Vilnius Ghetto


When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, about 265,000 Jews lived in Lithuania and about 80,000 of them lived in Vilnius, which corresponded to about 40 % of Vilnius’ population. Thousands of them had fled the Nazis in connection with the occupation of Poland in 1939. The Germans took Vilnius on June 26, 1941, and only a few days later the first Jews were murdered in Paneriai. In july, the jewish population was forced to wear the yellow star and in september two ghettos were established. Ghetto 1 housed Jewish workers with special work permits that allowed them to work outside the ghetto and ghetto 2 was established for the rest. The ghettos were separated by the street Niemiecka and it was forbidden without special permission to freely move between the ghettos or other parts of the city.

The ghettos were surrounded by barbed wire fences and were completely isolated from the outside world. The spread of diseases was common as a result of lack of medicine and supplies. Due to frequent killings, a Jewish resistance movement was formed in the ghetto. They acquired weapons and prepared to fight the Nazis. Several residents of the ghetto fled and joined partisan units. The nazis dismantled ghetto 2 in October 1941 and about 11,000 Jews were murdered in Paneriai. When the nazis began the final decommissioning of the ghetto 1 in September 1943, sporadic fighting erupted. Ghetto 1 was finally decommissioned in October 1943 and about 29,000 Jews were murdered in Paneriai. The ghetto was then destroyed by the nazis and in July 1944 entered the soviet red army Vilnius. About 90 percent of the Jewish population of Lithuania was murdered during the Second World War.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum/monument (2009).

Address: Vilniaus geta, Vilnius.

Get there: Walk from central Vilnius.

My comment:

There is a really interesting museum about the Holocaust in Vilnius on Pamenkalnio 12 called the Green house. The museum looks like an ordinary villa and is located in a backyard. Vilnius is a bit like Kaunas (though cozier as a city), a city with a lot of interest for those who are interested in the Holocaust. Here you can still wander around without having to be crowded with a lot of other tourists who want to watch ”sights” like Schindler’s factory and Auschwitz. In addition, it is perfectly possible to combine the Holocaust with communism through the KGB museum.

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