Web site about Jewish history, life & heritage in East Prussia (now divided among Lithuania, Russia & Poland)
A web site with an interactive map of Lithuania showing dozens of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other Jewish heritage sites, with links to photo galleries and information. There are also other resources.
CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES
Various information on hundreds of cemeteries and mass grave sites.
Ongoing project by a non-profit Lithuanian organization called Maceva to digitally document all Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania, posting photographs, epitaphs and other information on the web site. There is an interactive map of cemeteries, as well as other resources and links. You can download a PDF file of the Maceva brochure.
A web site, including an interactive map, dedicated to the documentation of 227 sites of mass execution and mass burials of Jews killed in the Holocaust. The project was launched in 2010 by Vilna Gaon National Jewish Museum in Vilnius and the Austrian Verein Gedenkdienst organization. (A book of the Atlas was published in 2012).
Download from here the PDF copy of Lo-Tishkach Foundation’s Preliminary Report on Legislation & Practice Relating to the Protection and Preservation of Jewish Burial Grounds in Lithuania. The report includes historical background as well as practical information and legislation.
Material from the archives of the Lithuanian photo journalist and ethnographer, Balys Buracas (1897-1972).
An online exhibit from the Museum of Family History
Photos of wooden synagogues documented by the Center for Jewish Art.
Photographic project to document surviving wooden synagogues in Lithuania and Belarus. Some of the photos formed a traveling exhibition that has been shown in several countries.
Once the Jerusalem of the North, a center for Yiddish culture and later the site of a notorious World War II ghetto, Vilnius — pre-war Yiddish Vilna — today has few surviving sites of its long and important Jewish history. Its Moorish-style Choral Synagogue (designed by architect Dovydas Rozenhauzas and inaugurated in September 1903), is one of only two synagogues still serving a religious purpose in Lithuania (the other is in Kaunas).
There are remnants of two Jewish cemeteries (and one cemetery still in use), but plaques and information panels mark most other historic Jewish sites, including the place where the Great Synagogue was located, in the heart of the old Jewish district, which has largely been destroyed.
A vast memorial in the Paneriai forest outside the city, where tens of thousands of Jews and others were murdered under the German occupation in World War II, is also administered by the museum.
The Jewish Community web site provides a list of 19 sites of Jewish interest in Vilnius and environs.
Jono David has extensive photo documentation of Jewish sites in Vilnius:
Two 19th century synagogues — the so-called “White Synagogue” and “Red Synagogue” — stand next to each other in the center of this town in northern Lithuania, forming one of the country’s most important Jewish heritage complexes. The scalloped-roofed White Synagogue (so-called because it outer walls are plastered white) was built in 1823 and turned into a Jewish school and function hall when the neo-Gothic, red brick Red Synagogue was built in 1865. The complex was declared a Cultural Heritage Object by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage in Lithuania in 1970 despite the neglect and misuse of the buildings.
During the Soviet period, the Red Synagogue was used as a metal foundry, a youth club and as residential housing. Both synagogues underwent fitful renovation work in the 1990s and 2000s, funded in part by the World Monuments Fund. But the Red Synagogue’s roof was damaged by a wind storm in 2004, and then, in late December 2007, the entire eastern wall of the building collapsed. The collapse and lack of a roof led to severe water damage of much of the interior.
Following this, the synagogue — including its interior fittings and decoration — was reconstructed and restored with funding from a European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway grant that was used in conjunction with funding from the Lithuanian Heritage Protection Department and from the Joniškis municipality.
The Red Synagogue was rededicated as a cultural space in 2014. And the EEA has also provided funds to rehabilitate the White Synagogue.
There is a small, semi-ruined Jewish cemetery a few kilometers north of town, just off the A12 road toward the border..
A project of the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Today, on the border with Poland. There is a former Jewish communal complex on Sodų Street. It includes the ruined Great Synagogue, built in 1795-1803 to replace an 18th century wooden synagogue; it was used as a warehouse after World War II, and its roof collapsed in the mid-1990s. In addition, there is a Beit Midrash, built in 1865, also used as a warehouse in the Soviet period, which has been partially restored. Between these two buildings is a red brick school, marked with a star of David, that dates from the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. Nearby the remains of a mikveh also still exist, near the river. A remnant of the Jewish cemetery also remains.
Website created by Ralph Salinger that includes a map of the surviving part of the cemetery; photographs of all the gravestones showing their epitaphs; a list of people buried there, with position of grave and dates. There is also a section on the synagogues, with pictures.
The synagogue, dating from 1801, is the oldest and most valuable of the wooden synagogues in Lithuania. It suffered severe damage in a fire in 2009. Restoration began in 2015m with a more than€568,000 grant from the Lichtenstein/Iceland/Norway European Economic Area (EEA). The building is to become a children’s library. Total cost of the project will be € 751,352, according to the EEA. According to the EEA, the restoration will recreate the murals that once adorned the inner walls of the building.
A project of the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It illustrates the history of the synagogue and the Jewish presence in the town — noting that there were once three synagogues in Pakruojis. The wooden synagogue, it notes, was transformed into a movie house after the Holocaust and eventually abandoned.
It also includes striking photo documentation of the synagogue made in 1938, showing the painted decoration on the ceiling and the carved ark and bimah — and it puts these all together in a digital recreation of the building, inside and out, showing the architectural and artistic features.
The impressive “Lost Shtetl” memorial complex, officially dedicated in October 2015, encompasses four sites in and around the small town of Šeduva. These include the restored Jewish cemetery and newly-commissioned monuments by Lithuanian sculptor Romas Kvintas that mark three sites in the area — in the Liaudiškiai and Pakuteniai forests – where, in the summer of 1941, local Jews were taken to be killed by Nazis and their Lithuanian accomplices and were buried in mass graves. There is also a commemorative sculpture in the village. The memorial, costing about €3 million, took more than two years to bring to fruition. There are plans to open a Jewish museum across from the cemetery.
Small, simple wooden synagogue, dating from the late 19th century, which was listed in 2015 on the Cultural Heritage Department of the Culture Ministry’s Register of Cultural Properties.
The Lithuanian Synagogues Catalogue, edited by Aliza Coen-Mushlin, Sergey Kravtsov, Vladimir Levin, Giedrė Mickūnaitė, Jurgita Šiaučiūnaitė-Verbickienė (vol. 2; pp 187-191), describes it thus:
a rectangular log structure on a masonry foundation, elongated on an east-west axis, 13.19 m long, 11.95 m wide and about 9.50 m high above the foundation. The log walls are reinforced with vertical posts and sided with vertical planks. There were two entrances, in the northern and western façades (Figs. 4, 5), however it is not clear which was the main one. The exterior clearly shows the interior division of space into a lofty prayer hall and a two-storey western part with a vestibule and first-floor women’s section. The interior partitions have not survived, and today the interior is a single space. The interior was lathed and plastered. Today, the plaster is largely lost; where it survives, traces of blue painted frieze can be seen.
The small town in southern Lithuania was severely damaged during World War II and almost totally rebuilt. Most Jewish sites were destroyed; the new Jewish cemetery (used from 1875-1942) is just about the only physical trace that remains. There is also a mass grave site where local Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
Links and resources on the Jewish history of the town, with an ample section on the New Jewish Cemetery, including a map of the cemetery and photographs of the approximately 180 surviving gravestones (out of an estimate 5,000 burials). There is also a map of the town, showing where the elaborate wooden Great Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery, Jewish old age home and other sites once stood. Other pages have photos and other material about the Great Synagogue and other sites that were destroyed.
ŽEMAIČIŲ NAUMIESTIS (Neishtot-Tavrig in Yiddish
Disused synagogue dating from the early 19th-century. The building was damaged in World War I, when much of the town was burned, and rebuilt in 1919 (including a new roof). During World War II local Jews were gathered there in 1941 ahead of deportation to their execution and labor camps. The synagogue is not owned by a Jewish community and is in poor condition in danger of collapse.
Wooden synagogue dating from the mid-19th century, long abandoned and in decaying condition — though there are plans to restore it. In the video below, the quotes are translated into English on the YouTube site.