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Pilviškiai Holocaust Site, Lithuania

Article about: I find that some of the most moving sites are those discovered by accident. In this case, I was driving from Saldus in Latvia to Kętrzyn in Poland when I just happened to see the marker

  1. #1

    Default Pilviškiai Holocaust Site, Lithuania

    I find that some of the most moving sites are those discovered by accident. In this case, I was driving from Saldus in Latvia to Kętrzyn in Poland when I just happened to see the marker post by the roadside.


    World War II started with the German invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939 and its fatal consequences for Lithuanian Jews in general and Naishtot's Jews in particular were to be felt several months later.

    According to the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty on the division of occupied Poland, the Russians occupied the Suwałki region, but after delineation of exact borders between Russia and Germany the Suwałki region fell into German hands. The retreating Russians allowed anyone who wanted to join them to move into their occupied territory, and many young people did leave the area together with the Russians. The Germans drove the remaining Jews out of their homes in Suwałki and its vicinity, robbed them of their possessions, then directed them to the Lithuanian border where they were left in dire poverty. The Lithuanians did not allow them to enter Lithuania and the Germans did not allow them to return. Thus, they stayed in this swampy area in cold and rain for several weeks until Jewish youths from the border villages smuggled them into Lithuania by various routes, with much risk to themselves. Altogether, about 2,400 refugees passed through the border or infiltrated on their own and were then dispersed in the Suwałki region. The Pilviškiai community accommodated and cared temporarily for 100 refugees.

    In 1939 there were 2,905 people in Pilviškiai, including about 700 Jews (24%).

    In June 1940 Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union and became a Soviet Republic. Following new rules, the bigger Jewish shops and workshops of Pilviškiai were nationalised and commissars were appointed to manage them. The supply of goods decreased and, as a result, prices soared. The middle class, mostly Jewish, bore most of the brunt and the standard of living dropped gradually. All Zionist parties and youth organizations were disbanded, the Hebrew school was closed and in its place a Yiddish school opened.

    In the middle of June 1941 four Jewish families were exiled into Russia as 'unreliable elements' following the nationalisation of Jewish businesses in accordance with regulations. These were Yekutiel Fridman and his mother Tova (but they remained in town after the intervention of the workers committee of the fur factory which belonged to the Fridman family, where Mr Fridman was the specialist in this vocation), Leib Ushpitz and wife Tsilah, Moshe Markson and wife Freidl, Meir Shimberg and wife Sarah, sons Hirshl and Baruch. Most of them returned to Lithuania several years after the war.

    On the 23rd of June 1941, one day after the war between Germany and the USSR began, the German army entered Pilviškiai. Immediately the Lithuanian police took over the rule of the town, the commander and his deputy were Germans. On the 28th of June an order was issued for Jews to wear a yellow 'Magen David' on their clothes, not to walk on side walks and not to be in the street after 8pm. It was also forbidden for Jews to buy goods in the market. One particular day the prominent Jews of the town, headed by Rabbi Avraham Reznik, were made to assemble in the market square where their beards were cut off and they were forced to do 'exercises'.

    At the beginning of July the men were separated from the women and children and concentrated in a barn in Antanavas Street, from where the Lithuanians would take them out for hard and humiliating labour. On their way back from work they were forced to go through the swamps, to do 'exercises' and to crawl for several kilometres. The German commander ordered the erection of a sewing shop and appointed Leibl Zeiberg as chief tailor. He also issued an order prohibiting Lithuanians to enter Jewish houses or to remove anything without his permission. Another order given stated that only men up to aged 50 and women up to aged 45 would be taken for work. The commander also forbade 'exercises' in the swamps and advised the Jews to create a Jewish committee whose were to contact him in order to defend the Jews. A committee of 4 persons was set up, headed by Yitskhak Ushpitz, with Yisrael-Ber Axel in charge of maintaining order. Among the local Jews there were a few who had escaped from Vilkaviškis, among them Rabbi Eliyahu-Aharon Grin.

    On August 27th 1941, early in the morning, all men aged 14 to 70 years old were rounded up in the market square, the sick being brought on carts. They were kept under heavy guard by armed Lithuanians from the Pilviškiai Self-Defence Police Unit (White Stripers), who maltreated them during the day. At 9pm they were led back to the barn of a Jewish man named Kovenskis in the Pilviškiai township prior to their murder.

    The next day, Thursday the 28th, at 3am before dawn, all the men were taken out of the barn. The 10 artisans were sent to the sewing shop, whereas 200 were given spades and told that they were being sent to Germany for digging peat. They were taken to land belonging to the large-scale farm of Jonas Lozoraitis in the Baltrušiai village (about 2 km from Pilviškiai) and ordered to dig two ditches. On Friday 29th about 300 to 350 Jewish men and several dozen Soviet activists (including a group of girls from the Communist Youth Organisation) were taken to the ditches. Before their murder, the victims were made to disrobe and were then taken in small groups to the edge of a ditch and shot. Germans and several Pilviškiai policemen did the shooting. There were about 10 to 15 shooters firing at the same time. Victims were shot in the back from approximately 10 metres away. German officers photographed the mass murder. Among the victims was Dr. Moshe Dembovsky, a reserve Colonel of the Lithuanian Army, who had fought during the Lithuanian independence war. Before he was shot he told the Lithuanian murderers that their crimes would not be forgotten and that the blood of the innocent victims would forever call for revenge, in response to which the Lithuanians cracked his head with the butts of their rifles. All the victims were piled into one of the ditches, the other was left empty. The Lithuanians took the valuables of the victims for themselves. The women and children were left in the town, as well as 10 men who worked for the German Kommandantur and 30 men who managed to hide. Among them were Rabbi Reznik and Rabbi Grin who were hidden in a cellar by the women.

    On September 14th it was rumoured that something was about to happen. 70 women escaped and hid in surrounding villages. On the next day, September 15th, a bus with German soldiers from Vilkaviškis arrived, as did some local policemen from the local Self-Defence Squad, to murder the Jewish women, children, and elderly men. The women and children were ordered to leave their houses and for each to take a small parcel with them, having been told that they were going to be transferred to the Kovno Ghetto. They were brought to the market square and from there taken to the same field near Baltrušiai Village, where the shooting of August 29th had taken place. The 10 men who worked for the German Kommandantur and the rest of the men were also included. Among them was also the pharmacist Bolnik, who guessed what was going to happen and swallowed the poison he had prepared before. All, including the two Rabbis, were then led to the empty ditch. Before the shooting, the victims were told to sit down, strip to their underwear and to turn over their jewellery. They were then taken in small groups to the ditch and shot by the German soldiers from the Commander's Office with submachine guns and by the Lithuanians with rifles. The children were thrown into the ditch alive. In the middle of the massacre, a bus with Vilkaviškis police arrived. They took over the shooting from the local police and from the White-Stripers squad. About 700-800 women, children and elderly men were murdered whilst Gestapo, in civilian dress, photographed the Lithuanian murderers at 'work'. By evening the perpetrators returned to the town singing the Lithuanian anthem. The clothes and personal possessions of the victims were taken to storage and later distributed among the killers or sold to the local inhabitants.

    According to various sources, between 750 to 1,000 people were murdered on that day. A Lithuanian source says that altogether 1,800 people were murdered in Pilviškiai.

    After the war the survivors of Pilviškiai and vicinity erected a monument on the mass graves. In 1986 the former Pilviškiai Jews in Israel, together with those of Virbaln and Kibart erected a joint monument for these three communities in the Holon Cemetery.



    I would have liked to have had more time to look around the general area and only learnt of these events once back in the UK.
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    "You will never know the whole truth" ~ Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski

  2. #2

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    Whats happend with the 400 m marker? Looks like neo-Nazis tried to damage the top.

  3. #3
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    A very sobering and informational thread.. May their souls RIP.... I appreciate the time it took to compose this piece for the members here..
    I'd rather be A "RaD Man than a Mad Man "

  4. #4
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    Quote by RKKAFan View Post
    Whats happend with the 400 m marker? Looks like neo-Nazis tried to damage the top.
    I agree...Some people do not understand the gravity of the past.... Shameful......
    I'd rather be A "RaD Man than a Mad Man "

  5. #5

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    Interesting in the fact that it was, apparently, entirely Photographed, as most "special work" was strictly forbidden to record. I wonder if the photographs still exist?
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  6. #6
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    Nicely presented, thank you for posting.

    Carl
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  7. #7

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    After many years of research a French priest has complied a list of MOST of the massacre sits of Jews throughout Poland and the east. It turns out that there are hundreds, if not thousands of previously unknown sites like this. The true toll of Jews murdered during this period may be far higher than the 6 million that we have heard. Man's inhumanity... No. Man's humanity.

    French priest hunts for graves from the Holocaust - philly-archives

  8. #8
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    Thank You for this post friend. It is a good thing to remember. Anti sematism is alive and well in the world.
    The Politically correct media has much to do with it. Jews defend themselves in Israel and around the world simply because as a people they have seen this happen again and again.

    The UN which is a vipers nest of Muslim states that have sworn to kill all Jews and destroy Israel. The Arabs turned down a nation in 1948 and chose to destroy Israel and all of the Jews and when Israel became a nation 5 Arab Muslim countries attacked tiny Israel and got their butts kicked.

    Israel today has a population of 6 Million, 2 million of them Arab citizens. These Arabs have rights and freedoms that are not available in any other Muslim country.

    Israel withdrew from all of Gaza strip leaving commercial green houses that provided an agricultural industry that created jobs and a basis for an independent economy. Which were destroyed by Hamas.
    Hamas soon after were voted the official government of Gaza who attacked Israel with rockets, most supplied by Iran, and tunnels dug from Gaza into Israel to attack Israelis which they have done. After Hamas got its butt kicked it has started 3 wars by attacking Israelis with rockets, bombing of buses of children, murdering any Israeli they can get close to.
    The wars the Arab Muslim countries have started with Israel have gotten their butts whipped every time.
    Now even Egypt has blockaded their border with Gaza just as Israel has to stop the attacks and smuggling of war materials to Gaza to attack Israel with.

    It seems that the politically correct crowd world wide don't want Israelis to kill the people that have sworn to destroy them and attack them on a regular basis.
    Now Boycotting Israel is the smarmy thing to do.
    Palestinians are the only group of people in the world that are perpetual refugees. They have their own permanent refugee office at the UN. They get Millions of Dollars every year to be refugees. They breed like rats and their leaders steal most of the money that comes from the UN.
    Oddly enough the Arab countries keep them pinned in $hithole camps of their own.

    Israel is held to a higher standard than any other country in the world when fighting its enemies.
    Israel calls areas where they are going to attack to get innocents out of the way.
    I haven't seen or heard of the USA, RUSSIA or any other countries warning ISIS when they attack and lots of civilians die as a result.

    The anti-Semitism in the world today is no different that what the NAZIs practiced in the 30s and 40s.
    This is some of the insane $hit the Jews have to deal with today.

    This is a good thread and it gave me a chance to state my views of modern anti-Semitism.

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    Unfortunately, I would imagine that it's nearly an impossible task to record and locate All of the sites of atrocities throughout Europe. Places like Slovenia and Croatia, Serbia, etc would take volumes alone.
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  10. #10
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    Quote by Wagriff View Post
    Unfortunately, I would imagine that it's nearly an impossible task to record and locate All of the sites of atrocities throughout Europe. Places like Slovenia and Croatia, Serbia, etc would take volumes alone.
    One of the projects I am currently involved with is the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) work addressing tens of thousands of such sites - this is the greatest study ever related to sites of persecution under the Nazi regime, with a seven volume encyclopedia (first two already released) due to be released over a twenty year period. The work began back in 1999.

    It is true that not every site can be noted and recorded but this work is by far the closest to such a record. Personally, I consider it an honour to be involved. Links below provide more details:

    http://www.ushmm.org/research/public...-camps-ghettos

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/su...king.html?_r=0
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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