Operation Barbarossa Before the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 (code named Operation Barbarossa), the Jewish population of Anykščiai stood at 2,000. The first few days of the invasion passed relatively quietly in Anykščiai despite the fact that the population had grown due to an influx of Jews fleeing from Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Latvia. In the beginning, the local authorities succeeded in reassuring the population and preventing panic. But just two days later, on 24 June 1941, the General Secretary of the Communist Party and the local authorities fled Anykščiai. However, on the first day of the Lithuanian invasion, Anykščiai already had its first Jewish victim. A young woman (Freida Rapaport, age 10?), daughter of Meir Rapaport, had been to an exhibition in the neighboring town of Kurkliai. As she set out for home on her bicycle, she stopped at the farm of Listzias, an acquaintance of her family, for a drink of water. The farmer and his son forced her into the granary where they raped and murdered her, throwing her body into the Sventoji River that flowed passed their farm. Some days later her body was found on the banks of the river and the son of Listzias was seen riding her bicycle. The Germans arrived in Anykščiai on 27 June 1941, causing great fear and panic among the Jews. As in other parts of Utena District, a partisan squad of "white-bands," composed of several dozen Lithuanian men who had allied themselves with the Germans, was formed during the first days of the occupation. Almost immediately they assisted in the arrest and massacre of the remaining communists and Jews from other districts who had sought refuge in Anykščiai, or were passing through as they were fleeing eastward to the Soviet Union. But the speed of the German Blitzkrieg overtook them before they could make their escape. The stranded refugees were imprisoned in the jail on Sakumian (Skemoniu gatve?) Street, as were many local Jews, especially the intelligentsia and suspected communists and supporters of the Soviet regime.  One of the prisoners, Beinish Stemler the shoemaker, hung himself.   Gangs of Lithuanians broke into Jewish homes and plundered from everyone who lived nearby. Families with teenage daughters were especially vulnerable. Members of these families were murdered and their household goods and valuables stolen. The cruelty shown to the imprisoned Jews was reported by the Lithuanian witness Butanas. Amongst other information, he said that he tried unsuccessfully to evade the Germans but was forced to return to Anykščiai. In early July he was arrested by the white-bands at the entrance to the town and imprisoned. As they brought him to the jail, two Jews were being brought out. One of them was Zalman Watt, the second one Butanas could not remember. Butanas and the two Jews were lined up one in front of the other with Zalman Watt at the front and Butanas at the rear. Auxiliary policeman Balis Kutzaiskas declared that it was a pity to waste three bullets on the "gift from God," one communist and two Jews. He said that one bullet would be enough and fired his rifle. Zalman Watt, the first in line, fell dead, but the bullet did not reach the second Jew or Butanas. When Kutzaiskas saw that they were still alive, he scorched [?] Butanas on the face and he fell. From where he lay, Butanas saw the policeman order the second Jew to sit on the body of Zalman Watt. As the Jew was bending to sit as instructed, Kutzaiskas hit him in the face with the rifle butt and knock out all his teeth. Move to Utena After a short while the vast majority of the prisoners in Anykščiai were moved to Utena where they met their fate. On the day after their imprisonment, thirteen of them were thrown into the square in front of the old Beit Hamidrash and were murdered by gunfire, then buried. Before they were executed, Mendel Rabinowitz, a shoemaker, aged 50, managed to throw some heavy objects at the Germans and their Lithuanian helpers. Their rifle fire cut off his shouts and curses. Among the murdered was Mordechai the Boilermaker (Motke der Tefer), one of the veterans of the volunteer town fire brigade. He shouted for help to his comrades and friends, the Lithuanian firemen who were among those shooting. His "friends" ignored his cries. One of them, by whose hands their veteran comrade met his death, left the square. Among the other victims were the local doctor Noah Ginsburg and his dentist wife Freda, and the chemist Diamant  and his wife. Dr. Ginsburg was well accepted by the Lithuanians of the area, and he often charged no fees for his services. He cried out for mercy for himself and his wife to one of his patients whom he had treated out of charity, but this man shot the doctor behind his ear to hasten his death.   Post Invasion Two weeks after the invasion the remaining Jews were forced to abandon their homes and occupy the Beit Hamidrash and its courtyard (the Shulhof square). The remaining Jews were squeezed together in overcrowded conditions outside the ghetto, Many of them left the town and sought refuge with farmer friends until the fury subsided. But very few succeeded. Almost all had to return. One day three SS officers arrived to visit one of the last old Jews of the Beit Hamidrash, Reb Shmuel Kalverson. He stood up to greet them and said, "guten morgen" (good morning). This insulted one of the officers who aimed his pistol at this old Jew's head and shot him. One evening a gang of Lithuanians came, chose some beautiful young girls, and forced them out into the square, where they molested and raped them. After a short while the Jews were taken completely out of the town to the nearby Bashiliaks Forest. They were not allowed to stay at the nearby holiday camp and were held outdoors for a number of weeks in the rain and chill of the nights. Many got sick and some died.   From there the adult males and also the young women were taken out each day on forced labor. Farmers under special license could place an order for Jewish slave farm labor. This farm work saved a number of Jews who managed to get out into the villages. Two brothers, Feitel and Isiah Leib Feldman, together with all the members of their households, moved over to an acquaintance, Sakrauonas, owner of an underwear factory in a village close to Anykščiai. After a number of days Sakrauonas told them that the commandant had insisted that he personally return them to the town. On the way back as they passed through a forest close to the road, Sakrauonas opened fire on them, killing all, and kept their belongings. Rabbit Hills (Haaznanberg) At the end of July 1941, the authorities returned all the Jewish farm laborers to the town. They also gathered all the Jews from the surrounding villages. On 28 July the Lithuanians, under the scrutiny of the Germans, separated the males and marched them group after group in the direction of Sakmnian (Skimian/Skiemonys ?). Told that they were being taken to a work camp where their families would shortly join them, they were in fact brought to a sand hill called "Rabbit Hills" (Haaznanberg), a few kilometers from Anykščiai. There they were tied together to await their fate.   Upon their arrival, a number of the strongest males were given hoes and forced to dig a large pit. The rest were made to participate in various physical exercises, obviously to weaken them, which made it easier for their guards to mistreat and humiliate them. Amongst those made to do the exercises was the rabbi of the town, Rabbi Kalman Yitzhak Kadeshewitz, famous author and known as the Tzadik of Leitova. With talis and tefillin he was taken out among the first, and remained holy and pure until the last moments.    Lithuanians from the area who observed the spectacle related their shock and amazement. On that day, the rest of the male Jews were put to death on the edge of the pit and thrown into it. The slightly wounded and those not injured at all were also thrown in and buried alive. A month later, the women, children and elderly were brought to the same spot and executed at the edge of the pit. A woman, Sarah Schneider, daughter of Hesel Kab, stood with her two small children and cursed the Lithuanians for the brutal murders. They immediately shot her and threw her and her children into the pit.     According to the book, The Popular Massacres of Lithuania, Part II, this took place on 29 August 1941. The pits were not covered properly, and after a time the winds and rains washed away the thin overlay of sand, exposing the mass graves and the bodies of the victims within. Those active in carrying out the massacres in Anykščiai at the Synagogue Square were: Jonikas, son of the farmer Aizdonas; Mishkinos, the adopted son of the operator of the Jewish public baths; Beinorios, son of the midwife Baltreilas; etc. All of them were local residents. To assist them, there was also a group of Lithuanian activists who had come from Siauliai and who on their return to Siauliai boasted in front of other Lithuanians that they had returned from their mission of massacre in Anykščiai, and that they were also very busy in the manufacture of Jewish wine. Anykščiai was well known in Lithuania for the manufacture of wine made from various fruits.   The lists of mass graves in the book The Popular Massacres of Lithuania, Part II, give the following wording on the monument for the mass graves of Anykščiai: Sources Yerushalmi, Eliezer. The Shauli Notebook. Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1958. p. 369/29.   The Popular Massacres of Lithuania, Part II. Vilnius, 1973. Lithuanian Jewry, Volume III: Part A - Personalities. Part B - Places. Tel Aviv: Association of Former Lithuanians in Israel, established by Abraham Dov Abrams and Former Lithuanians in Philadelphia and Israel, 1967. pp. 289-290. Lithuanian Jewry, Volume IV: The Holocaust 1941-1945. Tel Aviv: Association of Former Lithuanians in Israel, 1984. pp. 347-348. Victims from Anykščiai Below is a set of links to the list of known Shoah Victims from Anykščiai, or with ties to Anykščiai. About the List This list is broken down into several web pages alphabetically by surname of the Victim. It is far from complete and represents only a small fraction of the Jews with ties to Anykščiai who died at the hands of the Nazis or their accomplices. Obtaining More Detail To view a Page of Testimony, or other information that may currently be available in the database for any Victim on the list, click on this link to Yad Vashem's The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, then type in the Victim's name and location information in the appropriate fields, as it appears on the list. Multiple Entries? As you scroll through the lists of Victims, you will notice that a number of them have more than one entry. This is because a number of survivors, relatives, former neighbors and friends may have independently submitted Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem for the same Victim. Additionally, some informants may have inadvertently submitted duplicate Pages of Testimony over a span of years.  Unidentified Victim? Undoubtedly, there are a great many more Anykščiai victims than are enumerated here. If you know of any other Anikshters, help us commemorate their lives and honor their memory by submitting Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victim's Names. Instructions for doing so can be found  here. And, please, be sure to notify either moderator so that we can add your victim name(s) to our list.   For More Information Yad Vashem Pages of Testimony Millions more Shoah Victims still remain unidentified. It is our collective duty to persist until all their names have been recovered. Do you know of a Holocaust Victim? Submit Pages of Testimony and send photographs of the victims, if available, so that they will always be remembered. Instructions are provided at the Yad Vashem website. Contribute to the Database Yad Vashem and its partners have collected and recorded the names and some biographical details on half of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices. After reviewing Yad Vashem's online Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, an alphabetical list was prepared of martyred Jews who had ties to Anykščiai. Research Yad Vashem Anykščiai during the Holocaust - #1 Holocaust Place - at the foot of the Tel (archaeological dig) Liaudishkim, one kilometre from Anykščiai, 300 metres to the right of the road from Anykščiai to Sakaimian (Skimian-?). Date - 29 August 1941. Number who perished - about 1500.