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VILNIUS: Vilna PDF Print E-mail

Alternate names: Vilnius [Lith], Vilna [Rus], Wilno [Pol], Vilne [Yid], Wilna [Ger], Viļņa [Latv], Vilnia, Vilno, Vilnyus, Russian: Вильна, Bильнюc. ווילנע-Yiddish. 54°41' N, 25°19' E, Capital of Lithuania, but was in Poland between the two World Wars. 1900 Jewish population: 63,841. Yizkors: Ghetto in flames; the struggle and destruction of the Jews in Vilna in the Holocaust (Jerusalem, 1980); Yerushalayim de Lita (New York, 1974); Ir Vilna: Zikhronot adat Yisrael ve-toldot haye gedoleha (Vilna, 1900); Bleter vegn Vilne; zamlbukh (Lodz, 1947); Vilner zamlbukh--measef Vilna (Tel Aviv, 1974.  ShtetLink. Vilna Center for Jewish Heritage (Vilna Shul- Boston) website. [October 2000]

History of the three Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius of which only one remains, the new Jewish cemetery opened in Šeškinė district near Sudervė Cemetery. "The oldest and the largest Jewish cemetery was established in Šnipiškės (Yiddish: Shnipishok) suburb, now in Žirmūnai elderate, on the opposite bank of the Neris River than Gediminas Tower in the 15th century. It was closed by Tsarist authorities in 1831. It was destroyed by the Soviet authorities in 1949-1950 during the construction of Žalgiris Stadium. The Palace of Concerts and Sports (Lithuanian: Koncertų ir sporto rūmai) was built in 1971 right in the middle of the former cemetery. In 2005, apartment and office buildings were built on top of another part of the site, incurring condemnation from international Jewish organizations and resulted in a motion being passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, condemning Lithuania for its "failure to protect the historic Jewish cemetery in Vilnius." In August 2009 Lithuanian government reached agreement with Jewish organizations on the boundaries of the cemetery and granted it protected status. Buildings already on the site will not be demolished. [September 2009]

History of Jewish Vilnius. YouTube. [September 2013]

 

CEMETERY:Old view of Vilna Jewish cemetery Large maintained cemetery is still in use with a couple thousand stones or so. Also many new stones commemorate ghetto fighters, Bundists, and underground, etc. Some stones have been moved here from other cemeteries. There is an old lady who "works" there who seems to know where everyone is. In Vilnius (Vilna) are two Jewish cemeteries, one post WWII, that is well kept and quite large, one older, which has been desecrated. Many of its stones were removed for building a large series of steps leading to the Communist Party Headquarters. I have photos of both cemeteries; quite a contrast. Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

There were originally three cemeteries. The Russians built on the old one having first transferred the mausoleum of the Gaon and his family to the new cemetery (first used in 1941). After a considerable outcry, the municipality had restored the remains of the intermediate cemetery, but when we went to visit it in 1995, we found that it had been totally vandalized beyond repair. Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

UPDATE: The Jewish Community of Lithuania was granted the right to look after the functioning Jewish cemetery in the city, i.e. they are now in charge of insuring the security of the cemetery, cleaning etc. (previously done by the state). They do not own the land, but are in charge. The Community appointed "Stella" company to take care of all the matters pertaining to the cemetery. Company's director is Mr. J. Guring. The company has almost completed the inventory of the cemetery and downloading the data on the computer. The work is costly and the company would like to receive some reimbursement for it. Source: Dr. Alperovitch at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [February 2002]

cemetery photos. [March 2007]

Vandalism: Vandals demolished 22 gravestones in the Vilnius (Vilna) Jewish cemetery on the night of 23 June 2006. The President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, city officials, and others all reacted strongly to the destruction, saying they hoped the perpetrators would soon be identified. With assistance from the municipality, the gravestones were quickly restored, but the vandals have not been apprehended. The news was announced on the Jewish community of Lithuania website in July. [January 2009]

Video of cemetery. Click on cc for closed captions because the tour is in Yiddish: [July 2013]

 

 

MASS GRAVE: Pantrial; 39-47; pic. # 1-12. Subacius str.; 48-49; pic. # 13-15; source: US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

BOOKS:
Korot beit ha-almin hayashan bevilna (History of the old cemetery in Vilnius), by L. Kloisner. Vilnius, 1935, 114, 28 pages, illustrated, map.
Hebrew text and summary in Polish and Yiddish. S36A638. Notes: 222 tombstones, 1636-1786, Rabbi HaGRAs descendants and pupils genealogy, index. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography . Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.
Author: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Title: YIVO Vilna collection on Jewish customs, [ca. 1830-1941]
Description: 3.3 linear ft. Notes: photographs of graves and funerals and commemorative albums; … YIVO collections are in Yiddish, Russian, Polish, English, Hebrew, and other European and non-European languages. Part of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Vilna, Poland Archives. Location: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York, NY. Control No.: NXYH89-A39 [December 2000]
Author: Vilna Jewish Community Council. Title: Records, 1800-1940, 1844-1940 (bulk).
Description: 10.9 linear ft. Notes: The Kehillah governed Jewish community of Vilna until abolished in 1844. The Tsedakah Gedolah, whose power extended only to charity, synagogue, and cemetery functions, replaced the Kehillah. Democratically principled New Kehillah that existed from 1919 to 1940 replaced system. Records of Tsedakah Gedolah, including some of the earlier Kehillah, contain … Khevra Kadisha (burial society), 1849-1860; cemetery, 1876-1916; … New Kehillah records consist of … Cemetery Dept., YIVO collections are in Yiddish, Russian, Polish, English, Hebrew, and other European and non-European languages. Inventory. Part of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Vilna, Poland Archives. Location: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York, NY. Control No.: NXYH89-A9 [December 2000]

Photos courtesy Merle Kastner
Last Updated on Sunday, 29 September 2013 14:45
 
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