During World War II and Afterwards.
The German army invaded Lithuania on the 22nd of June 1941, occupied the whole country in a matter of days, which meant that the refugees from Memel were again under Nazi rule. Their fate was similar to the fate of the Jews of the towns and cities of Lithuania where they had lived for the last two years. Only a few managed to survive those terrible times.
In 1945 Memel (Klaipeda) and its region became a part of Soviet Lithuania and Jews began to settle there again. By 1967 there were about 1,000 Jews in the city, but there was no organized community, no synagogue and no cemetery.
At the end of 1989, when Lithuania began to regain its independence, a crowd incited by Lithuanians attacked a Jewish clerk named A. Lichtenstein and anti Jewish leaflets were distributed in the city. On the 1st of January 1990 Memel's Jews numbered 681 souls out of a total population of 206,400. At that time a branch of "The Society for Jewish Culture", centered on Vilna, and a Sunday School for Jewish children where Hebrew was taught, were established in the city. But many of Memel's Jews were waiting for the opportunity to leave the country.
The old Jewish cemetery had been destroyed during Soviet rule when a radio station with high antennas was erected in this area. The purpose of this station was to disturb broadcasts from abroad and when leveling the area almost all tombstones were ruined and bones of the dead exposed on the surface. Some of the tombstones were incorporated into the huge concrete blocks which served as a base for the antennas.
(see picture below).
On the 10th of May 1991, a funeral for these bones was arranged on the initiative of the "Society for Jewish Culture", also a memorial wall was erected at the site of the old cemetery and several tombstones found at the site were fixed into this wall. The entire area of the former cemetery was converted into a park and a monument was erected with an inscription in Lithuanian, Hebrew and Yiddish saying: "In memory of the Jewish community of Klaipeda which was cruelly annihilated by the Nazis". The architect of this project was S.Manomaitis.
The Memorial wall with fragments of tombstones found on the spot incorporated into it.
A general view of the memorial site
The Lithuanian, Hebrew and Yiddish inscription reads: In memory of the Jewish community of Klaipeda which was cruelly destroyed by the Nazis.
A picture of Rabbi Yeshaia Wohlgemuth and an appreciation of his personality after his death. "The Jewish Chronicle", London, dated the 6th of January 1899.
A partial list of the men active in the Community.
Moritz Altschul - Representative of "Keren haYesod" and a member of the presidium of the Bureau of Commerce in Memel;
Leopold Alexander - Chairman of the community for 20 years;
Isidor (Asher) Hurwitz - Chairman of the community, chairman of the Zionist Organization and the patron of the "Chalutzim" in Memel, was murdered in Kretinga;
Ben-Zion Hanneman - A prominent elderly person, a pupil of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter and a distinguished scholar;
Dr.Moritz Hanneman - Head of the Zionists-Socialists, was arrested by the Germans and murdered in jail;
Eliezer Tatz - Teacher and educator, devoted Zionist activist, died in Tel-Aviv in 1945;
Yeshyahu Hanneman - One of the leaders of the religious Jews, murdered together with the Jews from Telzh;
Dr.Herman Jakobson - Chairman of the "Bar Kochva" sports club, immigrated to South-Africa;
Leon Kalenbach - Director of the Jewish Hospital and founder of "Bar-Kochva";
Avraham Meler - Representative of "Keren Kayemeth leYisrael" in Memel;
Nathan Naftal - Member of the community committee and chairman of "ORT" in Memel, Consul of Portugal, perished in Dachau;
Leon Rostovsky - Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Hospital, with his financial help a new big wing of the hospital was erected, perished in the Kovno Ghetto;
Yehoshua Rubin - Member of the community committee and an active Zionist, lived in Israel;
Yosef Shulman - Member of the community committee and the Board of Directors of the Jewish Hospital;
Leon (Aryeh) Scheinhaus - Writer and journalist, founder of the "Kiryath Sefer Society" and of the "Hebrew Speakers" Society, one of the editors of the "Memeler Dampfboot" newspaper;
David Wolfson - Herzl's successor as President of the World Zionist Organization, grew up and was educated in Memel.
Feivush Yavschitz - Member of the community committee and chairman of the Zionist organization, died in France;
Association of Jewish soldiers participants in the liberation of Lithuania. Klaipeda branch.
List of donors for the Yiddish-Lithuanian periodical "Apzvalga", the journal of this Association
Yad-Vashem archives-M-1/21-238,728; 0-4/1,51; 0-33/773,2182,2539; 0-3/1887,3578; 568; TR-2; TR-10/32.
Central Zionist Archives-Jerusalem, Z-4/2548; 13/15/131; 55/1788; 55/1701;
JIVO, Collection of Lithuanian Communities, New-York, Files 1390, 1530, 1677.
Ish Shalom, M.-Besod Chotsvim Ubonim (Hebrew), Jerusalem 1989.
Mireishith Vead Acharith (From the Beginning to the End), The book "haShomer-haTsair" in Lithuania (Hebrew), Tel-Aviv 1985.
Ruelf I.-The History of the Jews in Memel (German), 1900.
Ruelf Isaak, Meine Reise nach Kovno (German), 1869.
Sheinhaus A.L.-Iden in Memel fun Farzeiten bis jetzt (Jews in Memel from olden times till now) (Yiddish)- YIVO Archives, pages 63778-63786.
Yiddisher Lebn (Yiddish), Kovno-Telsh, 25.1.1924; 26.8.1938.
Amerikaner (Yiddish) New-York, 13.9.1939.
Bulletin of Yita-8.3.1935; 8.4.1935.
Bemisholei Hachinuch (Hebrew), Kovno Nr. 5-6, December 1937.
Dos Vort - daily newspaper in Yiddish of the Z"S party, Kovno 4.3.1935;6.12.1935.
Di Yiddishe Shtime - daily newspaper in Yiddish of the General Zionists-Kovno,
26.2.1928; 22.10.1928; 24.2.1931; 26.5.1936; 25.8.1936; 5.10.1936; 5.5.1937; 6.5.1937; 9.5.1937; 26.5.1937; 15.6.1937; 10.11.1937; 6.7.1939.
Di Zeit (Yiddish) Kovno, 4.12.1933.
Hadoar (Hebrew) New-York, 11 Nissan 5699.
Hameilitz, Odesa-St.Petersburg, (Hebrew), 30.5.1867; 4.5.1880; 26.10.1880; 22.2.1881; 28.6.1881; 4.10.1881; 6.6.1882; 18.9.1885; 5.10.1885; 15.9.1886; 28.2.1893; 2.12.1895; 30.12.1896.
Vegveizer (Yiddish) Pitsburg, 19.4.1940.
Yerushalaim D'Lita (Yiddish) Vilna, Nr. 2, December 1989.
Volksblat - daily newspaper of the Volkists, Kovno (Yiddish), 21.4.1933; 17.1.1934; 21.5.1936; 14.8.1936; 30.3.1937; 10.11.1938; 24.11.1938; 27.11.1938; 28.11.1938; 2.3.1939; 26.3.1939; 7.5.1939; 4.7.1939; 6.9.1939; 28.11.1939.
The small Lithuanian Encyclopedia, Vilnius 1966-1971 (Lithuanian), pages 150-152.
The Lithuanians Encyclopedia, Boston 1953-1965 (Lithuanian), pages 19-24.
Lite, New-York 1951, volume 1 & 2 (Yiddish).
Yahaduth Lita, (Hebrew) Tel-Aviv, volumes 1-4.
Pinkas Hakehiloth. Lita (Encyclopedia of the Jewish Settlements in Lithuania) (Hebrew), Editor: Dov Levin, Yad Vashem. Jerusalem 1996.
Volkshtime (Yiddish), Warsaw, 18.3.1964.
Aufbau (German) New-York, 18.5.1984.
Mazoji Lietuva (Lithuanian) Klaipeda, 8.5.1991.
Vakaru Ekspresas (Lithuanian) Klaipeda,19.2.1991; 21.3.1991; 7.5.1991.
The Book of Sorrow, Vilnius 1997 (Yiddish, Hebrew, Lithuanian, English).
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