During World War II and Afterwards
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.
In agreement with the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty on the division of occupied Poland, the Russians occupied the Suvalk region, but after delineation of exact borders between Russia and Germany the Suvalk region fell into German hands. The retreating Russians allowed anyone who wanted to join them to move into their occupied territory, and indeed many young people left the area together with the Russians. The Germans drove the remaining Jews out of their homes in Suvalk 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 "Suvalkia" region. Naishtot community was obliged to accommodate and care temporarily for 100 refugees.
In June 1940 Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union and became a Soviet Republic. Following new rules, the 3 flour mills and the power station owned by Jews were nationalized. A number of Naishtot Jewish shops were nationalized and commissars were appointed to manage them. 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 the Zionist parties and youth organizations were disbanded and some of the members joined the Comsomol- the Communist Youth Organization. The Hebrew school was closed and in its place a Yiddish school opened..
In the middle of June 1941 several Jewish families were exiled into Russia as "Unreliable Elements", following the nationalization of Jewish businesses, according to rules.
In 1941 before the war there were about 3,300 people in Naishtot, 750 Jews among them.
At dawn on June 22, 1941 the German army entered Naishtot encountering no resistance. The first Jewish victims fell that same day. German soldiers shot David Glodnikov, Mordekhai Levinshtein and Iser Grosman. At noon, at the municipality square, in full view of a large public, two Jewish barbers M.Lubovsky and Y.Katz were executed by shooting, after a dead German soldier was found next to their shop.
Naishtot was located on a strip of 25 km near the border with Germany subject to the order of the S.S. Einsatzgruppe commander F.Stahlecker (he was hanged after the war by the Soviets). According to his order this strip of land had do be handed over to the S.D. from Tilzit with a special assignment to cleanse it from Jews and Communists. The commander of Tilzit S.D. handed over the assignement to the S.D. of Schirwindt who fixed the date for the annihilation of Naishtot Jews.
On June 25th all Jews were ordered to the market square. The Lithuanian mayor informed them that from that day on the Jews would work on different tasks in town: they would dig pits, clean and sweep the streets, repair roads etc. The Jews were immediately engaged to work under the supervision of Lithuanian guards who badly mistreated and humiliated them.
At the beginning of July, after the Jews returned from work, a group of armed Lithuanians led by Germans from Shirwindt, swamped the town and ordered all Jewish men, ages 14 and over to come out to the streets. From there, they were led to the municipality building. Municipality clerks stripped them of their documents, money and other valuables. Then, in groups of 50 they were led to the Jewish cemetery where fresh pits were already dug out by Soviet war prisoners. There, they were shot by both Germans and Lithuanians. Victims were forced to stand on the edge of the pit where they were shot, targeted to fall directly into the pit. The next group of victims before being shot themselves would be forced to drag and push bodies into the pit if a victim failed to fall directly into the pit. A total of 192 men, among them several Lithuanian Communists, were murdered on that fatal day.
The district governor and the mayor were both present at the murder schene. Immediately after the murders these two invited all the participants in the murders to a big party where they thanked the Germans and the Lithuanians for the action. In the days that followed Lithuanian collaborators were still looking for escapees. They caught nine men and murdered them too.
Families of the victims were told that the men were sent to Germany to work . Jewish women had to take over, and were then employed to do the same work as the men before their murder. Specific hours were fixed to buy food and to pump water from the public well.
On August 23rd 1941 women and children were whisked to a makeshift Ghetto in two shabby alleys - the synagogue alley and the bathhouse alley.
On September 16th 1941 (24 of Elul 5701) armed Lithuanians showed up in town forcing all women and children from their homes. All were ordered on to carts and transported the Parazniai forest, about 4 km away from Naishtot. Fresh pits were already dug out. Forcing victims to undress before they were shot, the Lithuanians murdered 650 Jewish women and children. One young woman refused to undress, and a killer cut her dress and stomach open.
Following the annihilation of the Jewish population , the municipality took over Jewish properties and started its allocation. Nasty squabbles began among the Lithuanians during the division process.
One family, Malka Glik with her 4 children, managed to hide at the farm of Lithuanian peasants and survived.
The monument on the mass graves with the inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian: Here in this the Hitler murderers with their local helpers murdered in June 1941 1000 Jews, men, women, children. The wall bearing the name of Kurdirkos Naumiestis in the "Valley of the Communities" at Yad VaShem in Jerusalem.
Yad-Vashem Archives: Koniuchovsky collection 0-71, Files 149
Central Zionist Archives: 55/1701; 55/1788; 13/15/131; Z-4/2548.
Yivo NY, Lithuanian Communities Collection, Files1391, 1392
The small Lithuanian Encyclopedia (Lithuanian), Vilnius 1966-1971.
The Lithuanian Encyclopedia (Lithuanian)-Boston 1953-1965.
Lite (Yiddish), New-York 1951, volume 1 & 2.
Yahaduth Lita (Hebrew), Tel-Aviv, volumes 1-4.
Goldshtein-Golden L. Fun Kovner Ghetto biz Dakhau (Form the Kovno Ghetto till Dachau) (Yiddish), New York 1985
Gotlib, Ohalei Shem, page 126
Dos Vort (Yiddish Daily)- Kovno, 11.11.1934, 23.12.1934.
Di Yiddishe Shtime (Daily)- Kovno,17.8.1919, 26.12.1931
HaMeilitz (Hebrew)-St.Petersburg, 23.8.1880, 30.11.1880, 15.3.1881, 21.6.1881, 16.8.1881, 2.8.1881, 6.9.1881, 8.11.1881, 7.3.1882, 14.3.1882, 11.7.1882, 8.8.1882, 24.10.1882, 23.2.1883, 7.5.1883, 17.12.1883, 8.1.1884, 29.5.1884, 4.9.1885, 10.1.1887, 21.2.1887, 31.5.1888, 6.6.1889.
Folksblat (daily) (Yiddish)-Kovno, 13.4.1933, 25.5.1933, 11.8.1935. 19.8.1935, 9.9.1935, 17.9.1935, 19.9.1935, 7.6.1936.
Cohen Berl, Shtet, Shtetlach un dorfishe Yishuvim in Lite biz 1918 (Towns, small towns and rural Settlements in Lithuania till 1918) (Yiddish), New-York 1992.
Pinkas haKehiloth. Lita (Encyclopedia of the Jewish Settlements in Lithuania) (Hebrew), Editor: Dov Levin, Assistant editor: Joseph Rosin, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1996.
Masines Zudynes Lietuvoje (Mass Murder in Lithuania) (Lithuanian), 1941-1944, vol. 1 & 2, Vilnius.
The Book of Sorrow (Lithuanian, Hebrew, Yiddish, English), Vilnius 1997
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