Go Back

Killings in Linkuva


LINKUVA

(Siauliai region) commonly known as Shavel or Shavli in Yiddish and Russian

PART I

Linkuva lies close to the Musa River, neighbouring towns and villages are Pakroujis (15 km), Joniskelis (14 km), Pasvitinys (15 km) Vaskai (18 km.) Zeimilis (21 km), Pasvalys (30 km.)

The Jewish settlement of Pamosa was about 5 km away. Knowledge of the town dates back to the 16th century and until the 1st World War there was no road or railway line. In 1915 the Germans laid a narrow railway line close to the town and the area started to develop.

In 1924 the town became famous because of a blood-libel of 300 families who mainly made a living from the Flax Industry, Craftmanship and cultivation of small-holdings. Market days were on Mondays and Fridays and there was an annual Fair lasting for 8 days from the 15th - 23rd July. There also existed a large Flour Mill operated and owned by Jews and there were 167 depositors of the Jewish National Bank of Lithuania.

In 1883 a serious fire raged through the town and the wooden synagogue was razed to the ground. But one Bet Midrash and a Kloze (Prayer and Study room) remained in use.

In spite of the economic failure the spiritual life of the people was excellent. Love of the Torah and Zionist stimulation affected the younger generation. The youth were organised into two movements "The Young Pioneers" and "Gordonia" which were extremely active in educational activities.

Of the Rabbis were Rav Joel Itzhak Katzenellenbogen author of the books "The Seeds of Itzhak, "Questions and Answers" etc. The author Rav Tzvi-Hirsch Ha'Cohen Rabinowitz and his father Rav Meir Ha'cohen Rabinowitz,. Rav Tanchum Shraga Reibel, Rav Tzvi Ha'Levi Levitas, Rav Nathan Rachmiel Litvin (may his blood be avenged) and the last one was Rav Yekutiel-Zalman Levitas (may his blood be avenged).

Of its native born were Rav Yehezkiel ben Rav Joel Itzhak Katzenellenbogen (Rabbi of Seirijai and Sirvintos), Rov Dov Reibel, Rav Israel Hillel Ben Rav Haim Kaplinsky (rnassacred at Hebron in 1929), Rav Hairn-Zev-Wolf.-Kreiger and the author Tzvi Hirsch Rabinowitz.

PART II

By 1923 there were only 625 Jews residing in the town. On the second day of the German invasion and the withdrawal of the Soviet Forces the Jews of Linkuva also attempted to flee eastwards.

On this day the Lithuanian activists were already on the move their first objective being the murder of Jews. They laid ambushes for the fleeing Jews, and the first ones murdered by these ambushes were Leizer Schlossberg and his 19 year old son Abraham. These were the last two who were buried at the official Jewish "Israel' Cemetery of Linkuva.

On the Tuesday as the Red Army retreated) through the town, Jews fleeing eastwards from Siauliai and its surroundings also arrived in Linkuva. Jews from Pasvitinys also fled through the town and many remained and many Jews also took refuge in the Jewish village of Pamosa.

Thus by the time the Germans entered the town there were already in excess of 1,000 Jews in Linkuva.

On the 29th on official orders from the Germans, the Lithuanian Activists rounded up the
Jews and gathered them at the re-organised Police Station. The Lithuanians themselves
took the initiative to be responsible for the handling of the Jews. The Police Commander was Sintauris, previously a Lithuanian Border Guard Officer.

Also amongst the first activists was the priest Biliatzkaus and many other respected Lithuanians. The Jews who had coIlected at the police station were locked up at the stable
of Itzhak Kapuler and in the storerooms of Aba Kahn, Saul Giresh and Leib Bar. There they were cruelly tortured. The beards of the respected Jews of the town were cut off and for many days in the hot days of early July they were left without food or water.

On the 30th June (Daylight of the 5th Tammuz) ten young Jews aged between 18 -20 were selected and taken out by the Lithuanians, who later boasted how they had been taken to a sandpit not far from the Catholic cemetery and there shot and killed. Only one Aharon Kahn 18 years old managed to survive and escape. For 6 months he wandered and hid in many places but in the end be was caught and murdered by his classmates of the Lithuanian High School of Linkuva.

The day after the 9 young men were taken the Lithuanian activists gathered the adult and aged Jews at the Atkotzyunai forest close to the Musa River about 3 km's from Linkuva and there systematically murdered them.

On Wednesday 2nd July, according to an official list they gathered 125 persons, men women and children, Linkuva residents and others who bad sought refuge there, loaded them on 4 transport trucks and taken to the jail at Siauliai

The women and children were immediately released and the remaining 57 men were imprisoned in one narrow small room.

A second group who were taken from Linkuva on the same day were taken by horse drawn
wagons but did not arrive at Siauliai as they were brutally murdered at the hands of the wild
Lithuanian mob. Amongst the murdered on the road was the Rav Dov-Bar-Dodman of Pasvitinys together with all of his sons.

The women and children who had been released at the jail did not succeed in finding refuge tn Siauliai and returned to Linkuva. Manyof them were murdered en route particularly as they passed through the town of Pakruojis, by the action group against Jews together with Jews of Pakruojis.

The survivors were herded into and imprisoned in the cow sheds of the estate of David Davidson. These were the remainder of the Jews of Linkuva together with all the other populations.

On the 23rd July (28th Tamuz) came the premature death of the Jews of Linkuva. It was
the last day of the holy Lithuanian holiday of "Haskaipliyrina. The customary glorification
of the Catholic province of Lunkuva. (should this be Linkuva?)

On this day they brought out all the remaining Jews numbering about 700 to the Atkotzyunai forest and there they opened fire on them until 1pm. These murders were the special activities of the following Lithuanians - the 3 sons of the chemist Jasutkaitls, Sintauris Januskaism and Simonatas, the brothers Jonais and Popilais Stumbris, and the brothers Tarashka, Jasaivitzios and others.

At the time of the German retreat in 1944 all these murderers, fearing retribution at the hands of the Jews in the Lithuan division of the Red Army, left together with the Germans. Afterwards they found refuge in the British and American Zones of conquered Germany.
The fate of the 57 left imprisoned crushed like sardines in the narrow small cell at Siauliai prison in the hot summer without food or water was as follows. 30 of the strongest were chosen and taken out day after day to the Kuziai forest 15 km from Siauliai where they were
forced to dig long deep channels to be used as a massive common grave of the Jews of Siauliai and surrounding area. The other 27 prisoners were then removed and murdered
together with the Jews of Siauliai and surrounding areas on the 10th July 1941.

The 30 strongest Jews of Linkuva originally employed in the digging of the trenches were
removed to the already prepared Siauliai ghetto together with 150 other Jews. These 30 were handled more brutally than the others and as each one was recognised by the Lithuanian activists of Linkuva, they were taken out for immediate execution.

The remainder met the fate of the other local Jews. They were sent to Concentration Camps in Germany. At the beginning of May 1945, when liberated by the American Armed Forces there were only 4 survivors from Linkuva.

On the official lists of Common Graves in the book "The Massacres of Lithuania" Part II, the graves of Linkuva and area are as follows:-

1) Mount Jorgaitzai 3 k's north east of Linkuva 3/7/41 32 Men and Women

2) Dovariukai forest 4 k's north east of Linkuva 7/8/41 200 Men

3) Vaslkishka forest (Atkotzyunai) 5 k's south east of Linkuva, close to the village of Vaslkiskiai 5/8/41 300 Women and Children.

Sources: The witnesses Leib Kahn and Yocheved Bar Cohen of Jerusalem, The book "Collections of Lithuania" part I, page 1860 by Aharon Kretzrner, "Notes from SiauIiai' by A. Yerushalmi. Translated by Joe Woolf

[Table of Contents] [Background - Journey to Linkova] [The Journey to Linkuva] [Photograph Gallery - Linkuva, Lithuania] [Maps of Lithuania] [Blumsohn tree] [Linkuva Directory] [Linkuva and Holocaust Resources] [Audio testimony - Murder in Linkuva]


© Copyright AB 2000

Webmaster: Contact Us