about thirty of which are in the fenced area. In the unfenced area are probably more stones that cannot be seen, probably buried or covered with growth. I have read some 28 stones in Pakruojis' newer cemetery, most in the fenced area and a few outside the fence and recorded the names in an Excel file donated to JOWBR. Please note that none of the stones had surnames. However, subsequently, I checked some of the details/dates against the death records in the Vilnius archives, from which I was able to establish corresponding surnames. This technique to establish surnames can be used by any researcher with a good command of Hebrew. It is not clear whether anyone cares for the cemetery.All in all, I have a lot of material on Pakruojis and would be happy to try to help others with interest in this place. Source: Yael Driver at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [April 2001]

UPDATE: I visited site (briefly) on May 15, 1996 and took a couple of photographs. Source: Bruce Kahn This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Mr. Feigmanis reports that the cemetery is completely destroyed. Aleksandrs Feigmanis, Kahovkas 2-12 LV-1021, Riga.

HOLOCAUST: At the beginning of July, all the Zagare Jews were relocated to one neighbour­hood in Zagare that was declared a ghetto and cordoned off by an unguarded barbed wire fence. Surviving Jews were brought to Zagare from Kursenai, Papile, Tryskiai, Joniskis, Zeimelis, Kriukai, Radviliskis, Saukenai, Kelme, Tirksliai, Krakes, Joniskelis, Linkuva, Pakruojis, Laukuvas, Lygumai and other places. A total of seven thousand Jews were gathered in the ghetto during this period. [March 2009]

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2009 17:43