1 Execution site(s)
Mečislovas T. recalls: "They were all told to undress and that’s what they did. They just left their white underwear on. They took off all their clothes and shoes. I saw a few naked men too. When the Jews took off their clothes, they had to empty their pockets and put everything in a bucket. It was full of valuables. They were told to go near the edge of the pit. When they were shot, they tumbled into the pit. We had to arrange the bodies to fit everyone in. Some of them were still alive. The shooting lasted half a day. We had to cover it after the shooting. It took us around 3 hours to dig the pit." (Eyewitness N°25, interviewed in Kuršėnai, on November 30, 2013)
In 1939 there were around 900 Jews living in Kuršėnai (out of the total population of around 3000). Their main occupation was commerce and crafts (they had bakeries, pharmacies, shops, restaurants…). They were active members of local society with more than 200 local organizations and 2 synagogues.
In Kuršėnai the persecution of the Jews began in July, 1941. Immediately following the arrival of the Germans a Lithuanian partisan squad was formed in Kuršėnai. They arrested supporters of the Soviet regime and assigned the Jews to various forced labor tasks. New regulations forbade the Jews from using the sidewalks and ordered them to wear yellow stars of David. When a ghetto was set up in Kuršėnai by an order of Nazi authorities many Jews were housed in the two synagogues. At the end of July a group of white armbanders and police seized approximately 150 Jewish men from the synagogues and murdered them in the Padarbos forest, about three kilometers from Kuršėnai.
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