Holocaust in Rokiskis


The 23rd of Av [15 August 1941] and the 2nd of Elul [25 August 1941] commemorate the mass slaughter of the Jewish people in Rokiskis.  Be sure to read the account on the Yad Vashem website.


        Bajorai Killing Site
(photo courtesy of Philip Shapiro)




SIG member Phil Shapiro tells us:

 

As of July 2008, there were still no signs on the paved roads giving direction to the site, but the site itself is marked.  Also, the local history museum at the Tyzenhaus has begun marking the site on local history maps.

 

To visit the site, take the road leading to the northeast of Rokiškis about 1 kilometer past the village of Bajorai (bah-YOR-ray).  At the point where a sign indicates that a right-hand fork goes to Lukštai and Savartynas, there is a dirt road immediately on the right which leads into the woods.  Take the dirt road approximately 300 meters.  The massacre site is on the right.

 
  Bajorai Killing Site

 

(photo courtesy of Robin Esrock)

You can view a video of this memorial at the Yad Vashem website on the Commemoration of Jewish Victims. Be sure to look on the right side of the page.  




 

 

Plaque at the Bajorai Killing Site

The Jews from the Rokiskis district were murdered at Bajorai, also known as Velniaduobe.  The inscription is written in two languages, Lithuanian and Yiddish, and has been translated for us by Regina Kopilevich.

The plaque reads "In this place Hitlerists and their local helpers on August 15 and 16, 1941 cruelly killed 3207 Jews - children, women, men.  Let the memory of them be blessed."

 

 

 

More Killing Sites Remembered

 
The following is an English translation of the Rokiskis Regional Museum's full June 21, 2017, press release. 
 

 logo

ROKIŠKIO KRAŠTO MUZIEJUS

Biudžetinė įstaiga, Tyzenhauzų al. 5,  LT-42115 Rokiškis, Tel. (8 458) 52 261,

(8 458) 31 512, faks/tel. (8 458) 52 835, el. p.: muziejus@rokiskyje.lt.

Duomenys kaupiami ir saugomi Juridinių asmenų registre, kodas 190263920

                                                                                                                                                            2017 06 21

On June 21, Phil and Aldona Shapiro, who are friends and sponsors of the Rokiškis Regional Museum, visited from the USA.  Phil and his brother David founded a non-profit organization called Remembering Litvaks, Inc., which is dedicated to preserving and fostering the Litvak cultural heritage of Lithuania. 

During the June 21 meeting, the visitors discussed several new projects, including those in which the Museum might be a partner.  They also received the results of new historical research that the Museum recently conducted.

On May 8, 2017, Marijona Mieliauskiene, the Museum’s Deputy Director of the Rokiškis Regional Museum, and Giedrius Kujelis, the Director of the Museum’s History Department, visited Jonas Rudokas in Skrebiskis village (who was born in 1934 in the village of Skrebiškis in the Kamajai eldership). The purpose of the visit was to determine the place of killing and burial of a group of Svėdasai Jews.

Mr. Rudokas remembered that in 1941 July or August (he could not recall the precise date) more prosperous Jewish families from Svėdasai were shot on the outskirts of Trakas-Pempiškis forest, near the road leading from Kamajai northward to Rokiškis.

The Museum’s staff, together with Mr. Rudokas and his wife, Aldona Rudokienė, went to the site of the Jewish shooting and burial, which is approximately one kilometer from their home.  Mr. Rudokas pointed to the site at the edge of the Trako-Pempiškis forest close to the Kamajai-Rokiškis road.

Mr. Rudokas explained that the Jewish families from Svėdasai were being transported in the direction of Rokiškis with their possessions in horse-drawn carts.  Their captors then decided to benefit themselves by killing their captives.  When the massacre began, several of the victims tried to escape, but were attacked and shot.

Mr. Rudokas heard from other neighbors that 28 people were shot dead during the incident.  Among the massacre perpetrators were men from the Bekintis family who lived in Svėdasai.

Museum Deputy Director M. Mieliauskienė (who was born in 1952 in Pašilės village in the Kamajai eldership) remembers that her parents and grandmother talked about these killings.  Her grandmother, Anelė Jasiūnienė (1883-1965) had shown her the place where the murdered Svėdasai Jews were buried.

Jonas and Aldona Rudokas and Marijona Mieliauskienė explained that in the 1960s diggings occurred at the massacre site but they did not know who did the digging or the reason it was done.  M. Mieliauskienė had also heard about this from his mother, Liudvika Jasiūnienė (1920-1987).

The Museum coordinators have recorded the specific location, documented the testimony of the witnesses, and drafted an official document regarding the massacre site.  The Museum will present this information to the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania for further actions.  In the opinion of the Museum coordinators, the next steps should be to search for documents in archives, particularly any concerning a possible transfer of the victims’ remains, archaeological research, protecting the site, building a memorial sign, and installing a road sign.

There are several mass murder sites in the Rokiškis area, where between June and August 1941 the Nazis killed Jews who were residents of the region.  Four of these places have been documented.  At Velniaduobė, near the village of Bajorai, 3207 people were killed.  They were residents of the town of Rokiskis and residents from other Jewish towns in the area.  More than 1160 victims are buried near Antanašė village, south of Obeliai.  There are 70 people buried in a mass grave in the village of Vyžuonai and 981 people were killed in the Steponiai woods.

However, there are other massacre places, like the one near the Trakas-Pempiškis forest, that are not marked and have been forgotten by many people.  One such location is on the border of the Šeduikiškis and Kavoliškis villages, just west of Rokiškis on the right side of a small field road.  It was there that the Jofe and Olkin families from Panemunėlis were murdered and buried.  Among those shot dead there was the young poet, Matilda Olkinaitė.

The tragedy of Matilda Olkinaitė has been immortalized by the play of the Theatre of Rokiškis company entitled, “Mute Muses,” which was directed by Neringa Danienė.  The theater company did not limit themselves to the performance to preserve the memory of the Olkin family.  The theatre company, together with the volunteers from the Lithuanian Army’s 506th National Guard unit, which is based in Rokiskis, undertook an expedition to identify the location of the massacre and burial site. There is a plan to mark the boundary of the site and build a commemorative plaque. The association also plans to publish a book of M. Olkinaitė’s poetry.

Click here to see a limited necrology of Holocaust victims from Rokiskis                                        

   

 

        Rokiskis Surviviors who went to Tashkent    

A United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection of  152,000 digitized registration cards of Jewish evacuees and refugees available at the Central State Archives of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Tashkent reveals three from Rokiskis.  You can use the JewishGen Holocaust Database to locate these valuable records.

Click on
each of the names below to see the actual records and their translations.  Thank you to Michael Gorfunkel for the translations from Russian.

Rano Anne Krukos
Haya Krukos
Natalis Krukos

 

 

Monument at mass grave

Monument, located at the site of the mass graves (in the Iodupe forest near Rokiskis) of the several thousand Jews who were murdered by the Nazis and Lithuanian police on  August 15 and 16, 1941.   The inscription in Russian, Lithuanian and Yiddish reads: Here rest those killed by Lithuanian-German nationalists on 15-16 of August, 1941.

Courtesy Boris Feldblyum Collectio    




Close-up View

The inscription in Russian, Lithuanian and Yiddish reads: Here rest those killed by Lithuanian-German nationalists on 15-16 of August, 1941.

 

 

 

 

(photograph courtesy of Isobel Fleishman)


Jaeger Report

From The Jaeger Report, a detailed report by SS-Standartenfuehrer Jaeger regarding mass killings in Nazi occupied USSR, July - November, 1941.

The Commander of the security police and the SD Einsatzkommando 3, Kauen (Kaunas), 1 December 1941.

Complete list of executions carried out in the EK 3 area up to 1 December 1941.  Security police duties in Lithuania taken over by Einsatzkommando 3 on 2 July 1941.  On my instructions and orders the following executions were conducted by Lithuanian partisans:

June 27 - August 14, 1941, Rokiskis 493 Jews, 432 Russians, 56 Lithuanians (all active communists) 981
August 15-16, 1941, Rokiskis 3,200 Jews, Jewesses, and J. Children, 5 Lith. Comm., 1 Pole, 1 partisan 3207
From Key Aspects of German Anti-Jewish Policy by Jürgen Mätthaus (US Holocaust Memorial Museum Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Lithuania and the Jews: Holocaust Chapter, Symposium Presentations, 2004)

Once the officers of Einsatzgruppe A were acclimated to mass murder and the necessary functional elements were in place, the killing of Jewish civilians required primarily the most effective technique. Jäger described mass executions as “an organizational question” to be solved by adopting the proper preparation for each “action.”  Mass graves had to be dug, the Jews had to be rounded up, and transportation had to be arranged. In Rokiškis, about 180 kilometers northeast of Kaunas, it took Hamann and his men a full day to bring more than 3,200 persons to a pit located 4.5 kilometers away from the collecting point. Those who tried to escape were killed on the spot; the others were lined up and shot point-blank in the back of the head so that they would fall into the pit, while the next victims arranged the corpses to fit as many as possible into the mass grave....

From the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, Mass Murder Sites and Dates

July,1941 Steponiai forest Rokiskis
July,1941 Vižūnai forest Rokiskis
August 15-16,1941 Valniadova grove Rokiskis
August 25,1941 Antanuša forest Rokiskis

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