PUNIA: Vilna Print

Alternate names: Punia [Lith], Puni [Rus], Poon [Yid], Punie [Pol], Punya, Punios, Russian: Пуни. פּון-Yiddish.  54°31' N, 24°06' E, 34 miles WSW of Trakai (Troki), 8 miles NNE of Alytus (Olita). Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), IX, pp. 300-301: "Punie" #1. In 1931 most of the Jewish section of Punsk was destroyed by a fire.  At the onset of WWII, the majority of the town was Jewish. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: I visited Punia in the Alytus district of Lithuania on July 31, 1997 with guide Regina Kopilevich. Kopilevich was under the impression that the Jews of Punia were buried in the nearby town of Butrimonys, but a local elderly man led us to a small Jewish cemetery in Punia itself. To reach the cemetery, turn left off the main Punia road just before reaching the main square. Along this dirt road at the bottom of the hill stands a large stone that reads: "Punia Jewish Cemetery" in Lithuanian and Yiddish. A small dirt path with a handrail made of sticks leads to the cemetery, which is badly overgrown by at least four-foot tall weeds. We uncovered about ten tombstones, most dating from the 1840s to the early 20th century. There are probably many more beneath the overgrowth. Most do not have last names. Locals informed us that during the Soviet period the manager of the local collective farm erected the marker on the road as well as the wooden handrail on the path. The cemetery is rarely visited. A passerby recalled an American general who visited several years ago. The property is apparently owned now by the municipality. I obtained the address of the mayor to inquire about hiring someone to cut away the overgrowth. Anyone interested in contributing to such an effort, please contact: Eric L. Goldstein, 12 Monroe Place #2, Brooklyn, NY 11201, (718) 625-1058, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [date?]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2009 02:08