SALANTAI: Kretinga district, Klaipėda County Print
File:Salantai COA.gifAlso see Telsiai

Alternate names: Salantai [Lith], Salant [Yid], Salanty [Rus], Sałanty [Pol], Selent, Sałantaj, Skilándžiai, Salantų, Salantay, Salontā, Russian: Саланты.סאַלאַנט-Yiddish. 56°04' N, 21°34' E, 27 miles WNW of Telšiai (Telz), 18 miles NE of Kretinga. 1900 Jewish population: 1,106. ShtetLink. Jews started moving to Salantai in the 17th century. 1897 population census: 1,106 Jews. After WWI, the number of the Jews decreased as some emigrated to South Africa, America, and Palestine. On the eve of the Shoah, about 150 Jewish families lived in Salantai (about 500 persons), most engaged in trade and crafts. Market days were Tuesday and Friday. Salantai had an old synagogue, a beit midrash, Hebrew schools, a Jewish library (in 1923 with 1600 books), charitable organizations, and a fire-brigade. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: The cemetery is outside the town, sandwiched between farms, with access made difficult via a rutted dirt driveway that is clogged with farm equipment. Just inside the entrance, a memorial plaque indicates this is a Jewish cemetery. A large wood sculpture by Jacob Bunka (of Plunge) honors the memory of 405 Jews murdered here in the Holocaust. All but empty of tombstones, this walled cemetery is on a gently sloping plateau with steep sides toward its rear and lateral perimeters. The vastness of its area attests to the sizable Jewish community that once lived in Salant. At the front left of the cemetery are four rows of tombstones, evenly spaced, apparently placed here from stones recovered elsewhere in this cemetery. Some are legible, others completely weathered. Elsewhere, toward the rear of the cemetery, we discovered a few more markers, some with extensive and legible inscriptions, including vertical acrostics spelling out the deceased's name along the right margin. Of a total of about 20 stones, we recorded 15, dating from 1881-1923. 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

In Salant (Salantai), in the western section of Lithuania, I visited the cemetery. Some two dozen stones remain in a location that likely contained several hundred. Local people claimed that: 1) Russian soldiers removed stones for construction during the '70s and '80s; 2) There were many stones still standing in the 1960s; 3) Stones have sunk under the earth and were not stolen at all. Source: Rick Bercuvitz This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

MASS GRAVE: Forest of Sungardai, 10 km SE of Salakas; 88; pic. # 78-79. Forest of Krakyne, Deguciai couty (sic.) 190-191 348-35O US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad

MASS GRAVES:  Near the Jewish cemetery of Salantai; 112; pic. # 138-140. Near the village of Salynas, Zvainiai county; 115; pic. # 146. Forest of Zateikiai, 3 km from the village of Sateikiai; 139; pic. # 204-205 US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. The German Army occupied Salantai on June 23, 1941. Scattered Red Army units and communists retreated through Salantai towards Latvia when Salantai had no government on the evening of the first day. A "partisan" company organized on the morning of June 23 and grew to 20 men in a few days. The headquarters of the partisan company was in the former militia building with about 50 guns from Šateikiai white-bands. The partisans patrolled the town at night, guarded the bridge and important buildings, and searched neighboring villages for Red Army soldiers and communists in hiding. Hunting communists commenced in the first days of the war with partisan companies in Salantai and some neighboring villages. The squad in Grūšlauke Church village (about 20 riflemen) disarmed five Red Army soldiers in Grūšlauke. On June 25, Grūšlauke company joined Salantai company. During the first days of Nazi occupation, local partisans (white-bands) arrested 10-12 communists in Salantai Rural District. Four arrestees were shot by white-bands, while the others were taken to the detention house in Kretinga. Their further fate is unknown. At the beginning of July, a list of ten male Jews ages 12 to 60 was made. The Jews from Salantai were take by local white-bands to the town synagogue. In a few days, early July, two vehicles of German SS officers and Lithuanian white-bands arrived from Kretinga. The Germans selected about 40 Jewish men and took them with shovels to Žvainiai village. They were ordered to dig a trench there, near the Jewish cemetery. Shortly, an unknown German officer arrived from Kretinga. The Germans decided to shoot the Jews who dug the trench. Those Jews wearing better clothes were ordered to undress and stand on the edge of the trench. One group after another was executed, over 150 Jewish men in total. This massacre took place in the first half of July. In about a week after the shooting of men, an order came to shoot Jewish women. Salantai white-bands asked Šateikiai white-bands to help with the shooting planned in Šateikiai forest for mid-July (around the 20th). A road going through the forest had to be blocked and the massacre site surrounded by guards. Carts from villages were to transport the women to the massacre site. About 10-12 white-bands from Salantai company left for Šateikiai forest at midnight to dug a huge trench. The carts with their horses went to the synagogue. Over 60 Jewish women and children were taken out of the synagogue, loaded into carts, and taken to Šateikiai station. Each cart was loaded with 15-16 elderly Jewish women and 2-3 guards. At about 6 km to Šateikiai station, the column turned into Šateikiai forest. Shootings started at dawn. The women were told to undress before shooting, then jump into the trench and lie with their faces down. The executors standing on the edge of the trench shot prone women and children. Valuables belongings of the victims were taken by the shooters, while the rest was taken to the police. After completion of the massacre, the participants in the massacre were told not to tell anybody about it, otherwise they would be treated like Jews. Every white-band received 20 rubles and went home. Around mid-July 1941, the younger Jewish women and girls were taken from Salantai to Šalynas estate to do field work. At the end of August, the 35 women and girls were taken by white-bands to Šateikiai forest and shot. Only Basia Abelman escaped, hidden until the end of the Nazi occupation by Pranas Kasperaitis, a farmer from Imbare village. Before the shootings, the women were deprived of their money, gold jewelry, and other valuables. The seized Jewish belongings were transferred to the state bank. Members of the white-band squad were paid a monthly salary of 450 rubles from that seized money. A special commission later on sold to local residents. [March 2009]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 August 2009 18:34