“Stakiai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Lithuania)

55° 11' / 23° 5'

Translation of the “Stakiai” 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 420-421)

Stakiai

In Yiddish, Staky

Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by Shimon Joffe

A small town in the Raseiniai district.

Year General
Population
Jews
1923 190 ..
1940 .. 30

Stakiai lies in the Samogitia region in central Lithuania, on the left bank of the Mituva River, a tributary of the Nemunas, some 25 km south-east distant from the district town Raseiniai.

The few town Jews lived off petty trade and farming. These were mostly auxiliary farms with cattle. The Feinstein family owned a large flour mill in the town. The relations between the Jews and their gentile neighbors were generally cordial. In 1923 the town had a total of 190 inhabitants.

In the elections to the 19th Zionist congress which took place in 1935, 18 votes were counted, all cast for the Labor list. 9 votes were cast for the 21st Congress, which took place in 1939; 6 went to the Labor list and 3 to the National Block.

Some 30 Jews lived in the town before the Second World War. A day after the opening of the War, on June 23, 1941, the town fell to the invading German army. They did not remain in it. Control immediately passed into the hands of the local Lithuanians. During the month of July the Jews were permitted to remain in their homes but forbidden to be outside in the street between the hours of 8 pm and 8 am. A few Jews were taken to work on repairing roads. At the end of July it was rumored that a Jew had chocked a cow belonging to a Lithuanian; Jews were beaten and their cows distributed among the neighbors.

On August 6, the nationalist Lithuanians forced peasants of the neighborhood to dig pits on the banks of the Mituva River, a km from the town. The following day, the ninth of the month, most of the local Jews were murdered by the Lithuanians and buried in the pits, after they had been forced to strip naked. The clothes of the murdered were distributed among the peasantry. The names of the murderers are stored in the Yad Vashem archives.

5 Stakiai Jews survived the slaughter. They had escaped the town and hid among peasant friends (the two Feinstein brothers, Moshe Vinik and his two sisters). The Feinstein brothers joined up with a few other survivors, acquired arms and roamed about in the area. In summer they lived in the forest and in the winter they lived with kind hearted peasants who also supplied them with food.

In the autumn of 1943, Jews from the Kaunas ghetto arrived. They were brought by Lithuanian peasants, friends of the Feinstein brothers, who travelled especially to Kaunas and brought the escapees in carts. A Lithuanian engineer, from the Shantz suburb of Kaunas, brought a few families from the Kaunas ghetto in his car. A Jewish woman named Hene Frank, the only survivor of her family from the vicinity of Raudone, wandered about in the area. She risked her life by slipping into the Kaunas ghetto a number of times, took Jews out of the ghetto and placed them on the steamship sailing on the Nemunas River from Kaunas to a place near Stakiai. A total of 60 Jews assembled there. They called themselves the 'Jurbarkas Group'. A few dozen Lithuanian peasant families were privy to the secret and assisted the Jews to the best of their ability. A village lay in the depth of the forest and the Jews who found refuge in it, called it Palestine.

In the summer of 1944, after the Red Army had already taken Vilnius, Kaunas and Jonava and was approaching the region, the Germans ordered the local population to leave the front area and move westwards. The peasants who had assisted the Jews had to leave as well. The Jews remained in place. They broke up into two camps; each building in the forest well-camouflaged dugouts. At that time, they were joined by two Russians and two Latvians who had deserted from the German army. One day, the Latvians were caught and they led the Germans to the dugouts. The Germans forced the Jews to leave the dugouts and took them to an unknown place. It would seem they were all killed. On the way, a few Jews managed to escape. All told, 9 Jews remained alive of the group. Among them were the Feinstein brothers, who were away from the hideout when the Germans arrived.

The names of the villages and of the peasants who assisted the Jews are stored in the archives of Yad Vashem.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, Koniukhovsky Collection 0-71, files 42, 55.

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