Salakas (Salok) | Utena

The small synagogue of Salakas. ©Photo archive, taken from The Jewish prayer house of Salakas. ©Photo archive, taken from / Sofija J., born in 1929: “Many Jews used to live in Salakas before the war. I remember Itskus, a shop owner, and Katchkalis, who used to sell the fur coats.” ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum Stanislovas V., born in 1930: “I saw the column of Jews from Salakas being taken to the execution site in the Degučiai forest. Many Jews were transported in carts, while others walked on foot alongside the column.” ©Cristian Monterroso/Yahad - In Unum Julė K., born in 1926: “My mother and I saw about 150 Jews of Salakas being escorted to the forest to be killed. We recognized a Jewish man, Šimelis, in the column. He used to travel around villages selling fabric.” ©Cristian Monterroso/Yahad - In Unum Sofija J., born in 1929: “3 days before the shooting, a Jew, Joškė, left the ghetto and came to my father asking him to keep his valuables until his return from Jerusalem, where he believed the Jews would be taken.” ©Cristian Monterroso/Yahad - In Unum The location of the former Salakas ghetto, which comprised two parallel streets. There were three synagogues in the ghetto area, the largest of which was a red-brick building, with two wooden synagogues nearby. ©Cristian Monterroso/Yahad - In Unum The place where the Jews of Salakas had to undress before being taken to the execution site in Sungardai to be murdered. ©Cristian Monterroso/Yahad - In Unum Julė K., born in 1926, with Yadad team near the execution site of 150 Jews from Salakas in the Sungardai forest. ©Cristian Monterroso/Yahad - In Unum The execution site in the Sungardai forest, where around 150 Jews of Salakas were murdered on August 9, 1941. The monument is dedicated to 114 Jews killed by Hitler’s henchmen and their local helpers. ©Cristian Monterroso/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Salakas

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Sungardai forest
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 150

Witness interview

Julė K., born in 1926: "My mother and I watched as a column of around 150 Jews, including men, women, the elderly, and some children, were escorted into the forest to be murdered. My mother recognized an old Jewish man in the column who was carrying a child on his shoulders. I remember that the guard, a white armbander, kept pushing this old man to make him move faster. My mother asked the guard if she could take and raise the child, and he told her that if she wanted to do so, she could join the column. As soon as the column reached the hill, the Jews were stripped of their possessions, forced to undress, and sit on the hill, waiting their turn to be executed. The 18 strongest Jewish men were the first to be executed, followed by the rest. The shooting didn’t last long, and in the afternoon, many locals went to see the execution site. I went too. It was a very cruel scene. There were four pits at the bottom of the hill, parallel to each other, including the one where the 18 men were buried. All the pits had already been covered and leveled, but there was still a lot of blood around. All Jewish possessions had been taken by the gunmen. Today, a monument stands on this spot." (Testimony N°YIU273LT, interviewed in Sungardai, on April 30, 2016

Soviet archives

"From February 1941 until the arrival of the Germans in Lithuania, I was chairman of the Solok [now Salakas] council. According to the 1941 census, I know that 800 Jews lived in the town of Solok. This figure may not be exact and may vary from 5 to 10 people more or less. After the Germans arrived in Lithuania in 1941, a rebel group of white Lithuanians, under the direction of German leaders, began to round up all the Jews in one place, allegedly in some kind of camp. In August 1941, I saw the Jews, about 800 people, being rounded up in one place and escorted to Sungardai. Then, after a number of Jews had been killed in Sungardai, the remaining Jews were taken in the direction of Degučiai. There were women, the elderly, children and men among them. Afterwards, all the Jews were shot." [Deposition of Aleksey Sh., born in 1898, given to the State Extraordinary Soviet Commission (ChGK), on April 5, 1945; GARF 7021-94-439/Copy USHMM RG.22-002M, p.17]

Historical note

Salakas, a small town surrounded by woods and lakes, is situated approximately 38 km (23.6 mi) east of Utena and about 11 km (6.8 mi) southeast of Degučiai. The first Jews started to settle in Salakas in the 18th century. In the second half of the 19th century, when Salakas was recognized as a trading town and large markets and annual fairs were held there, the Jewish community began to grow. According to the 1897 census conducted by the Russian Empire, there were 1,582 Jews living in Salakas, making up 66% of the total population. Local Jews were primarily engaged in commerce, including the trade of agricultural products and timber, the service sector, and artisanal work, while some made their living by fishing. There were multiple Jewish stores and pubs in the town, and pottery production was well developed. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the town experienced significant devastation from multiple fires that broke out on several occasions, resulting in the destruction of many Jewish homes and three houses of prayer. Over time, Salakas was reconstructed, and its economy restored.

According to the 1923 census conducted by Independent Lithuania (1918-1940), Salakas was home to 917 Jewish residents, comprising 48% of the total population. During this period, many Jews, facing a difficult economic situation, left the town. Salakas was home to a synagogue, prayer houses, a Jewish cemetery, a Hebrew school, a Jewish library, and various Jewish institutions and societies, including Zionist parties. When Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, the economic situation deteriorated as the nationalization of Jewish shops and enterprises led to a shortage of goods and rising prices. The community institutions were disbanded. On the eve of the German invasion, there were about 800 Jewish citizens living in Salakas.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Salakas was occupied by German forces on June 26, 1941. Lithuanian activists, known as white armbanders, established a local administration and police force. Anti-Jewish policies were quickly implemented, mandating that Jews wear distinctive patches on their clothes and mark their homes with the word "Jude" (Jew). A Judenrat (Jewish council) was created. Jews were forbidden from going to the market, and their valuables were looted. Some Jewish women were raped. The new authorities began persecuting and executing those considered loyal to the Soviet regime, including at least two Jewish men.

On August 9, 1941, around 150 Jews, including men, women, the elderly, and some children, were executed in the Sungardai forest. The Aktion was conducted by Lithuanian white armbanders. The Jews were escorted to the execution site on foot. Upon reaching the hill in the forest, they were stripped of their possessions, forced to undress, and made to sit on the hill. The 18 strongest Jewish men were the first to be shot in one of the four pits dug in advance at the bottom of the hill. All the pits were filled immediately after the execution, and the Jewish belongings were taken by the shooters.

The remaining Jews of Salakas were forced to relocate to a designated area near the synagogue on Planova Street, which became an open ghetto guarded by local policemen. Ghetto inmates were forced into various forms of labor, including chopping wood and pulling carts, as horses were not provided. The ghetto was liquidated when all the Jews were taken to the Krakynė forest to be executed alongside other Jews from the Zarasai area. Anyone unable to walk, such as children and the elderly, was transported by carts driven by requisitioned locals, while others were escorted on foot under the supervision of armed guards, including white armbanders and Germans. According to German archives, 2,567 Jews were killed in the Krakynė forest on August 26, 1941. After the execution, Jewish possessions were looted and the pits were desecrated in search of gold.

For more information about the killing of Jews in Degučiai please follow the corresponding profile.


Holocaust Atlas of Lithuania

Nearby villages

To support the work of Yahad-in Unum please consider making a donation

Do you have additional information regarding a village that you would like to share with Yahad ?

Please contact us at
or by calling Yahad – In Unum at +33 (0) 1 53 20 13 17