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|Catalog No.||6403||Similar Items|
|Brief Description||The fate of the Jews of Panevezys: an essay by Israel Kaplan||Similar Items|
|Registry No.||20801ר"מ||Similar Items|
|Donor||Eilati Shalom||Similar Items|
|File name||חיבור שכתב קפלן על גורל יהודי פוניבז'||Similar Items|
|Collection||Kaplan Israel||Similar Items|
|Period||During World War II||Similar Items|
|Author||Kaplan Israel||Similar Items|
|databank||Collections Section||Similar Items|
From the Israel Kaplan collection:
An essay written by Kaplan on the fate of the Jews of Panevezys, Lithuania, based on the testimonies of Arje Gafanovic, Roda Gurewicz, Josef Gar, Mordechai Gekler, Chaim Lazar, Josef S. Kahenman, Raja Stein, and Shlomo Stein. Undated; five pages, in Hebrew (two copies: handwritten by Kaplan [5 pages] and typewritten [5 pages]).
On June 26, 1941, Panevezys was conquered by the Germans. Before that many of the city’s Jews tried to flee to the USSR, but only a few succeeded and the majority of those who attempted that route, returned to their homes. The Lithuanians welcomed the Germans and proved their loyalty to the occupiers by persecuting the Jews. Lithuanian nationalists headed by Ajzinas, a former officer in the Lithuanian army, marched the Jews through the city streets and beat them with clubs and their rifle butts until they fell, senseless. The Jews who had been incarcerated in the jail were brought almost every day to the “Grove of the Cross” via Piniava [?] where they were murdered. The men were taken for forced labor, and during the work they were subjected to cruel and terrible abuse. Andzjulis, a Lithuanian, was the cruelest of all. In one incident he and his henchmen pushed some 50 Jews into pits of quicklime and water. Frequently the Germans would select several fit young Jewish men and drive them to the prison or the Pajust Forest. Those taken away were never seen again, and soon there were no young Jews in the city. Rumors spread in the community that the young men were working at digging long, wide trenches, and that prisoners were taken to these trenches and shot and buried there.
In July the Jews were expelled from their homes into a walled ghetto, guarded by Lithuanians. Jews were also brought into the ghetto from the towns of Raguva, Ramygala, Krekenava, and others.
In late August (or early September), thousands of Jew were taken from the ghettos and brought to the Pajust Forest. After being ordered to strip, they were shot, group after group, in the pits. The shooters were drunk and often misfired, and hundreds of Jews were buried alive. The children, for the most part, were thrown into the pits alive. Russian POWs who were brought to there on the same day were put to work covering the bodies with dirt. In one pit they found a boy who was alive and well, and attempted to conceal him in the underbrush, but the Lithuanian Dambrauskas noticed the child and shot him for fear of revenge.
Some Jews escaped from the ghetto and hid in the vicinity, but in a short while were captured. In early 1942, 33 Jews from Vilnius (Vilna) were brought to Panevezys and put to work in the surrounding forests. One was Mordechai Gekler. He and his comrades from Vilna lived in the center of Panevezys, opposite the big church. They were isolated from the rest of the Jews and not guarded.
Four of the city’s Jews hid and remained alive. After the liberation, Jews who had fled to the USSR returned to the city. [Shmuel] Peipert, a young Jew from Krekenava, dedicated himself to the redemption of Jewish children whose parents had during wartime put them in the hands of Lithuanians for safekeeping and now there was no one to take them back. Peipert was shot by a Lithuanian during an argument about one of the children. Close