“Bazilionai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Bazilionai, Lithuania)

55° 48' / 23° 08'

Translation of the “Bazilionai” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Dov Levin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1996




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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Lita: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Lithuania,
Editor: Prof. Dov Levin, Assistant Editor: Josef Rosin, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


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(Pages 168 - 169)

Bazilionai

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

(Formerly, Padubysys; In Yiddish, Bazilyan; In Russian, Podubis)

A town in the Siauliai district.

Bazilionai is located in central Lithuania in the Zemaitija district, on the bank of the Dubysa River. This is how it derived its former name, Padubysys, which means “next to the Dubysa”. The name of the town was changed to Bazilionai in 1749 after a Basilian monastery was built there. Because of the monastery's presence, the town had four big fairs a year. Hundreds of farmers from the surrounding region would come to the town during market days. Bazilionai also had tanneries and a brick factory.

The Jewish community in Bazilionai was established in the 19th century. As was customary at that time, religious and social life centered around the local Beit Midrash. One of the community's Rabbis was Israel Shulman, who served in Bazilionai for 13 years until WWI. 40 Jewish families lived in the town during this period, but in the coming years about a third of the community immigrated to South Africa and the United States. Most of the Jews made their living from small commerce, from peddling in the region's villages and from labor.

About 150 Jews lived in Bazilionai during the period of Independent Lithuania (1918 – 1940). The town had a Jewish school with 25 pupils. Every summer the “OZE” health association held summer camps for the Jewish children. In 1939 there were 17 telephones in the town, 4 of them were owned by Jews: one by Moshe Noik, owner of a flourmill, a sawmill, and a factory for the production of bricks and tiles; another by Yankel Valdman, who also owned a flourmill; another by Yitzhak Valk, owner of a factory for processing wool; and one by Liba Bik, who owned a pottery workshop. In 1937 there were 11 Jewish artisans in the town: 3 tailors, 3 butchers, 2 potters, a baker, a blacksmith and a shoemaker. At that time, 132 Jews lived in Bazilionai.

19 Jews from Bazilionai voted in the elections for 19th Zionist Congress in 1935: all of them voted for the General Zionists A party.

Bazilionai's last Rabbi was Rabbi Yakov Pun.

In June of 1941, when Germany conquered Lithuania, the Lithuanian nationalists took control of Bazilionai. A few weeks later they drove out all of the Jews from their homes and locked them up in the Beit Midrash and in a few houses next to it. According to a different version, Moshe Noik's brick factory was turned into a sort of temporary ghetto. While the Jews were there, the Lithuanians (headed by the local police commander) tortured their Jewish neighbors and looted their property. At the same time and in spite of the objections of a few Lithuanians, other Lithuanians started to commit murder. A list of 15 Lithuanians who were involved in the looting and the murders is included in the Konyochovsky Collection in the Yad Vashem Archives.

At the end of August of 1941, the imprisoned Jews, young and old, were transferred to Zhagare. On the following day, the day of Yom Kippur 5702 (October 2, 1941), armed Lithuanians murdered all of them; some of the neighbors of the Jews were among the murderers.

Moshe Noik and his family were in Ghetto Siauliai and hid in the homes of farmers. After the war they returned to Bazilionai and reactivated the flourmill. One night local Lithuanians stormed into the mill, killed his wife and grandchildren and wounded him severely. Although the killers were tried, they were not punished.

Bibliography

Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, files M-9/15(6); Koniuchovsky Collection 0-71, files 102, 110.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
Kamzon, Yahadut Lita, p. 176
Gotlieb, Sefer Ohalei Hashem, p. 334

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