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

56° 24' / 22° 57'

Translation of the “Vegeriai” 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 217)

Vegeriai

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

In Yiddish, Veger

A county town in the Mazeikiai district.

Year General
Population
Jews %
1923 784 102 13
1940 900 50 6

Vegeriai is situated in northwestern Lithuania, in the Samogitia region, near the Latvian border. During the period of Russian Rule (1795-1915), Vegeriai was administratively part of the Vilnius region, and from 1843 it was part of the Kaunas region. During the period of Independent Lithuania (1918-1940), 4 villages were under the regional jurisdiction of Vegeriai. At that time, the town had a school, a border police post, a fire department and other institutions, which served the 2,000 residents in the county.

The fairly small Jewish community of Vegeriai appears to have been there at least since the beginning of the 19th century. The Jews made their living from petty trade, peddling, maintaining taverns, and also from agriculture. They had a synagogue and a Beth Midrash. In 1896, a fire broke out in the town, which burned down the 2 prayer houses and 9 Torah scrolls.

Among the Rabbis who served in Vegeriai were: Rabbi Nakhum Shapira (“the genius from Dokszyce”); Rabbi Shalom-Dov Meirovitz; Rabbi Gershon, the son of Rabbi Yitzkhak (from 1896); Rabbi Avraham, the son of Tsvi Banin (from 1903).

Between the years 1921-1926, a 7 member community council managed the Jewish community of Vegeriai. The council was democratically elected and was headed by A. Shein, who made his living from peddling in the villages. The Jewish community held limited social and public activities due to the size of its population (68 people in total). Among the 18 Jewish families were: 5 widows and 1 widower, 4 peddlers who peddled in the villages in the surrounding areas, 2 shoemakers, 2 butchers, a builder, a tailor, a person who had a stand in the market, and a horse merchant. In 1937, the town had 2 tailors, a glazier and a butcher.

According to the 1931 Lithuanian government census, Jews owned 2 fabric stores in Vegeriai. In 1939, there were 9 telephones in the town, one of which was owned by Jews (the Blankenberg brothers, who owned a farm). The economic condition of most of the Jewish families in the town was very difficult. Their relations with their Lithuanian neighbors were generally good.

A few weeks after Germany conquered Lithuania in the summer of 1941, armed Lithuanian nationalists transferred the entire Jewish population of Vegeriai to the town of Akmene and from there to the granaries near the flourmills of Latz. On August 5, 1941, the Jews of Vegeriai, together with the Jews of Akmene, were taken to Mazeikiai and on August 5, 1941, (12 Av, 5701) they were murdered by being shot to death by Lithuanians who served within the ranks of the Nazis. They were buried in mass graves in the vicinity of Mazeikiai.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, M-1/E-1771/1637; Koniukhovsky collection 0-71, file 21.
YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: files 367-368, pp. 16916-16969.
Gotlieb, Ohalei Shem, p. 65.

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