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The Jews of Krekenava during WW2

Extract from Testimony of Chaya Levin-Binder, Holon.

At the time of the Holocaust, some 60 Jewish families lived there. (Krekenava). 

At the outbreak of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, the Jews of Krekenava tried to flee to Russia. They remembered the days of World War I when refuge was found in Russia. They were able to foretell what their fate would be at the hand of the Lithuanian nationalists who did not hide their feelings of hatred and threats of revenge if they [the Jews] remained in Krekenava.

The wagons of the Jews leaving the town formed a long line. They got as far as Panevezys where they were stopped by the Lithuanian “Activists” and were forced back to Krekenava. By the time they returned, the German army occupied the city and armed Lithuanian bands roamed freely wreaking devastation. They immediately gathered all the young men and imprisoned them in the jail next to the police station. Two local Jews, Isaac Levin and Dudu Beinish Levin, brought food for their relatives and asked the Lithuanian guards to deliver it to them. They were tormented by the guards who shot both of them on the spot. The imprisoned young men were tortured for several days and one night they were taken from the jail and divided into two groups. One group was taken to a place known as “The Priest's Fields” on the mountain, and the second to the field between the stone bridge and the Nevezis River. They were forced to dig their own graves and were shot and buried on the spot. The sound of fire was heard for a great distance and resounded in he ears of the fathers, women and children who crowded horrified in their homes unable to help.

The murderers then set their sights on the women. They gathered the attractive young Jewish women, dragged them to a cellar, where they were brutally raped and tortured to death.

A short while later some of the Jews were forced from their homes and imprisoned in the Beit Midrash. They were kept there with no food or water and their suffering knew no limit. Shmeril Levin, a brave and valiant Jew and a relative to the Levins mentioned above, approached the Lithuanian guard and asked for permission to leave the Beit Midrash. When he was refused, Levin pulled a knife and stabbed the guard.

The majority of the Jewish men were taken a few days later to the road leading to Panevezys. They were forced to gather large rocks and break them in preparation for the laying of the road. They worked for a short time and were then murdered and buried on the spot.

The women and children, along with the few remaining men, were gathered to the synagogue and a few of the surrounding houses and the area was declared a ghetto. Hungry and thirsty, they were imprisoned there until July 27, 1941, when they were told to take the few items they could carry and be ready to be transferred to a 'camp.' They were taken to field near the Pajuoste airport. They were literally thrown from the wagons that continued on loaded with their possessions. Tortured and tormented with only the clothing on their backs, starving and thirsty, these unfortunate people remained without food for a few more days until the government managed to gather to that spot all the Jews from the surrounding area. Meanwhile, the murderers were busy excavating pits. In four long and deep pits the Jews of Krekenava, along with their fellow Jews of surrounding towns and Panevezys, were murdered and buried.




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Compiled by

Alan Nathan



 (C) Alan Nathan 2016