- A Week In Lithuania - Aug. 2009

Introduction     Background    Machtas     Kaunas    Vilnius     Lietuva



The Language

Lithuania - History

Vilnius - History

Kaunas - History

The Jews - Lithuania

The Jews - Kaunas

The Jews-Lithuania-Vitautas-golden age-Russian Empire-Tsar Liberator-Haskala-
first Republic-autonomy-Jewish minister-government-parliament-Zionism-Hebrew-Yiddish-
Jewish school-synagogue 
ליטא-היהודים-תור הזהב-האימפריה הרוסית-ההשכלה-ציונות-יידיש-עברית-השואה-גטאות-ההשמדה-פונאר-עצמאות-בית ספר יהודי-בית כנסת  The Jews - Lithuania

The first Jews were firmly
settled in Lithuania
In the 14th century and even before.
The reign of Grand Duke Vitautas
is considered to be the golden age
of the then Jewish community
of several thousands
as they were free
and even protected citizens.

When Lithuania became a part
of the Russian Empire
their condition much worsened
as they were restricted
in many areas and
they could only settled
in a few places.
When the "Tsar Liberator"
came to power in 1855
they regain though several
of their former rights .
A new movement , the "Haskala"
started to prevail.

A lot of Jews took part
in the fight for Independence.
When the first Republic was founded
they gained several rights
that can be described
as national and cultural autonomy.
The around 150,000 Jews were now
more than 7% of the population.
The office of Jewish Affair
headed by a Jewish minister
was established as well
as the national Council of the Jews.
They were represented in government
as well as in the parliament.
as the coup of 1926 changed
the political landscape in general
the rights of the Jewish community
were now more restricted.
A new movement though
started to flourish , Zionism.
The community was now divided
by a few parties and youth movements.
The dominating language was Yiddish
while in many schools
the many Jewish children
studied in Hebrew as well.

The Russian invasion of 1940
changed it all.
Vilnius was now again
a part of Lithuania.
As a result the Jewish population
was now about a quarter of a million.
Around tenth of the entire population.
The Soviet though banned
all Jewish cultural activity.
It was getting much worse a year later.
When the Germans took power
in the summer of 1941
the extermination of almost
an entire community began.
At first the Jews were concentrated
in several ghettos.
They were not allowed to intervene
with the general public.
The Jews in the Vilnius ghetto
and others insisted on preserving
cultural life such as theatre.
All in all more than 90%
of Lithuanian Jews
were killed in the Holoucast
in Lithuania itself.
The Germans together with
their many local supporters
carried out many mass murders
all over the place.
The one in the wood of Ponar
is a notable one.

for more on that click here

The Jewish community
of communist Lithuania
was a very small one
and restricted as well.
It was only after
the second independence of 1991
that the Jews again
could become free citizens.
Although the community
of several thouthands people
located mainly in Vilnius
is very small indeed
a few activities do exist
such as a Jewish school
and a local synagogue.

for more on that click here Lietuva- Machtas - Lithuania - Macht - kaunas - Vilnius - Summer ליטא-ליטא  - טיול שורשים לליטא  - קובנה - וילנה  - קיץ  2009