VANDZIOGALA: Kaunas Print

Alternate names: Vandžiogala [Lith], Vendzigole [Yid], Vendziagola [Rus], Wendziagoła [Pol], Vendziogala, Vendzhigola, Russian: Вендзягола. ווענדזיגאָלע-Yiddish.  55°07' N, 23°58' E, 15 miles N of Kaunas (Kovno), 12 miles S of Kedainiai (Keidan), on the river Urka, formerly in Vilna guberniya.

Yizkors: Yahadut Lita (vol. 3) (Tel Aviv, 1967); Yahadut Lita (vol. 4) (Tel Aviv, 1984); Pinkas ha-kehilot; entsiklopediya shel ha-yishuvim le-min hivasdam ve-ad le-aher shoat milhemet ha-olam ha-sheniya: Lithuania (Jerusalem, 1996); Yidishe Shtet, shtethlekh un dorfishe yishuvim in Lite: biz 1918: historish-biografishe skitses (New York, 1991).

Jews first settled in the mid-17th century as artisans and tradesmen with Wednesday markets and four annuals fair and those in the villages of the area as farmers. The town had a school and two synagogues. 1900 Jewish population: 374. Expelled from the area during WWI because the Russians feared the Jews supported Germany, most went to Vilna and returned following the war or immigrated elsewhere. In the first years following the end of WWI, the Jews were a majority in the town and also began a few small factories. 1923 Jewish population: 335 and about 300 in 1939. The Jewish Folksbank had 50 members in 1920 and 82 in 1927. Some Jews tried to escape into Russia through Latvia when WWII broke out. Some were killed on the road by local Lithuanian nationalists, while most were forced back by the German Army.

CEMETERY: I transcribed all tombstones. Vandziogala's Jewish cemetery contained approximately 100 legible tombstones and another 10-12 illegible or fallen flat on their face. This cemetery is in quite a good condition as far as Lithuanian Jewish cemeteries go. I gathered this information with the help of my Lithuanian guides, including the wonderful This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , on three separate dates, July 22, 1996, May 31, 1997 and Sept. 3, 1997. On May 31, 1997, I took photographs of all the legible tombstones in the cemetery, which were processed to a floppy diskette. Source: JOWBR Indexer.

JOWBR burial list [March 2009]

MASS GRAVES: Borekas forest, 1 km from Vandžiogala township.  Forest of Borekas about 1 km N of Vandziogala; 98; pic. # 103-104 and pine forest of Babtai 2 km from town near the Nevezis river; 99; pic. # 105-106. Vandziogala, the Jewish cemetery US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

On June 25, 1941, the Germans reached Vandziogala. Harrassment began as they were forbidden to walk on the pavement or to use buses. Local Lithuanian collaborators identified Jewish homes with a sign "Jude". Forced labor imposed on both Jewish men and women included demeaning tasks for their Lithuanian neighbors' homes and farms and on the nearby estate called Labunova, jobs like cleaning outhouses. On July 8, armed Lithuanians murdered  fifty Jewish men and three women in the Borekas woods near the Jewish cemetery. The remaining Jews were forced into a ghetto at the end of Keidan Street and had heir belongings and homes stolen by former Lithuanian neighbors. On August 9 or 16, armed Lithuanian white-bands attacked the synagogue during prayers. About 100 men were put on carts and a few women picked up were brought to Babtai, 12 km from Vandziogala, and kept in Babtai's synagogue for two weeks until they were murdered. On August 28, the remaining Jewish women, children, and men captured in hiding in the surrounding area were brought to the same place. Several women who resisted were shot in their feet and buried alive. The local Lithuanians turned the synagogue into a cow shed and used tombstones from the Jewish cemetery to pave their sidewalks.Fewer than ten Jews survived WWII.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2010 00:02