“Dubingiai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania

55° 04' / 25° 27'

Translation of the “Dubingiai” 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 200- 201)

Dubingiai

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

(Yiddish, Dubinik)

A town in the Giedraiciai sub district, in the Vilkomir district.

YearGeneral
Population
JewsPercentage
1866363....
1897..280..
192325512047
1940..80..

Dubingiai is located on the banks of the Dubingiai Lake in southern Lithuania, about 55 km southeast of Vilkomir, the district's city. According to historical sources, there was a settlement by that name already in the 14th century. Subsequently, an estate by the name of Dubingiai was built there, which belonged to the Radzivil aristocratic family, and later, in the 19th century, to the Tishkevitz family. The town of Dubingiai developed next to the estate. In 1866, it already had 26 houses.

The Jewish community took root in Dubingiai around about that time. Most of the Jews worked in fishing, in the production of bricks, in petty trade and in labor. Due to the difficult economic conditions, many of them emigrated abroad at the end the 19th century, for example, to Cuba, Canada, South Africa and to Eretz-Yisrael.

At the end of WWI (1919-1920), the Jews of Dubingiai received financial aid for “constructive purposes” from the Jewish aid association in Russia, “YekoPo”.

During the period of Independent Lithuania (1918-1940), about 20 families remained in the town. In 1931, Jews owned two grocery stores in the town. In 1937, two tailors were among the Jews who provided livelihood in the town.

Although the number of Jews that lived in Dubingiai was small, they conducted some public activities. 19 people participated in the elections to the 19th Zionist Congress (1935): 18 voted for the “Eretz-Yisrael HaOveded” party and one for the General Zionists B. Yehoshua Gordon was the Rabbi in Dubingiai.

Zionist activities were forbidden during the period of Russian rule in Lithuania (1940-1941). Some of the Jews started working for government offices and in cooperatives.

On June 22, 1941, when Germany invaded Lithuania, many of the town's Jews tried to escape to Russia. Some of them managed to find hiding places in the forests and in the nearby villages, but most of them were forced to return right away because armed Lithuanians took control of the town and its gateways. The local priest was their leader.

The first Jewish victim who was killed by the Lithuanians was Michael Azerlanski, a young man, about 20 years old. The priest published and signed with his own name a large advertisement, exhorting the Lithuanians to settle accounts with the local Jews. At first, they took 40 young Jewish men and women and forced them to clean the toilets in the Lithuanians' yards. On July 18, 1941, 4 of them, who were accused of collaborating with the communists, were taken out of the town to a forest, and were murdered there. In the meantime, Jews who were hiding in the surrounding areas, returned to the town. Their houses, as well as the houses of the other Jews, were burglarized by their Lithuanian neighbors. On August 18, 1941, about 40 Jews fit for work (below age 45) were transferred to Vilkomir, the district's city, where they were murdered the same day. At the beginning of September, 1941, the elderly, the women and the children were taken out of the town. On the way, the men were separated from the women and the children. All of them, the men, women and children were murdered, together with the Jews of Pivonija, in the field of slaughter in Pivonija near Vilkomir, on September 5, 1941 (13 Elul, 5701), and were buried in mass graves there. Some of the local residents, who were the victims' neighbors, participated in the killings. A few Jews managed to escape the killings and hid in villages in the surrounding areas, but the farmers handed them over to the killers. Of the Jews of Dubingiai, only Benyamin Kremer and his wife Devora survived. They were hidden by a Polish farmer in the village of Krinki in the sub district of Moletai, in the Utena district. After the war, the priest who led the killers disappeared from the town. The names of the Lithuanian murderers, and not to mention them in the same breath with the few righteous savers, are kept in the Yad Vashem archives.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Koniukhovsky collection 0-71, file 99.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
On the Ruins of War and Turmoil, edited by Moshe Shalit, Vilnius, 1930.

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