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ROKISKIS: Rokiškis district, Panevėžys County PDF Print E-mail

Alternate names: Rokiškis [Lith], Rokishki [Rus], Rakishok [Yid], Rakiszki [Pol], Rokišķi [Lat], Rokischken [Ger], Rakishik, Rakishki, Rakiski, Rekishok, Rokishki, Rokishok, Rokishuk, Russian: Рокишки. ראַקישאָק-Yiddish. 55°58' N, 25°35' E, 50 miles ENE of Panevėžys, 37 miles W of Daugavpils, Latvia, about 22 kilometers from the Latvian border. 1900 Jewish population: 2,067 (75%). 1923 Jewish population: 2,013. Yizkors: Yisker-bukh fun Rakishok un umgegnt (Johannesburg, 1952); Pinkas ha-kehilot; entsiklopediya shel ha-yishuvim le-min hivasdam ve-ad le-aher shoat milhemet ha-olam ha-sheniya: Lithuania (Jerusalem, 1996); Lite (vol. 1) (New York, 1951). ShtetLink. Before WWII, Rokiškis traded with nearby Dvinsk/Daugavpils/Dunaburg, Latvia connected by a rail line. During the 1920s, Lithuania's border with Latvia was closed so trade increased with towns to the west that were connected by rail lines, such as Panevezys/Ponevizh, Siauliai/Shavli, and Kaunas/Kovno. In the Lithuanian Republic, anti-Semitism became pronounced. A boycott was organized against Jewish merchants and other businesses. Many Jewish businesses went bankrupt in 1925 and between 1926 and 1930 many Jewish families immigrated to South Africa, the U.S., and Palestine.In 1939 3,500 Jews lived in Rokiškis (40%).. They were mostly Habad Hasidim. The town prospered although located in lowland with nearby swamps and TB frequent. Two hot springs were nearby. In the inter-war period, the muddy and ditch filled street was paved, sidewalks installed, and trees planted. Dozens of new streets led from the railway station three km from town. Business clustered around the large marketplace. A Lithuanian high school with eight grades, a Lithuanian grade school, a Lithuanian library, and a Jewish library without books, a movie theater, and one yavne [Mizrakhi Zionist school] existed.  The Russians took the town. Poles and Polish Jews immigrated to Rakishok welcomed warmly by the Rakishok Jews. photos and Rakishok links. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: Located originally a half-km from present-day Rakishok, the town belonged to the anti-Semitic Count Titushevna whose administrator had a child friendly with a little local Jewish boy, a tailor's only son. By legend, the boys had a fight, won by the Jewish boy. The Count ordered that when the son was to be married, the Count be informed or the father would be punished. Years later, the father reported time of his only son's wedding. As the bride and groom stood under the chuppah, the Count brought dry willow branches and set them afire before all of the town. The Jews were ordered from the town. Some settled where present day Rakishok exists, a half-kilometer from the tragedy. Purportedly, that site became the present Rakishok cemetery. photos [March 2009]

MASS GRAVES: On June 22, 1941, the Germans bombed Kovno. On Monday, June 23, 1941, a German airplane flew over Rakishok, but did not bomb. Another plane flew over at 5 p.m. Wounded Soviet soldiers were being brought from the Soviet-German border. Lithuanian nationalist partisans shot the Russian soldiers, hung anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic banners and Lithanian flags on posts.  Jews on the roads were killed by these Lithuanians. The Soviets lost control and evacuated on Wednesday, June 25, 1941 at four p.m. Almost half of the Jews of Rakishok fled, including 99% of the youth, in the direction of Abel, Subot, Dvinsk, and the Lithuanian-Soviet border where Lithuanian soldiers would not allow the fleeing Jews to cross the border. Some were killed. The Germans arrived, forced the Jews to do horrid manual labor such paving of the highway extended to the marketplace. They were beaten, tortured, and stabbed. Before the men were murdered on August 10 and the women on August 20, they were told that they were being sent to work in Smolensk. 5,800 Jews from Rakishok and nearby Abel, Kamai, Ponidel, Suvianishok, and Raduteh were shot at a place behind "Boyar" in five to seven mass graves. The Germans confiscated all property of the murdered Jews and put it in a stable and a synagogue and sold it for negligible prices. The bombs had not damaged any buildings. Only the railroad station and a few houses near the church were damaged. After liberation, all Jewish houses remained with peasants living in them. [March 2009]




Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2009 21:19
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