PALANGA: Klaipėda County Print

Alternate names: Palanga [Lith, Rus], Polangen [Yid, Ger], Połąga [Pol], Palonga, Polanga, Palangos, Russian: Паланга, Поланген. Yiddish: פּאַלאָנגע. 55°55' N, 21°03' E, in NW Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea, 7 miles west of Kretinga, 14 miles N of Klaipėda (Memel). Yizkor: Lite (vol. 1) (New York, 1951) Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), VIII, pp. 707-710: "Połąga". Jews first settled in Palanga in the 15th century. In 1639, the kings of Poland and Lithuania allowed the Jews to engage in crafts and to buy land. At the end of the 19th century, 1,100 Jews lived in Palanga. After WWI, they were about 950 Jews (40%). Located on the Baltic Sea coast, the sandy shore of over 10 km is backed by a pine forest and dunes. Palanga is a beach resort known for its thermal and mineral baths. Palanga was first mentioned in 1161 and functioned as Lithuania's main port from the 15th to 17th centuries. By the 19th century Palanga was a popular resort town that attracted the Lithuanian, Polish, and Jewish intelligentsia and upper classes. This seaside resort town in western Lithuania on the shore of the Baltic Sea is the busiest summer resort in Lithuania with 18 km long and up to 300 m wide beaches and beautiful sand dunes. Palanga city municipality includes Šventoji, Nemirseta, Būtingė and other settlements, which are considered as part of the city of Palanga. The Palanga Botanical Gardens, designed for Count Tiskevicius by the French architect Eduard Andre and Belgian gardener, Buyssen de Coulon, is Lithuania's most beautiful botanical garden. Tiskevicius Manor House now houses the Amber Museum. Amber, popularly known as Lithuanian gold, that still can be found on the shores of the Baltic Sea. The Amber Museum has a unique collection illustrating amber's 40-million year-old story.In 1939, about 150 Jewish families (fewer than 700 persons) lived in Palanga. The Jewish community had a big synagogue built in 1878, several prayer-houses, two cheders and a Yavne school, and Zionist and charitable organizations during the inter-war period. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: On the right side of the central pathway of the Botanical Park, on the Youth‘s hill, during the pagan era was the cemetery of the Balts´ tribes and later , until 1892, a Jewish cemetery there. On June 10, 2005, ten tombstones at the Jewish cemetery were broken. [March 2009]

MASS GRAVES: Near Birute hill at the seashore and Kunigkiskiai forest , 4 km from Palanga. The German Army occupied Palanga on the first day of WWII. The local Lithuanian police force was reinstated. The pre-war police chief was replaced by his deputy on July 4. The persecution of communists and Jews began in the first days of Nazi occupation. The prison and the synagogue in Palanga were overcrowded with arrested persons, including a lot of women and girls. Since the prison was overcrowded, some of the arrested (15-20 persons) were taken to Kretinga. Five residents of Palanga, who were taken to Kretinga, were executed and the others released. On June 26, the Security Police Chief in Kretinga ordered the arrest of all Jews from Palanga. German Gestapo officers, who came to Palanga, asked the local police to appoint Lithuanian policemen for arresting Jews. The Palange police chief agreed. Nearly all Jews of Palanga were arrested that day within two hours (June 26). The Jews were detained in the synagogue and guarded by policemen. On June 27, German Gestapo officers took 111 Jewish men to the sea and shot them in the dunes near Birute hill. After the massacre, a Jewish pediatrician remained alive. Gestapo officers began looking him. He was found at the Wehrmacht medical station bandaging wounded German soldiers. After some argument with the Wehrmacht Gestapo health officer, they took the Jewish doctor out and shot him. After the execution, Jewish women and children were confined in a special camp in (Valtariškes?) village guarded by Lithuanian auxiliary policemen until the liquidation of the camp on October 12). The police and security chiefs visited Valtariškes before the liquidation of the camp. The Jewish women were brought to the square of the camp and told that the Jewish women would be transferred to a ghetto near Darbenai and to give their money and valuables away. The collected valuables of the Jewish women were handed over to the burgomaster of Palanga. The forest near Kunigiškiai village (about 4 km from Palanga) was chosen as the place for shootings, the trenches excavated for the construction of military fortifications. In about 7-10 days, on the eve of killings, P. they decided to shoot the Jewish women with. Policemen from Palanga volunteered to shoot the Jewish women. At 10 PM, 20 policemen arrived, some to convoy the women with children to the massacre site and others to surround the place during the shootings. The women with children were taken from the camp to the forest in two buses. About 15-30 persons were placed in a bus for the ten trips made. Killings the 200-300 Jewish women started after midnight and ended at dawn. The shooting was carried out with the lights of buses on. Before the women in groups were taken to the trenches near Kunigiškiai village in the glade of the forest about 800-900 m from Palanga road, they were stripped to their underwear. Kretinga squads were mainly involved in those shootings not seven policemen from Palanga except for the last women. After the massacre, the murderers loaded two vehicles with the belongings of the victims and left for Kretinga. Policemen from Palanga covred the bodies with dirt and returned home. A memorial is located in the newer, SE half of Palanga Botanical Park near a path that follows the dunes in the direction of Klaipeda. In Hebrew and Lithuanian on a large stone of pink granite: "Here in the dunes of the southern part of this forest Nazi executioners and their local helpers brutally murdered 105 Jews in 1941. May this be a holy memorial to the innocent victims." This memorial was erected around 1989 at the sight of mass executions. [March 2009]

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 September 2010 23:49