Rumsiskes (Rumshishok in Jewish sources)

A town in the district of Kaunas, south central Lithuania.

Rumsiskes lies between forests close to the Nieman river, about 19 kilometers southwest of Kaunas.

Before World War I there were more than 100 Jewish families in the Town. In 1915, during the war, the Russians expelled the Jews from The town and only half of them returned afterwards. There was a study-house, two heders (schools) and during the period of independent Lithuania between the two world wars a Hebrew school of the "tarbut" network. The community had charitable institutions and free-loan societies. Rabbis officiated in the town continually. The last rabbi to serve in Rumsiskes was rabbi Grazovsky.

The local Jews earned their living from the trade in lumber and agricultural produce. There were several craftsmen. The match factory, saw mill and flour mills were owned by Jews. Another source of income came from the Jewish vacationers in the summer time who wanted to enjoy the forest air.

On the eve of World War II there were close to 300 Jews in the town.


The Holocaust Period

After World War II broke out (Sept. 1, 1939) and Germany occupied Poland, Lithuania came under Soviet rule and was annexed to the Soviet Union at the end of the summer of 1940.

At the end of June 1941 the whole of Lithuania was occupied by the Germans, following the German invasion that had begun on June 22, 1941. Lithuanian nationalists aided the Germans and operated a concentration camp in Praveniskis about five kilometers north Rumsiskes. The Lithuanians imprisoned in it Jews who had been arrested on the roads when they attempted to escape from the raging battles.

We have no information about the fate of the Jews in the town during the German occupation. According to the documents pertaining to the Jews of Lithuania, the Jews of the town were killed by the Germans and the Lithuanian collaborators between the end of July and the beginning of September 1941. On Sept.2, 1941 the Jewish community of Rumsiskes ceased to exist.

Jewish slave laborers were kept in the concentration camp in Praveniskis as long as they were considered useful to the Germans. In the spring of 1944 the last of the Jewish prisoners in the camp were murdered.


Beth Hatefutsoth
The Nahum Goldmann
Museum of the Jewish Diaspora