Pravieniškės (Praveniskiu, Prawienischken) | Kaunas

The execution site of 250 French Jews of the Pravieniškės camp, killed on July 10, 1944. According to the monument, on May 15, 1944, 878 French Jews were deported to Lithuania & Estonia. Almost half of them were murdered in the Fort IX and Pravieniškės.

Execution of Jews in Pravieniškės

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Over 500

Historical note

Pravieniškės is situated approximately 26 km (16 mi) east of Kaunas. The first reliable written mention of the locality dates back to 1769. Before 2016, there were two separate villages: the village itself, known as Pravieniškės I, and Pravieniškės II, known for its prison. The town is surrounded by a large forest and has its own peat deposits, discovered in 1930. From then on, Kaunas Prison acquired the surrounding area of around 60 hectares and set up a forced labor camp for peat extraction. When Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, the camp was classified as the Pravieniškės corrective labor colony and housed several hundred inmates. On the eve of the German invasion, on June 26, 1941, the NKVD murdered 260 colony workers, including guards.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Pravieniškės was occupied by German forces on July 24, 1941. In the summer of 1941, the former Pravieniškės corrective labor colony was reorganized into a forced labor camp for Jews. At first, the camp operated as a subunit of the Kaunas prison, and with time, presumably by November 1943, it became a subcamp of the Kaunas concentration camp, operated under supervision of the German security police and the Chief of the SD. The camp’s inmates were transferred there after being accused of loyalty to the Soviet regime or illegal activity.  Inmates were forced to do difficult work extracting peat.  

At the end of June - beginning of July 1941, there were around 600 prisoners, notably Jews transferred from Kaunas. At the end of August 1941, the camp was expanded by around 80 additional Jewish prisoners who were transferred from neighboring localities, including inmates from the Rumšiškės and Žiežmariai ghettos. On September 4, 1941, 253 Jewish camp inmates were executed in the nearby forest over the course of an Aktion conducted by the members of Lithuanian self-defense battalion and troops from the German unit. Between 300 and 400 detainees remained in the camp after the mass execution.

On May 23, 1944, 250 French Jews of convoy N°73 were deported to the Pravieniškės labor camp. On July 10, 1944, they were rounded up and marched to the execution site located in the nearby forest. Once arrived, they were forced to lie down inside the trench in groups of 40 to 50 people and shot dead. Due to the extreme exhaustion, none of the victims tried to escape. Yahad managed to locate their mass grave.  

Apart from the Jews, a number of Roma and POWs were also detained in the Pravieniškės labor camp. Isolated killings and mass executions of non-Jewish victims were regularly conducted throughout the duration of the camp’s existence.  

Holocaust Atlas of Lithuania

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