1 Execution site(s)
Leonas M., born in 1927, remembers the hot summer day in 1941 when he became a witness of a mass execution: “The column with four people in a row was marching, escorted by guards on both sides who were shouting: “Schneller, Schneller!” Victims were exhausted, they were sweating. Then the guards gave a command: “Halt!” The column stopped, and then was shot at from both ends. It happened very quickly, before the Jews could turn around, escape or even scream.” (Witness N°148, interviewed in Seredžius, on March 24, 2015)
Steadily growing for generations, the Jewish population of Seredžius reached its peak at the end of the 19th century. 1174 Jews lived in the town in 1897, making up 71 percent of the total population. They occupied professions in crafts and commerce, including the timber trade. Some of them navigated boats and rafts to Germany by the Nemunas River. The Jewish population started decreasing in the first decades of the 20th century due to emigration to the USA and South Africa. When WWI started, the tsarist government exiled Jews from Seredžius to Central Russia. Only half of them returned after the war, and found the town plundered and burned. Jews rebuilt their houses and businesses, synagogue and school, although the community never reached its previous numbers. On the eve of WWII, about 500 Jews lived in Seredžius. The town fell into the hands of the Germans on June 24, 1941.
Following the German invasion, the Jews were subjected to restrictive measures and forced payments: 188 Jews of the Seredžius volost paid 18 800 rubles. They were gathered in the town’s synagogue, but later, a group of them was moved to the synagogue in Vilkija. Jewish men from Seredžius were killed in the Pakarklės Forest, 2 km east of Vilkija, on August 28. Jewish women and children met the same fate a week later near the village of Skrebėnai, just outside Seredžius. According to the report of Karl Jäger, 126 Jewish children, 61 women and 6 men were killed there on September 4, 1941.
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