The ITING Family from Mazeikiai

by Ilan Ganot

This work is dedicated to the loving memory of my father Moshe Iting z”l (1918-2004) who inspired me to research his roots, and in memory of my grandparents Eliyahu Faive and Rashe Iting hy”d (murdered in Mazeikiai August 1941), and my uncle Dov-Berl Iting z”l (fell in action while serving with the 16th Lithuanian Division during WW II).

Introduction - The Origins of the ITING Family

According to Historical and family sources it is assumed that the roots of the ITING family are from the small town of OETTINGEN in Bavaria, Germany. [1] [2]

According to various bibliographical resources the OETTIGEN / ITINGIN family was a Levite family. It was related by marriage to the family of the Baron Shimon Guenzburg (1506-1586).[3]

Difficult living conditions during the 17th-18th centuries due to oppression by the authorities, high taxes and/or the poor economical situation, forced the family to emigrate from Oettingen to elsewhere. Branches of the OETTIGEN / OETTINGER / ETTINGER / ITINGIN / ETTINGA / ETTING / ITING family (and other variants) were scattered over Europe (Poland, Galicia, Russia, Lithuania etc.) and even emigrated as far as to the USA.  [4] [5]

Details on distinguished members of the ITINGA Rabbinic dynasty, who settled in Galicia and Poland, can be found in literature. [6]

The ITING Family - Early Years

It is unknown when and how the first ITING family members came to northern Lithuania and settled there. Furthermore, since the missing link has not been found yet, it is not certain beyond any doubt that the ITING family from Lithuania is indeed related to the ITINGIN family from Oettingen.

The earliest records about this family can be found at the Kaunas Regional Archives. [7]

These records have been indexed and are presently available for review at the All Lithuanian Database (ALD) of the LitvakSIG site of the JewishGen.[8]

According to these early records, the family lived during the 18th century until the First World War in Zidikai, a small Shtetl (village) close to the Latvian border, in the vicinity of Mazeikiai. Earliest recorded person was Girsh (Hirsch) ITING (died before 1842). His son Gershon ITING had two known sons: Yitzchak (Itsyk) ITING (1847-1915) and Girsh (Hirsch) ITING (1842-?).

My grandfather, Eliyahu-Faivel ITING (born about 1880), was born to his parents, Golde-Toibe (nee TUCH) and Yitzhak ITING. He was married to my grandmother, Rashe-Chane ITING (nee KURS, born about 1886), daughter of Shlomo and Dobe-Mira KURS from Ylakiai. Both the ITING and TUCH families lived in Zidikai.

Eliyahu-Faivel and Rashe-Chane ITING were married in the second part of the first decade of 1900’s and settled during the first years in Zidikai.

At a certain time, Eliyahu-Faivel and Rashe-Chane ITING left Zidikai and settled in Mazeikiai.

Their elder son was Shlomo ITING, born in 1910. Three years later, in 1913, the second son, Dov-BerI ITING was born.

My father, Moshe-Yaakov, was born neither in Mazeikiai nor Zidikai, or anywhere else in Lithuania. In May 1915, during the course of the First World War, the Russians expelled the ITING family from Lithuania, together with most of the Lithuanian Jewry.[9] [10]

The family was expelled to Kremenchug in south Ukraine, where they spent the last years of the First World War in poverty and hard living conditions. In 1918, after the First World War was over, Jews began to return to Lithuania. When the ITINGs were taking their first steps on the long road back to Lithuania, the process of my father Moshe’s birth began.

According to my father's story the family had to leave the train at the Bachmut railway station, where my father was finally born. Some time later, when baby Moshe and his mother recovered from the birth, they finally took the train home to Lithuania.

The ITING Family In Mazeikiai

In the beginning the ITING family lived in a rented apartment in (no. 8 ?) Paganeno Gatvia (=street). Later they moved to a wooden house of their own in no.5 Vytautas Street, adjacent to the railway tracks, close to a local forest.

 



Figure 1: Partial maps of Mazeikiai dated 2003 (left) and 1918 (right). Vytautas Street can be seen in both maps, between the railway tracks, right to the splitting point.[11]  (Maps courtesy B. Kahana)

Father Eliyahu-Faivel earned his living as a shoemaker. His small “workshop” was located in a corner of the living room.

In addition the family kept some livestock for their own needs: a cow, some chickens and some geese – they also grew some vegetables, potatoes and fodder for the livestock.

 

Figure 2: An original wooden house at no. 3 Vytautas Str. (picture courtesy B. Kahana, 2003)

 

Figure 3: Contemporary house built on the ruins of the original wooden house of the ITING family at no. 5 Vytautas Str. (Picture courtesy B. Kahana, 2003)

As most of the Jewish boys of his age, little Moshe went to the Cheder and studied reading and writing, as well as religious studies in the traditional way ("Kometz Aleph=Ahhh”).

Ita, the only daughter and last child of Eliyahu and Rashe ITING was born in 1924.

The children were raised in rural surroundings and enjoyed playing close to nature in the nearby forest and at the Venta River, whose waters would freeze during the cold winters.

Figure 4: Children of the ITING family, mid 1920's. From left to right: Moshe, Shlomo (rear), Ita (front) and Dov-Berl

The 1920's were over, clearing the way to the 1930's. Shlomo, the elder brother, began to seek his way in life. He used to play football with the local Jewish Maccabi team. He was a member of the Ha’Shomer Ha’Tzair youth movement. Once he was involved in an anti-Semitic incident with drunken gentiles who threatened to beat the local Rabbi. Shlomo intervened, protected the Rabbi and this way saved his life.

The parents had educated their children in a Zionist spirit, and thus Shlomo, after coming to the conclusion that he didn’t see his future in Lithuania, went to a Zionist "Hachshara" (training) and in about 1933 or 1934 made Aliyah and immigrated to (then) Palestine - Eretz-lsrael.

In the beginning, life for Shlomo in Eretz-Israel was very hard: unemployment was widespread, hunger and diseases raged. Through sheer despair Shlomo wrote to his parents, that due to his hard situation he was considering returning to Lithuania. It was the period after the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany and its influence on all surrounding countries, including Lithuania, was clearly felt. Clouds of war were beginning to accumulate over Europe. With a prophetic maternal sense, mother Rashe visioned the forthcoming disaster and wrote to Shlomo: “There is no way back! I am sending your brother Moshe to join you".

Following a period of "Hachshara" (training) in He’Chalutz camp in Kaunas, and in a Kibbutz in Telsiai, Moshe made Aliyah in 1936 and joined his brother Shlomo in Eretz-Israel.

Last Years In Mazeikiai - The Holocaust

The parents Eliyahu and Rashe and their children Dov-Berl and Ita stayed behind in Mazeikiai.

Figure 5: Picture of the remaining ITINGs in Mazeikiai, Assumed date: late 1930's -early 1940's. From left to right: Ita, Dov-Berl, Rashe and Eliyahu ITING

The years went by and on the 1st day of September 1939 the Second World War broke out. In summer of 1941 the Germans invaded Lithuania and completed taking control over the whole country in a matter of days. The local anti-Semitic Lithuanians took advantage of the chaotic situation, and began to act even before the Nazis began to operate their systematic death system. [12]

This way Eliyahu-Faivel and Rashe ITING found their death at the hands of Lithuanian murderers on 3rd and 9th August 1941, respectively. Their remains are supposedly buried in a mass grave close to the old Jewish Cemetery.


Figure 6: Holocaust victims’ memorial at the mass grave (picture courtesy R. Ravinsky, 2000)

The two children, Dov-Berl and Ita, escaped from Mazeikiai eastwards into Russia.

They were drafted into the Red Army and served with the 16th Lithuanian Division (aka "The Jewish Division" due to the relatively high percentage of Jewish soldiers). Dov-Berl fell in action, and Ita served as a military medic, or practical nurse, taking part in nursing the many soldiers wounded in battle.[13]

In the meanwhile Shlomo and Moshe were facing the many difficulties in Eretz-lsrael during the hard times of the British Mandate, the many conflicts with the Arabs, the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel. They took part in many of the historical events that lead to independence. Both of them were married during the 1940's, gave birth to children and lived to see grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Ita married, moved to Poland within the repatriation and made Aliyah in 1959. She has one child and grandchildren.

Shlomo, Moshe and Ita died in 1996, 2004 and 2006 respectively.

 

 

Written by Ilan Eliyahu GANOT (formerly ITING),

Son of Moshe Iting z”l

Holon, Israel, July 2004

Email: iganot@alumni.technion.ac.il  

(Updated Feb. 2006)

 

 



[1] A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire by A. Beider, Avothaynu, NJ 1993, p. 201

[2] Jewish Encyclopedia: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=509&letter=E

[3] Toldot Mishpachat Guenzburg (The History of the Guenzburg Family) by David Magid, St. Petersburg 1899. History of the Oettingen family (Appendix to book) and Family Tree (p. 150)

[4] Le’Toldot Ha’Kehillot Be’Polin (The History of Jewish Communities in Poland) by Zvi Ha’Levi Ish- Horowitz, Mossad Ha’Rav Kook, Jerusalem 1978 (note 31, pp 71-80)

[5] H. Oettinger, “Where does our Family Name Oettinger come from?”, private research work.

 Available at the Leo Baeck Institute in NY.

[6] Meorei Galicia by R' Meir Wunder, Jerusalem 1978, Vol. A, pp. 119-132

[7] Kaunas Regional Archives Ref. KRA I-49/1, I-106/1.

[8] All Lithuanian (ALD) website: www.jewishgen.org/litvak/all.htm

[9] See "The Expulsion of the Lithuanian Jews during the Fervor of the First World War' (1914-1918) by Louis Stein. The article is included in the Book  "Lite", http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/lita/Lit0089.html

[10] See also: The Expulsion of the Jews from Lithuania in the Spring of 1915, by Anatolij Chayesh, St. Petersburg, http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak/HTML/OnlineJournals/expulsion.htm

[11] See full maps on http://www.mazeikiaishtetl.com (select “Geography” at the main menu).

[12] Further reading about the Holocaust in Mazeikiai can be found at: www.mazeikiaishtetl.com

[13] Further details about the 16th Lithuanian Division, and specifically about Ita Iting (Pliner) is included in the book Ha’Derech El Ha’Nitzachon (The Road to Victory), Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division, by The Association of The Lithuanian Jews in Israel, Tel-Aviv, 1999 (Hebrew version).