“Krakes” - Lithuanian Jewry
(Krok, Lithuania)

55°24' / 23°44'

Translation of “Krakes” chapter from Yahadut Lita
(Lithuanian Jewry), Vols. 3 and 4

Published by The Association of The Lithuanian Jews in Israel

Published in Tel Aviv, 1967 (Vol. 3) and 1984 (Vol. 4)


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Ada Green

 

Our sincere appreciation to Joseph Melamed, Advocat, for permission
to put this material on the JewishGen web site

This is a translation from: Yahadut Lita: (Lithuanian Jewry), Vols. 3 and 4
Town Krakes, p. 355 (Vol. 3) and p. 352 (Vol. 4)


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[Page 355 - Volume 3]

Krakes

Translated by Miriam Goldwasser (Vol. 3) and Joseph Woolf (Vol. 4)

Krakes is located near Keidan [Kedainiai] (23 km), Dotnuva (12 km) and Grinkishok [Grinkiskis]. The nearest train stop was in Dotnuva.

In 1897 450 Jews lived in the place and in 1914 approximately 800. During the World War I all the Jews were exiled from town. Some of them found a temporary refuge in Vilna [Vilnius] and those returned to their hometown after it was conquered by the Germans. Under the German rule the local Jews had to endure lean years and forced labor as well. After the war ended a considerable number of the refugees had returned from Russian and with external help they proceeded to rebuild the life of the town's community.

In 1930 the Jewish community consisted of 165 families, who were mainly involved in trade. Their income depended on the market day (Wednesday). The majority of the Jews made a living through hard manual labor like driving carriages, tanning, smithery, etc. In Independent Lithuania part of the town's population lived with the help of their overseas relatives, mainly from South Africa. The Jewish People's Bank had 132 members (in 1929). Its founder and manager for a number of years was Meir Gordon.

In spite of its financial want, the town enjoyed a rich spiritual and communal life. At the “Tarbut” school there were 80 students. Besides that there were several cheders and a small yeshiva in town, a library named after A. P. Preil, a drama circle and a choir. Almost all the adult inhabitants of the town participated in Torah study group: Shas, Mishniot, Ein-Yakov, Tiferet Bachurim. Most of the homeowners knew “The Book” well. The youth were organized into several groups: Tzeirei Zion [the Young Zionists], Tsofim, Maccabi and Hachalutz, from which 45 members made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. Hebrew was spoken quite well by all of the town's inhabitants.

There was a synagogue there and two “minyans”. There were philanthropic organizations like Linat Hatzedek and a volunteer fire-fighting brigade.

From among the rabbis: R. Shimon son of Shabtai, died in 5582 [1822]; R. Zalman-Simcha son of Avraham-Shimon Troub, died in 5632 [1872]; R. Meir Robinzon; R. Yehoshua-Yosef Preil; R. Eliyahu-Meir Faivelson; R. Benzion Notlevich (was a rabbi until 5665 [1905]); R. Chaim-Meir Feldberg (his son, Dr. Leon Feldberg, was the editor of the Jewish Times in Johannesburg); and its last rabbi — R. David Goldberg, the son-in-law of R. Feldberg.

From among the community leaders: R. Shabtai Farber, shochet ; R. Yakov Fried and his son Chaim; R. Toker; R. Levi Vidokler; R. Moshe-Itzia Abramson; and David Feldberg.

[Page 352 - Volume 4]

Krakes is a small town in central Lithuania, in the Keidan region. In 1941 there were about 150 Jewish families living in the town.

When the German forces entered the town, the Lithuanian “activists” organized and took upon themselves the responsibility of creating order within the town. They immediately started to arrest active communists and some Jews. Those arrested were transported to the regional capital Keidan and never heard from again.

In the first days the “activists” cruelly abused and maltreated the Jews. Dr. Alperowitz was tortured to death, and it is said that they beheaded him and placed his head on the living room sideboard. They forced the rabbi David Goldberg to place his head on a tree stump and with a knife cut off his beard. After a few days, they took the rabbi, the shochet Reb Shabtai Farber and Revele the shoemaker to the outskirts of the town, forced them to dig their own graves, shot and buried them.

Special attention was given to the families of persons who had connections with the Communists and Soviet authorities. Two siblings of the Toker family had in the past been members of the Communist party, and in spite of the fact that they had left the town a long time previously, the activists forced the old parents out of their house, murdered and buried them on the spot.

After that all the Jews were forced out of their homes, and concentrated into a ghetto.

According to a letter found of the chief of Police A. Kuviotkus, of the 17th August 1941, there had been 337 male and 115 female Jews in Krakes, a total of 452 persons.

At the end of August other Jews of surrounding villages from Keidan and Eiragola [Ariogala] were brought to and concentrated at Krakes.

Later Jews from Beisagola [Baisogala], Gudzun [Gudziunai], Grinkishok [Grinkiskis], Patsiunel [Pociuneliai], Dotnuva and other places were also assembled at Krakes.

On the 2nd September 1941, all were taken out onto the road from Krakes to Rasein [Raseiniai], and about one mile (1.5 km) out of Krakes, were all murdered and buried in a mass grave, at the village of Pashtinukai, about 500 meters to the left of the road to Rasein.

This is recorded in the book The Popular Massacres of Lithuania, Part “B”. Number of victims 1125 Jewish men, women and children. 448 men, 476 women and 201 children.

At the head of the murderers was a Lithuanian Kerankaus, a marksman of the past, and amongst the murderers who excelled in their cruelty were the brothers Jozias and Jonas Staikias, Piotras Lukasius and others.


Sources:

The witness Chasia Koren-Nadel, Rehovot, Israel.

The book The Popular Massacres of Lithuania, Part I - Chapters 6 and 20.


See also:

“Krakes” - Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Lithuania

“Krakes” - Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918

“Krakes, at Shtetlinks


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