“Nemunelio Radviliskis” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Nemunėlio Radviliškis, Lithuania)

56° 24' / 24° 46'

Translation of the “Nemunelio Radviliskis” 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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(Page 398)

Nemunelio Radviliskis (Lith.)

In Yiddish, Nay-Radvilhishok

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

A county town on the banks of the Nemunelis River in the district of Birzai in northern Lithuania, near the border with Latvia. The town was established in the 16th century by the Radzivil aristocratic family. During the period of Russian rule (1795-1915), the town was administratively allocated to the province of Vilnius, and then to the province of Kaunas. In 1859 it had 193 residents; in 1897 it had 637 residents. From the second half of the 19th century, and also during the period of Independent Lithuania (1918-1940), Nemunelio Radviliskis served as the center of a county. At the beginning of the 1920's, a secular Jewish communal organization was established in the town, which received ample support from the Jewish Ministry in Kaunas. According to the 1923 census the town had 723 residents, with 205 Jews among them. Most of the Jews engaged in shop keeping, trade and labor. In 1931, Jews owned in the town 2 shops for grains, a flax shop, 2 shops that traded cattle, 3 cloth shops and a business that dealt in transport. Jews also owned a flourmill and a candy factory. In 1939, the town had 11 telephones; 2 of them were owned by Jews.

During the period under discussion, the Rabbi in the town was Rabbi Khaim Smilg.

Far-reaching social and economic changes occurred during the period of Independent Lithuania (1940-1941). Some of the Jewish breadwinners were accepted as workers in state institutions. In June, 1941, after the outbreak of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, Lithuanian nationalists took control of Nemunelio Radviliskis, and even before the Germans entered the town they arrested all people who worked in Soviet state institutions. In August, 1941, the 15 Jewish families who lived in Nemunelio Radviliskis were brutally murdered after prolonged tortures. The victims were buried in the Skamarakai Forest, 1 km from Nemunelio Radviliskis towards the Birzai Forest. According to a testimony given by one of the murderers in a trial against them after the war (October 9, 1945), 8 communists and 70 civilians (that is, Jewish men, women and children) were murdered at that time. The children (ages 6 and below) were beaten to death with rifle butts or by having their heads flung on stones.

Bibliography:

YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: files 1129-1123.
Masines Zudynes Lietuvoje (Mass Murders in Lithuania), V. 2, pp. 120, 291.

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