Alternate names: Vilkaviškis [Lith], Wyłkowyszki [Pol], Vilkovishk [Yid], Vilkovishki [Rus], Wilkowischken [Ger], Vilkavišķi [Latv], Wiłkowyszki, Vilkaviškio, Vilkavishkis, Vilkavisk, Vilkovisk, Volkovisk, Volkovyshki, Russian: Вилковишки. װילקאָװישק -Yiddish. 54°39' N, 23°02' E, In SW Lithuania, 38 miles WSW of Kaunas (Kovno), 38 miles N of Suwałki (Suvalk), 14 miles WNW of Marijampole. [This is not Volkovysk, Grodno gubernia, E of Białystok (now Vawkavysk, Belarus).] 1900 Jewish population: 3,480 (60%).
Lite (vol. 1) (New York, 1951) ShtetLink. Jews settled in Vilkaviškis near the German border in the 16th century. Around 1623, one of the oldest synagogues in Lithuania was built and senselessly burned down by the German Army on June 22, 1942. The town became an important trade center between Russia and Germany in the 19th century when Jews made up the largest part of the town's population. According to the 1923 census, the Lithuanians totaled to 3,228 (47.7%) and the Jews to 3,166 (45.2 %). Around WWII, Jews made up 6,994 (7.37%) of all the inhabitants in Vilkaviškis District. During the German occupation, eleven districts made up the Vilkaviškis District. More numerous Jewish communities were Vilkaviškis, Kybartai, Virbalis and Pilviškis. In other districts, the Jewish population was scarce or not present at all (i.e. in Pajevonis District). During Lithuania's Independence, Vilkaviškis played a less significant role as the main trade town of Suvalkija; Marijampole took that position. Still, the town remained an important center of trade and industry. In the first years of independence, the local Jewish community played a very important part in the town's cultural and political life. Jews received the majority of votes for representatives elected in the September 1924 elections to the town council. Mauša Kleinšteinas was elected the Head of the Council. In the inter-war period, the majority of the town's Jews engaged in trade or owned some sort of their own business such as tobacco, soap, or confections. The companies of Kabaker, Fisher and other exported agricultural products were known beyond the region. A few large Jewish factories operated in the town: a cigar factory, an oil factory, a few soap workshops, a bristle processing enterprise, and a horsehair trade enterprise. In 1929 the Jewish bank had 348 members. After Lithuania's independence in 1918, a Jewish primary school was founded in Vilkaviškis, which was quite different from the cheders, where only religion and Hebrew were taught. In 1919, one of the first Jewish gymnasiums was founded Vilkaviskis during the Republic of Lithuania from which 360 students graduated. The Jewish community had various political parties, libraries, charities, nursing homes for the elderly, sports clubs, and other institutions. [March 2009]
Unmaintained cemetery has about 1000 stones in good to average condition. Yiddish name is Vilkovishk. Vilkaviskis, former military shooting-ground; 184; pic. # 333-335 US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad
cemetery information [October 2009]
JOWBR burial list: Vilkaviskis Jewish Cemetery (New Jewish Cemetery).
MASS GRAVES: The German army occupied Vilkaviškis on the first day of WWII. The town was severely bombed and damaged by heavy artillery. At the border a strong battle raged between the Wermacht divisions and Soviet frontier troops. After occupation of the town, Germans burned many Jewish houses and the old synagogue after which they established a German Military Commander's Office and Lithuanian police and a squad of "partisans" (white-bands). The Jews were made to put on yellow patches on their breasts and backs. After a few days, local white-bands started arresting communists and Jews. On April 30, the arrested Jews were herded to the former three-story building of the Vilkaviškis seminary surrounded with barbed wire and guarded by local white-bands and the police. These imprisoned Jews were brutally beaten, searched, and robbed. On July 4, they were moved from the seminary to barracks as guards continued to beat and humiliate them. Daily, able-bodied Jews were taken to the town to clean streets and the ruins of the fighting. At the end of July, the arrested Jews were taken to grounds not far away from the barracks and in three days dug a 25-m long and several meters deep ditch. On July 28, they were taken out to the yard of the barracks and divided into groups. One group was sent to the storage of the barracks to clean guns. Soon, two buses full of Gestapo drove into the yard. A large group of 60 to 70 communists from the town prison were brought over. The Lithuanian policemen delivered these detainees to the ditch in groups where they were shot by German soldiers. Meanwhile, Lithuanian policemen guarded the barracks from the firing grounds. The massacre lasted for 3 to 5 hours. That day about 500 to 700 Jews and 60 to 70 communists were shot. Only seven Jewish men escaped the death. A month of so later, the remaining Jewish families was ordered to move from their flats to the barracks. The Jews were allowed to move could take their valuables with them. The Jewish women and children of Vilkaviškis were shot on September 24. In 1941 Soviet war prisoners dug up new ditches. On November 15 , the remaining 115 Jews (36 men, 48 women and 31 children) of the town of Vilkaviškis were shot by Vilkaviškis policemen. The property of the massacred Jews was later sold to the local population. The massacre of Vilkaviškis Jews was the last massacre of Jews in the Lithuanian province in 1941. Only few Jews escaped death. A seventeen-year-old Jewish girl (Faktorovskyte) was one of the lucky ones. The family of Čižauskiene helped save her life and hid herl at her relatives' place in the countryside. During the entire Nazi occupation, the family of Eugenija Dimšiene hid the son of the Vilkaviškis sweet factory owner, Juozas Demontas. Although the neighbors knew that Dimšas family raised a Jewish boy, nobody turned them in. There were more cases like that, but unfortunately, they were not recorded in time and remain unknown. [March 2009]
|Last Updated on Friday, 08 March 2013 22:17|