“Tirksliai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Tirkšliai, Lithuania)

56° 16' / 22° 19'

Translation of the “Tirksliai” 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 304-305)

Tirksliai

In Yiddish, Tirkshle

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

A county town in the Mazeikiai district.

Year General
Population
Jews %
1846 216 .. ..
1885 716 .. ..
1897 1,209 242 20
1921 .. 82 ..
1923 1,117 119 10

Tirksliai is located in western Lithuania, in the Samogitia region near the Latvian border, 8 km south of the district city of Mazeikiai. The village originated as an estate, which was most likely established at the beginning of the 16th century. Historical sources from 1569 note that the town had a market place and a number of taverns. In 1846, Tirksliai already had 97 houses. Its number of residents grew significantly during the second half of the 19th century. Since that time, Tirksliai served as the center of the county. The town, which is surrounding by dense pine forests, attracted many vacationers who came there for vacation and recuperation during the summers.

When Jews established themselves in Tirksliai during the middle of the 18th century, they made their living from petty trade, agriculture and crafts. At the end of the 19th century and onwards, many of them emigrated abroad. Rabbi Tuvia, the son of Rabbi Moshe Ba'ai, served in Tirksliai's rabbinate during the years that preceded WWI.

The names of many Jews from Tirksliai appear in a list of donors from 1903 for settling Eretz-Yisrael. The delegate was Yekheskel Tsivin.

On May 10, 1915, on the order of the Russian military, the Jews of Tirksliai were expelled within 3 hours to the interior parts of Russia (the Penza region and others). Only some of Tirksliai's Jews returned to the town after the war.

During the period of Independent Lithuania, when autonomy was declared for the Jews, a 5 member community council was voted for in Tirksliai. The committee was active for a number of years in most areas of Jewish life in the town.

According to the 1931 Lithuanian government census, Tirksliai had 10 stores, 7 of which were owned by Jews: 4 grocery stores, 2 fabric stores, and a butchery. Jews also owned a leather processing factory. In 1937, the town had 5 Jewish artisans: 2 bakers, a tailor, a butcher and tinsmith.

In 1936, a very big fire broke out in Tirksliai and the Jews fled with their few belongings to the fields. Luckily, their homes were not badly damaged. Despite the low number of Jews in the town, they maintained communal and social activities as much as they could. Below are the results of the Jewish votes to the Zionist Congresses during the first half of the 1930's in the town (the elections were held, in part, at the Beth Midrash:

Congress
Nr
Year Total
Voters
Labor
Part
Revis-
ionist
General
Zionists
Grosmanists Mizrachi
Z”S Z”Z A B
17 1931 - - 1 1 9 - - 1
18 1933 20 13 2 3 - - 2
19 1935 57 21 - 6 21 1 8

Germany invaded Lithuania during the summer of 1941. German military units reached the Tirksliai area on June 25. The town itself was controlled by Lithuanian nationalists, who severely tortured the Jews and actively participated in assembling them in the Pserkesniai estate. Approximately at the same time, women and children from the district city of Mazeikiai were brought to that estate. On August 5, all the Jews were transferred to murder site in Mazeikiai, where they were murdered during the Sabbath of 16 Av, 5701 (August 9, 1941), together with many Jews from the surrounding areas. After the war, a memorial in the form of a black marble tablet was erected on their graves.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, 1771/1637, M-1/E-11670/1555; M-1/Q-1445/279; Koniukhovsky Collection 0-71, file 21.
Central Zionist Archives: 55/1701; 55/1788; 13/15/131; Z-4/2548.
Gotlieb, Ohalei Shem, p. 83.
Folksblat
[The People's Newspaper] – (Kaunas), 3.7.1936.

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