In eastern Lithuania there is a small town called Kretinga (german Crottingen). The city was only about two miles from the German-Soviet border when Germany attacked the Soviet union in june 1941. On June 24, Kretinga was captured by the Germans. The city became one of the first cities to be affected by the actions of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen. The area where Kretinga is located fell under the operational area of Einsatzgruppe A, but even before the ”official” murder of the Kretinga Jews began, pogroms were carried out by Lithuanian nationalists. The pogroms were an expression of revenge against Soviet rule. On June 28, the first executions of about 200 Jews from Crete were carried out in an area west of Crete called Prysmanciai. The Germans used deep tank barriers such as execution sites and mass graves. Other Jews were imprisoned and locked in the Kretinga synagogue. A few days later, a fire broke out in the synagogue. Jews were convicted of the fire and more than sixty Jews were murdered in Prysmanciai. 120 Jews were murdered at the Jewish cemetery, but it was in the Kvecia forest in Prysmanciai that most of the Crete Jews were murdered. Initially, only Jewish men were murdered, but in September the remaining 120 older men, women and children were murdered by Lithuanian voluntary units that literally killed most of them, a few were shot. In addition to Jews from Crete, Jews from the nearby towns of Palanga and Gargzdai were also murdered in Prysmanciai. A total of 700 Jews were murdered and buried in Prysmanciai. The Jewish population of Crete was wiped out in just a few months.

Current status: Monument (2009).

Location: 55°53'38.98"N 21°12'32.37"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Prysmanciai is not one of the major execution sites, but places like Prysmanciai are found all over Eastern Europe. For individual execution sites to be remembered, it is actually required that the number of victims amounts to at least 10,000, otherwise the risk is that they fall into oblivion, but sometimes even that is not enough. Exceptions may be if a widely spread book or film in one way or another highlights a place and thus ends up in people’s consciousness.

Follow up in books: Gordon, Harry: The Shadow of Death: The Holocaust in Lithuania (2008).