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

55° 11' / 24° 57'

Translation of the “Sesuoliai” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Josef Rosin

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 704-705)

Sesuoliai

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

In Yiddish, Sheshol, also Shesvil

A small town and county center on the bank of the Sesuoliai River in eastern Lithuania, 15 km southeast of the district city of Ukmerge. Sesuoliai is mentioned in historical documents in the 14th century as a fortified settlement that was conquered by the Crusaders. The settlement belonged later to the great prince of Lithuania and to the Bishops of Vilnius. In 1775, the town had 35 houses and also an active brewery. In 1897, 29 Jews lived among the town's 169 residents. Before WWI, the town had 160 Jews.

At the latter part of WWI, the Jews of Sesuoliai and other communities in the region suffered from the military clashes between the Lithuanians and the Poles that took place in the area. During the first half of the 1920's, the Jews of Sesuoliai received financial aid of 10,000 marks from “YeKoPo”, (the aid organization for the Jewish victims of the war) in Vilnius.

According to the government of Independent Lithuania census, in 1923 there were 129 Jews in the county. According to a Jewish source, about 50 Jews lived among the town's 317 residents during that time. According to the 1931 Lithuanian government census, Jews owned 2 wool carding workshops and a flourmill in Sesuoliai. A community council of 5 elected members managed the small community Sesuoliai, which was able to maintain a Rabbi and a “Shokhet” (slaughterer). The synagogue was in a small wooden building.

As the elections to the 19th Zionist Congress (1935) approached, the Jews of Sesuoliai bought 31 “Shekalim” (tokens of membership in the Zionist organization). Of the 24 votes in the town, 18 voted for the Eretz-Yisrael HaOveded party and 6 for the Grossmanists (headed by M. Grossman).

Only 8 Jewish families remained in Sesuoliai in the autumn of 1940, after Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union. On June 22, 1941, the day of the outbreak of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, all of the town's Jews remained in the town. The Germans conquered the town on the third day of the war, but the town's Jews were not harmed at that stage. 10 days later, armed Lithuanians from the nearby town of Zelva came to Sesuoliai and started murdering some Jews. Among those who were murdered were Avraham Rosin and Eliezer Gutman. Eliezer Gutman's young female cousin, Beile Gutman, was forced to walk naked through the streets of Sesuoliai. At the end of the summer, the last of the town's Jews were driven out of their homes and Lithuanians murdered the Jewish men by shooting them to death. The women and children, while being humiliated and tortured, were taken by foot out of the town to ghetto Ukmerge, as it were. But in fact, they were taken to the Pivonija Forest near Ukmerge, where they were murdered. None of the Jews of Sesuoliai survived.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, Koniukhovsky collection 0-71, files 98, 98A.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1788, 55/1701, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
Kamzon, The Jews of Lithuania, p. 23.
An Account of the Regional Jewish Committee for the Aid of War Victims (YeKoPo) Together with the Treasury Report from Feb. 1 until Sep. 1919.

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