Ramygala - a brief and tragic history
Ramygala is a small city in Lithuania located 24 km (15 mi) south of Panevezys on the
banks of the Upytė River, which is a tributary of the Nevezis
The name Ramygala literally means “quiet
It was first mentioned in the 13th century. In 1370 the place suffered from the Teutonic
Sometime before 1500 the first church was built and in 1503 the name "Ramygala" was used to refer to a town. Since
then Ramygala slowly grew. Few years later it had a manor, and at the end of the 16th century it received a
privilege to host fairs. Unlike many other towns in Lithuania, Ramygala did not belong to a noble family but rather
to Vilnius Cathedral and later to Vilnius University.
In 1580 the town was granted the right to conduct three fairs per year as well as its large
second half of the 18th century, Ramygala
was administrative center of a valscius
Until 1795 Ramygala was included in the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom. It then became part of the
Russian Empire, first in the Vilna Gubernia and from 1843 in the
During the period of independent Lithuania (1918-1940) it was a county administrative centre in the Ponevezh
After the administrative reform by the Soviet authorities in 1950, the town became a capital of raion
(Lithuanian: rajonas). In 1957 it received city rights.
In 1962 Ramygala lost the status of the capital of a raion. Now it is
a centre of an eldership
, the smallest administrative division in Lithuania. It has a small hospital and a
Jews began to settle in Ramygala as early as the end of the 16th century, according to headstones in the
In 1766 there were 225 jews living in the town. The number of Jews in the town increased during the middle of
the 19th century and by 1859 there was already a
In 1833 a fire destroyed 35 Jewish homes. About 60 families escaped in complete poverty and turned for help to
other Jewish communities in Lithuania.
This was one of many tragedies to hit the town and its people.
In 1897 the population numbered 650
During WWI, (May 1915) the Russian military rule exiled the Jews of Ramygala from
their town into the interior of Russia. After the war only two thirds of those exiled returned to the
Aliya to Israel started in 1923 and at the outbreak of the Holocaust, less than 100 Jewish families lived
A second fire in the summer of 1929 caused the destruction of 62 Jewish buildings, homes and stables. The “Linat
Zedek” (Hospice for the Poor) house, the library and its reading hall, the Beit Hamidrash and the Talmud Torah,
were also burned. Most did not have insurance and all who lived there helped.
From the middle of
the 1930's the number of Jews in the town decreased steadily. In 1939 there were 10 telephone subscribers; only one
of them was a Jew.
In 1933 the community inaugurated the new Beth Midrash that was built wher the original one
had been burnt down. There were now two Batei Midrash with regular classes.
On August 24-25 1941, (1-2 Elul, 5701), the rest of the Jews remaining in the town were led by foot towards
Panevezys and were murdered in the Pajuoste forest, about 8 kilometers east of Panevezys. The names
the Lithuanian murderers are
kept in the Yad Vashem archives
was a traditional administrative subdivision in
The term "raion" also can be used simply as a kind of administrative division without anything to do with ethnicity
or nationality. A raion is a standardized administrative entity across most of the former Soviet
and is usually a subdivision two steps below the national level. However, in smaller USSR republics, it could be
the primary level of administrative division.
Eldership is the smallest
Lithuania. An eldership could either be a very small
consisting of few
villages, one single
town, or part of a big
For more information see:- http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Pinkas_lita/lit_00640.html