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VILIKIJA: Kaunas PDF Print E-mail

File:Vilkija COA.gif The Jewish community settled in Vilkija at the end of the 18th century. In 1915, the Czsarist government deported the Jews to Russia. In 1921, about 800 Jews (80% of the total) resided in Vilkija. During the inter-war period, the number of the Jews decreased. On the eve of WWII, about 400 Jews (48% of the total) resided in the town mostly engaged in trade (including with Eastern Prussia). During Independence, the local Jewish community had two synagogues, a Hebrew school, and charity and sports organisations. Before WWII, many Jewish youth moved to Kaunas or emigrated. community history.[March 2009]

MASS GRAVES: Following the German occupation at the end of June 1941, a German Military Commander's Office was set up in Vilkija and a "partisan" (white-band) squad  formed as guards to arrest communists, escaping Red Army soldiers, and later to arrest and shoot Jews. On July 7-8, the white-bandsarrested about 150-200 Jewish men and delivered them to Kaunas; 21 Jews were shot near Jagminiškiai village near Vilkija. This squad a;sp was sent to rural districts of Kaunas to arrest and execute Jews. In August 1941, mass terrorizing of Jews commenced with Vilkija a major gathering point for Kaunus guberniya Jews. Jews from other rural districts also were transferred to Vilkija Ghetto. In mid-August, 603 Jews lived in Vilkija Rural District. On August 18, 138 Jews were gathered from Vilkija, Seredžius, Čekiške, Veliuona, and Lekečiai, 23 men and 115 women. Some were taken to Kaunas and eventually executed in Kaunas Forts. Next were 280 men and 120 women taken from Vilkija. 222 local Jews "contributed" 21,400 rubles. Besides those local Jews still there, 119 Jews from different Rural Districts were held in Vilkija Ghetto at the end of August. Their execution was carried out on August 28 when 402 persons (76 men, 192 women and 134 children) were shot. That day about 25-30 or 40 soldiers arrived from Kaunas in two lorries. German officers and soldiers waited in the town. The Jews in a synagogue were lined up in a column and taken to the massacre site in Pakarkle forest (about 2 km from Vilkija) near Jaučakiai village. Some local white-bands surrounded the place while others took the Jews in groups to the trench.Before and during shootings, the soldiers were given vodka. After the massacre, they returned to Kaunas. [March 2009]

CEMETERY: photos of gravestones and cemetery.

Cemetery is in good condition with around 150 graves between 1880-1920. Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
directions to the cemetery "… just east of the town on the right hand side of the road coming from Kaunus. It is just past the Christian cemetery, which is on the left side. There is a small wooden sign that says "Zydu Kabines" (Jewish Cemetery). Follow the path by car into the woods about 1/2 km. It's on the left. There are about 80 stones in very good condition. Walking into the cemetery the oldest stones are on the left side. A few were from 1860's, but most from 1890-1920. We met two local Lithuanian woman who take care of the cemetery and keep it from being overgrown. They have erected small stakes around the cemetery to form a fence and are starting to plant pine saplings. When asked if they get paid for doing this they said, 'No. It is our duty to due this. As Lithuanians, we must remember.' The small parking lot in town, just past Kovno Street on the right was the site of the synagogue. It's on the edge of a steep incline with a beautiful view of the river and pastures. All that remains are part of the brick foundation at the bottom of the incline. We were told the synagogue was destroyed when the road was paved." [November 2000]

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2009 16:16
 
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