From article written in 1993 by Joe Woolf of Moshav Ilaniya, Israel, which appeared in Moreshet, the publication of the Galil Genealogical Society, Israel, about his 1992 trip to Seta. Joe was one of the earliest visitors to Lithuania and the Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius after the fall of the iron curtain.
The shtetl Shatt is my birthplace. Throughout my life, the word "Seta" was always there, family and friends were always "Shater".
Some years ago, just before communism collapsed, I obtained a few volumes on Lithuanian Jewry from the Association of Lithuanian Jewry in Tel Aviv. From these books I learned the fate of my village. At the beginning of WWII, my paternal grandparents, many uncles, aunts and cousins were in Seta, none ever heard of again. It was therefore natural, when the "gates" opened up, that I wanted to visit my shtetl, and so I began to make plans. The best time to travel is during the summer months, particularly in June, when daylight lasts until 11 p.m.
I left with the now direct flight of Lithuanian Airlines to Vilnius. Though my pilgrimage could have been completed within a few days, I decided to tour as much as possible, visiting places where family and friends have their roots. The only area I was unable to reach was the Northwest: Papile, Plunge, Telsiai and Salant. Encircling Kovno (where I resided) would have required a hotel stop-over in Shavel, Palanga or Klaipeda. My host (and personal guide) refused to do this for fear of having his son-in-law's new car stolen. With the increase of poverty, crime has increased everywhere.
Towns and villages, graves and monuments that I did visit included Kovno, Vilna, Keidan, Jonava, Joniskis, Vilkomir, Anyksiai, Trakiai, Seta, Zeimiai, Meskuiciai, Ramygola, Krekenava, Seduva, Linkuva, Pasvitinys, Pakruojis, Raguva, Moletiai, Inturke, Dusetos, Gruzdiai, Kuziai, Obeliai, Rokiskis, and the Ponary Forest.
The State Archives (10 Geriosios Vilties Street, Vilnius, 2015) is missing records in many of their files and so it is necessary to check records of a wider geographical area. Photocopies are available by mail. Staff will look up the information requested, advise you of the fee and bank account number to arrange payment and send you the information found. For use of the facilities and staff, I was charged $25.00 a day [Note: for current archival fees and procedures please check the LitvakSIG FAQ's].
My pilgrimage was definitely worthwhile, informative and emotionally
satisfying. My research brought me to strange corners and the journey proved my host Simeon, to be an excellent guide. I do not recommend that anyone tour Lithuania on their own, without a guide and translator. I will be very happy to share the knowledge I gained.