PUMPENAI: Kovno Print

Alternate names: Pumpėnai [Lith], Pumpian [Yid], Pompiany [Rus, Pol], Pumpenų, Pumpenay, Pompyany, Pampenai, פּומפּיאַן - Yiddish. Russian: Помпяны. 55°56' N, 24°21' E, 24 miles SW of Biržai (Birzh), 14 miles N of Panevėžys (Ponevezh), 9 miles SSW of Pasvalys (Posvol). Yizkor: Lite (vol. 1) (New York, 1951). 1900 Jewish population: 1,017. Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), XVI, p. 492: "Pompiany".' The village is in northern Lithuania on the road from Panevezys to Pasvalys. Jewish population: 1766: 583; 1847: 694; and 1897: 1007. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Jewish Community of "Pumpenai" was falsely accused of blood libel. The rabbi was burnt to death near the Church and saved the entire community. In the yard of the Synagogue, a stone memorial was erected in his memory. The "Pumpenai" Jews were engaged in trade, crafts, agriculture, and dairy production of yellow cheese. At the end of the 19th centur,y many Jews emigrated to Palestine, the Americas, and South Africa. During WWI, many Jews evacuated to the interior of Russia returned after the war to find their houses looted and burnt. Only a few settled again in Pumpenai. In 1921, 75 Jewish families lived there and in 1923, 372. The synagogue was still in use during the Republic of Lithuania when a Hebrew school and Zionist movements were prevalent. Prior to WWII about 60 Jewish families lived there. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: The cemetery is located in a large field between the main road and behind what locals say was the synagogue. There is no gate but a memorial plaque is affixed to a stone on the side of the cemetery facing the main road. Very few tombstones remain; those that do are close to or within a little birch grove towards the road. We recorded inscriptions from seven of the approximately 10-20 stones here, with dates from 1882-1908. Source: Dan Kirschner, 35 Gammons Road, Newton MA 02168. tel: 617-965-6839, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

UPDATE: On the opposite side of the former cemetery, away from the main road, is a very old house. It was originally used by the Jews to prepare the bodies for burial in the cemetery. Presently, a local Lithuanian family is living there. Source: Howard Margol, June 30, 2002. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [July 2002]

MASS GRAVES: At the time of the German arrival on June 27-28, 1941, about 60 Jewish families lived there. The organized the local nationalists and police. Jewish residents were rounded up for forced hard labor and robbed. On July 15, the Jews were forced into a small ghetto surrounded by barbed wire. They were left in the overcrowded ghetto without food, forced into hard labor, beaten, robbed, and terrified until August 26. With the Jews of Panevezys and other surrounding villages, most were transported to Pajouste Forest about 5 km from Panevezys to prepared pits and murdered. Their bodies, including many still alive, were covered with dirt in a mass grave of over 6000 victims. Some families were transported to Posvol and murdered with the Jews of Posvol and Zidikai about 5 km from Posvol in Zidikai Woods. The pharmacist and his extended were viciously murdered in the town itself. [March 2009]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2009 01:53