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Meretch
(Merkinė, Lithuania)

54°10' 24°10'

Meretch (Merkine in Lithuanian) lies in the southeastern part of Lithuania, on the right bank of the river Nemunas, where the river Merkys and the small stream Stange flow into it. It is a very old urban settlement, where by the 14th century a fortress had been built on a hill near the town, the remains of which still exist today, and the area was one of battles between the German Crusader Order, the Lithuanians and the Poles.

In 1387 the Lithuanian Great Duke Vytautas and the Polish King Jagelo (Jogaila) converted its residents to Christianity.

In 1576 King Zigmunt–August granted the town the Magdeburg Rights for self rule. At that time the exact site of the town was determined and four columns were erected at its four corners, two of which apparently still exist.

During the 17th and 18th centuries' wars, Meretch was badly damaged. In 1655 it was occupied by the Russians and totally burnt down. In 1707 Czar Peter the First arrived in Meretch with his army, awaiting the Swedes. The Russians took horses, cattle and food products from the residents and burnt the rest, as a result of which many Meretch residents starved.

During the uprising of the Poles in 1794 led by Koschiusko, Meretch was again burnt down and destroyed by the Russians.

In the 19th century, under Russian rule, the town was included in the Trakai district of the Vilna Gubernia, becoming an important commercial center because of its location at a junction of the important roads Kovno–Grodno and Vilna–Suwalk, and being situated along the waterways of the Nemunas and the Merkys.

In 1869 its population numbered 1,494 residents, and by 1882 – 2,148 residents lived there. The people of the town made their living from agriculture, fishing, mushroom drying and commerce.

In 1915, during World War I, Meretch was occupied by the Germans who ruled there till 1918, at which time the independent Lithuanian State was established. For a short while the town was occupied by the Bolsheviks, but in 1920 the Poles conquered it until they themselves retreated before the Lithuanian army. In the spring of 1921 a great fire broke out, burning down 100 houses and many farm buildings. The American Red Cross supplied the victims with 84 tons of food and garments.

During the period of independent Lithuania (1918–1940) Meretch was part of the Alytus district and a county administrative center. In the 1920s a central water supply system was built and it became one of the first towns of Lithuania to have such an installation. Later the town got electricity from one of its sawmills where a generator was installed.

During the German invasion of the USSR on the 22nd of June 1941 the town was bombed and many buildings damaged. The Nazi rule with its terror and

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atrocities lasted until June 1944, when the Red Army reconquered Meretch. During the battles the center of the town was badly damaged.

 

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Meretch Jews at forced labor during World War I

 

Jewish Settlement till after World War I

Society and Economy

The beginnings of Jewish settlement in Meretch can apparently be traced back to the 15th century. A document from 1486 states that the Great Duke Kazimir ordered his clerks to demand that Yanka (Ya'akov) Yatskovitz and his sons pay taxes. In documents dating from 1539 Meretch Jews are mentioned in connection with a conflict between a Jew named Koniuk and a Christian who owed him money. Documents from 1551 mention Meretch Jews in connection with their exemption from having to pay the special tax imposed on all urban and rural citizens.

During the years 1768–1772 Jewish workers were employed in excavating the Nemunas river between Meretch and Rumshishok (Rumsiskis), in order to improve its sailing conditions.

Meretch was included in the list of communities which were subordinated to the “Va'ad Medinath Lita” (The committee of the Jewish communities in Lithuania) (1623–1764), and was mentioned in the “Pinkas Va'ad HaKehiloth HaRoshiyoth BeMedinath Lita” (Notebook of Major Communities in Lithuania) during the years 1623–1761. In 1765 – 444 Jews resided here, and by 1847 the number had increased to 1565 Jewish residents.

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The Market Place

 

The town was built in the form of a circle, the market square being in the center and around it were the Jewish houses with their shops, vegetable and fruit gardens. Behind them were the Christian neighborhoods.

The Jews made their living from commerce and crafts, and Jewish merchants traveled on business to the bigger cities of Suwalk, Grodno and Vilna. Betsalel Manosovsky rented forest plots from the government for the purpose of felling trees, which were then transported on rafts on the Nemunas to Prussia. He also owned a sawmill and employed both Jewish and Christian workers. Jews owned flour mills, a brick factory, a leather factory, a workshop of candles and a few bakeries. Shoemakers, tailors, carpenters and builders could be found amongst the craftsmen.

At the end of the 19th century Meretch Jews settled in agricultural colonies which the Russian government provided free of charge on condition that they cultivate the land. In 1849 such a colony was established in Panasishok (Panosiskes) and ten families from Meretch settled there. Meretch Jews also settled in those colonies which were established in 1847 in Leipun (Leipalingis) and in Dukshna.

In 1884, on “Khol Hamoed” Succoth, a great fire razed 50 Jewish houses. In the Hebrew newspaper “HaMeilitz” of St.Petersburg dated the 20th of October 1884, an appeal for help for the victims of the fire was published, signed by the Rabbi of Meretch, Yehudah haLevi Lifshitz. In 1893 several fires broke out in the town, for which fifteen Jews were accused of arson, but the accusation was withdrawn. In 1897 a cholera epidemic raged through the town.

A bank established by the JCO (Jewish Colonization Organization) in 1907, initiated by Meretch Jews Yosef Ziman, Mendel–Gershon Yanilov and Avraham–Hertz Miler, played an important role in the economic life of the town.

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Education and Religion

Jewish children received their education in the “Kheder”, in the “Talmud Torah” and in the government school established in 1853 on the initiative of the local intelligence. There were two classes in the “Kheder” – the first one for learning to read the “Sidur”, and the second one where “Gemara” and “Mishnah” were taught. There the children studied till “Bar–Mitzvah”, thereafter the talented pupils continued their study in the “Yeshivoth” of Lida, Volozhin and Slabodka. There were six “Khadarim” for boys and one for girls. In the “Talmud–Torah” mainly “Sidur”, “Khumash” and Hebrew were taught, without tuition fees.

In 1860 a Jewish government school was opened with four classes, boys and girls studying together, the teaching language being Russian. One of the teachers was Yosef–Eliezer Epstein, a student of the rabbinical school in Vilna. The pupils of the “Khadarim” were obliged to attend this school for several hours every day to in order to study Russian.

Shortly before World War I a “Yeshivah Ketanah” (a small or elementary Yeshivah) was established, intended for boys of 13 years of age and upwards. The local Rabbi acted as the supervisor of this school.

Meretch boasted three synagogues, which played a central role in the spiritual and cultural life of the town's Jews. The “Shul”, the “Klois” and the “Beth Midrash” lay in the same street and everyone of them had its own worshippers. The “Shul” was a beautiful building with an “Aron Kodesh” (Holy Arc) made from carved wood, brass chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling which was painted azure like the sky, with stars set in it. In the “Shul” prayers were held only on Saturdays and holidays. Guest cantors would appear and tickets would be sold for these appearances. The “Klois” was a great and lovely building too. “Gemara” (Talmud) learning took place in the “Beth Midrash”. Many societies concerned themselves with adult study of Judaism: Shas, Mishnah, Tehilim, Tifereth Bakhurim and Shulkhan Arukh whose “Pinkas” from the years 1873–1898 was saved.

The “Haskalah” (Enlightenment) movement appeared in Meretch as well and the Jewish “intelligence” read the Hebrew books of Avraham Mapu, Peretz Smolenskin and others with great interest.

Zionist activity had started by the 1880s. In the summer of 1887 David Veiberg, a settler of Rishon LeZion, came to Meretch to visit his parents. He asked the public to donate for the “Khalutzim” in Eretz Israel, to which the public responded positively and donated generously, but the local Rabbi objected. Once, on a Shabbat eve, on seeing proclamations of the “Mizrakhi” party (The religious Zionist party) in the Synagogue, he became very upset and on Shabbat night ripped them to pieces. In spite of this, Zionist activity continued and in 1898 a Zionist Association was founded.

Welfare institutions included “Hakhnasath Orkhim”, “Bikur Kholim”, “Linath haTsedek” and a ladies' association for social help.

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The “Intelligencia” in 1916

 

There was a “Voluntary Fire Brigade”, most of its members being Jews. During the years the heads of this brigade were Yehoshua David Manisovsky, Yisrael Tuviyah Kubitzky, Benjamin Laukenitzky.

During all this period Jews immigrated to South Africa and mainly to America, many of them settling in New York and Boston. In Boston there existed (maybe even now) the “Meretch Relief Association” which supported the community in Lithuania and kept contact with the few Meretch Jews who had immigrated to Eretz Israel.

During World War I the Jews of Meretch remained in town, even absorbing refugees who were expelled from the Kovno Gubernia by the Russians.

The Rabbis who served in Meretch during this period were: Yitshak son of Tsevi in 1835; David Volpe (–––1884); Ben–Zion Shternfeld (1835–1914); Yehudah haLevi Lifshitz (1829–1905); Mikhal–David Stupel (1865–1941) also served as head of the Yeshiva and murdered in the Holocaust. The Rabbis earned a modest salary, but in addition had the exclusive yeast selling concession in town. All the women in town, including the Christian ones, would come to the Rabbis to buy yeast.

 

During the Period of Independent Lithuania (1918–1940).

As a result of the change of rulers, the Germans, the Lithuanians, the Bolsheviks and later the Polish occupation with its anti–semitic atmosphere as well as the big fire of 1921, Jewish economic life was undermined and many families were in danger of starvation. Only due to the help of “The Jewish American Aid Committee” did the Jews of Meretch manage to survive these difficult years. Bread was sold at half the price to those in need and many

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A street in Meretch were many Jews lived

 

received it free of charge; also a kitchen was established which provided free meals for the needy. In these difficult times there were some additional 200 homeless refugees from Poland, which made problems harder. After life became more normal, they left the town. Help for Meretch's Jews also came from the “YEKOPO” (Russian initials for Jewish Aid Committee) organization, in which a native of the town, Dr. Kovarsky, was active. Over the next few years the Jewish community recovered and life returned to its normal course, in which commerce, industry and crafts were entirely in Jewish hands.

According to the government survey of 1931 Meretch had 3 Jewish grain merchants, 5 textile shops and 12 various other shops. The Jews also owned 6 flour mills, 2 sawmills, a cloth painting workshop, a soft drinks factory, a leather processing workshop, a brick factory, a candy factory, a sewing workshop, a tinkers' and a locksmiths workshop. In addition there were tailors, seamstresses, stitchers, shoemakers, bakers and others. By 1937, 105 members were registered in the local branch of the “Association of Jewish Artisans “, including 23 tailors, 22 shoemakers, 12 butchers, 9 blacksmiths, 8 bakers, 3 stitchers, 3 leatherworkers, 3 carpenters, 2 watchmakers, 2 barbers, 2 glaziers, 2 oven builders, 2 hatters, one locksmith, one tinker, one painter, one wood engraver, one photographer, one book binder and 6 others, 2 families being farmers.

In order to make the life of the Jewish shop owners more difficult, two Lithuanian consumer co–ops, supported by the government, were set up. Nevertheless, the Wednesday market day was an important source of income for the Jewish shops nearby.

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The Jewish Popular Bank (Folksbank), whose basic capital came partly from Jewish American funds, was the center of the town's economic life. In 1927 it had 416 members, but in 1929 only 325. The director of the branch was Mosheh Shumakher, a public worker and one of the leaders of the local “Hitakhduth”.

According to the official phone book of 1939, there were 34 telephone owners in Meretch, 12 of them Jewish.

 

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A group of Young Meretch Jews in 1936

First line above, from right: Hayim–Shelomoh Pugatzky, Simhah Kaplan, ____
Second line from right: Hanah Krivorutzky, Hayah Pugatzky
Third line from right: Shalom–Yitshak Romanov, Havivah Rudnitzky, Beile Slonimsky, –––Noakh, Yehudah Karpas
Fourth line: ––––Kaplan, Hayah Krikshtansky, Shtishe Amerikansky, Golda Zalutzky
Fifth line: Aharon Bendenzon, Ya'akov Klibansky

 

Education and Culture

In 1920, before the political situation in Meretch had stabilized, a Yiddish school with two classes was established. Several years later the “Tarbuth” chain set up a school of five classes, with Yiddish as the teaching language as well, and with Hebrew being taught as one of the school's subjects. The school had a library with Hebrew and Yiddish books and in its reading room there were also children's periodicals of the period, such as “Di Grininke Boimalach” (The Green Trees) in Yiddish and “Olami HaKatan” (My Small World) in Hebrew, and others. For the “Hanukah” and “Purim” holidays, pupils would prepare shows, mostly in Hebrew.

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The Hebrew Elementary School 1928 or 1930

 

Throughout the years of its existence the headmaster of this school was Avraham Sidransky, and among the teachers there were Mosheh Ilivitzky, Efraim Yeverovitz, Nadia Milner, Sonia Finan, Shimon Rubinstein, Kalman Vasilisky, Mosheh Pilvinsky and Rabbi David Goldoft.

In addition a school for boys of the religious “Yavneh” stream was active in the town. It was located in the “Ezrath Nashim” of the “Klois”. The teachers were R' Kalman, Aba Beker, Moshe Yehezkel, Milner and others.

There was also a Hebrew kindergarten. Graduates from the schools continued their studies in the Hebrew pro–gymnasium in Alite (Alytus) or in the Hebrew high schools in Kovno and among the graduates there were some who continued on to Kovno University. Very few continued their studies in universities abroad, thanks to the scholarships granted by the philanthropist Azriel Tchais, a native of this district. There were also Meretch youngsters who studied in the Yeshivoth of Telsh and Ponevezh.

The library, which contained about 3,000 Hebrew and Yiddish books, was an important cultural institution, and Motl Miklishansky, a member of the “Poalei Zion Smol” (Leftists Zionist Workers) party, was its director for many years.

 

Zionist and other Activities

All Zionist parties were represented in Meretch., and in 1933 a branch of “WIZO” (Women International Zionist Organization) was active as well. The dominant party was the “ZS–Hitakhduth”, as can be seen from the election results to the Zionist Congresses:

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Congress
Nr
Year Total
Shkalim
Total Votes Labor Party
Z”S Z”Z
Revisionists General
Zionists
A B
Grosmanists Mizrakhi
14 1925 50
15 1927 91 79 5 48 1 3 22
16 1929 203 124 31 67 6 5 15
17 1931 285 155 58 53 29 4 11
18 1933 277 219 37 11 1 9
19 1935 589 343 48 162 36

 

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The Hebrew Kindergarten 1930

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The fourth class of the “Yavneh” school 1932
Standing in the first line above from right the teachers Shimon Rubinstein and Aba Beker

 

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Activists of “Hitakhduth” 1925

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The committee and the activists of KKL (Jewish National Fund) in Meretch on the celebrating the 25th jubilee of the fund 1927

 

There were fund raising activities for the National Funds – Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael (KKL), Keren HaYesod, also for Labour party funds in Eretz Israel, from which later on Bank HaPoalim developed. The Lithuanian centers of these funds were in Kovno and from there instructions were given for their activities. From time to time evening parties were arranged, the income of which was transferred to the above mentioned funds and sometimes to the local library too. Donations for KKL were given also on the occasion of an “Aliyah LaTorah” at the synagogue.

 

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“Gordonia” in Meretch 1930

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Zionist youth organizations were very active in Meretch and most youths belonged to one of them. The first was “Gordonia” with its 70–80 members who were divided into three age groups, with the eldest being affiliated to the local “HeKhalutz” branch.

Many of this group immigrated to Eretz–Israel and joined the “Kibbutzim” Mishmaroth, Givath Brener, Dafnah, Huldah, Yagur and others.

A branch of “HaShomer HaTsair” was established in Meretch in 1928 by several members who had studied in other towns having absorbed the ideology of that movement, and during these years about 250 boys and girls were members of this organization. The adults of “HaShomer HaTsair” who immigrated to Eretz Israel joined the “Kibbutzim” Beth Zera, Amir, Mizra, Kefar Masarik and others.

 

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“HaShomer–HaTzair” Branch in 1930

 

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“Bnei–Akiva”

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The adult group of “Hashomer Hatsair” 1933

 

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“HeKhalutz” in Meretch 1931

 

In addition there were the “Dror”, “Bnei Akiva” and “HeKhalutz” organizations, the latter being a federation of all left leaning politically minded youth organizations.

In 1934 an urban Kibbutz of “HeKhalutz” existed, and there was also a branch of Betar.

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The “Maccabi” Branch in 1926

 

Sport activities were performed in the local “Maccabi” branch. It had also a string band.

 

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The String Band of “Maccabi”

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Several entire families immigrated to Eretz–Israel, among them the Kreiners in 1924 and the Zimans in 1925. Yosef Ziman was among the founders of “Nakhlath Yitzhak”, now part of Tel Aviv, named after Rabbi Yitshak Elkhanan Spector, the famous Rabbi of Kovno.

For many years the members of the “Voluntary Fire Brigade”, who were all Jewish, also served as a “Self Defence” group in case of trouble, and its commander was Yehudah Smolnik for a long time. The hangar of the brigade also served as a cinema.

In 1936 the President of the State decorated three Jewish men – B.Kadish, M.Drezner and Sh.Kotnitzky, having fought for the independence of Lithuania during the years 1918–1919, with the medal of independence. At the local Jewish cemetery a modest monument for fallen Jewish soldiers in Lithuania's war of independence was erected.

 

Religion and Welfare

The prayer houses that existed before World War I, continued to serve their purpose as before. Rabbi Mikhal David Shtupel, who officiated in Meretch before World War I and was known for his harsh opposition to Zionism, continued to hold his position until he was murdered in the Holocaust. There were no “Hasidim” in Meretch and no children with long “Peoth” could be seen in its streets.

These were its welfare institutions: “Gemiluth Khesed” (from 1928) for loans without interest, “Mathan BeSether”, “Bikur Kholim”, “Linath HaTsedek”, “Ezrah” and “Khevrah Kadisha”. The “OZE” organization cared mainly for school children, and also ran a clinic for the public. All Meretch Jews were partly insured for the use of the Jewish hospital in Kovno “Bikur Kholim”, and people of means made a regular monthly payment for this purpose. In the winter of 1939–1940 the community took care of the many refugees who had arrived from Poland.

 

During and After World War II

After the German army occupied Poland in September 1939 and, in accordance with the Ribbentrop–Molotov treaty the Russians occupied the Suvalk region, but after the delineation of exact borders between Poland, Russia and Germany, this region fell into German hands. The retreating Russians allowed anyone who wanted to join them to move into their occupied territory, and indeed many young Jewish people left the area together with the Russians. The Germans expelled the remaining Jews from their homes, robbed them of their possessions, then directed them to the Lithuanian border, where they were left in dire poverty. The Lithuanians did not allow them to enter Lithuania and the

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Germans did not allow them back. Thus they stayed in this swampy area in the cold and rain for several weeks, until Jewish youths from the border villages in Lithuania smuggled them into Lithuania by various routes, at much risk to themselves. Young Jews from Meretch, which was close to the border, were active in smuggling many of these Jews into the country and giving them a warm welcome in Meretch as well as loyal assistance, for which Lithuanian Jews were famous. Altogether about 2,400 refugees crossed through or infiltrated on their own, and were then dispersed in Lithuania.

In June 1940 Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union and became a Soviet Republic. According to Soviet economic policy some Jewish factories and shops were nationalized and commissars were appointed to run them, the craftsmen being forced to organize into cooperatives. Supply of goods was restricted, as a result of which prices soared, and the middle class, mostly Jewish, was badly hit with its living standard dropping gradually. The Zionist parties and youth organizations were dispersed and some of its members were absorbed in the Comsomol – the Communist Youth Organization. The Hebrew school was closed and in its stead a Yiddish school opened. The headmaster A.Sidransky was dismissed and a teacher called Lurie was appointed in his place. The librarian M.Miklishansky was arrested and four Jewish families – Kabatchnik, Geler, Odientz, Kubitzky – were exiled deep into Russia.

0n the 22nd of June 1941 the German army invaded the USSR . Units of the German army encircled Meretch cutting off all roads, so that not one Jew managed to escape from the town, except for a few who at this time were staying in Kovno. German bombing destroyed the center of the town and most of the Jewish families became homeless.

Together with the entry of the Germans into Meretch, the local Lithuanian bullies headed by a teacher of the elementary school, who was also the manager of the “Shaulist” nationalist organization, started to detain Jews, in particular those who were involved in some way in some activity connected to Soviet rule. The first victim was the youngster Hirsh Guzhansky, who was killed by Lithuanians in the center of town, in Kovno Street, with spades they carried, and buried him there.

On the third day of the war, the 24th of June 1941, the detained Jews were led by the Lithuanians to the Jewish cemetery and there were forced to dig a big pit. Among them were Robert Aroliansky, Shalom Goldman, David Vildkin, Shemuel–Dov Pugatzky, Yitshak Kopelman, Dov Kravitz, Menakhem Krikshtansky. Then they were shot and buried in this pit. During that time several Jews were thrown into the Nemunas river and drowned.

After these murders the unrest in town decreased somewhat and many Meretch Jews deluded themselves by thinking that maybe they would now be left alone. Meanwhile news about the terrible murder of Jews in Kovno reached Meretch. Several Meretch Jews whose sons or relatives worked or

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studied in Kovno, got permission to go there in order to bring them back and a few actually returned home.

After a short while all Jews were ordered to concentrate in a particular site – the yard of the synagogues which became a Ghetto. Women and small children were crowded into the building of the “Klois” and the men into the “Beth Midrash”. The Ghetto was encircled with barbed wire, with armed Lithuanians guarding it. Inside the Ghetto a committee was established whose members were the teacher Avraham Sidransky, Betsalel Vainstein and a few others. These committee members tried to develop contacts with the Lithuanians in order to make easier the life in the Ghetto, but all their efforts were of no avail. Every day groups of Jews heavily guarded were taken to various forced labor tasks. From time to time the Germans, helped by Lithuanians, would put together groups of Jewish men for transfer to a labor camp near Alytus, but in fact they were murdered on the way.

At the end of August 1941 Jews were made to dig long trenches beside the fence of the Jewish cemetery. Tension and fear among the Jews increased, but only a few realized the coming danger, the majority deluding themselves by saying that these trenches were meant for military purposes.

On the 7th of September 1941 the Ghetto was surrounded by heavily armed Lithuanians, who made their intentions very clear: “This is your last night, Jews. Tomorrow is your end”. On the next day at dawn, on the 8th of September, the Jews were ordered to leave their abodes and to leave everything behind. Almost naked, being hit and cursed, they were led from the Ghetto to the Jewish cemetery and there beside the trenches they were shot and buried. Several young girls who managed to escape from the murder site, were caught later and murdered as well.

According to a German source, on this day 223 men, 355 women and 276 children, totaling 854 Jews, were murdered in Meretch.

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Monument on the mass grave of Meretch

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Plaque at the monument on the mass grave of Meretch

 

After the town was liberated from Nazi rule in the summer of 1944, a native of the town, a girl partisan called Malkah Pugatzky (later Smali), whose entire family had been murdered there, was the first Jew to arrive back in Meretch. At the site of the mass graves human bones and skulls were dispersed over the surface. She gathered them into a pile and applied to the police for help to bury them, but was not granted permission to do so. They hinted that she should leave town fast because her life was in danger.

Only after more survivors returned from the USSR, among them former soldiers of the Lithuanian Division of the Red Army, and after many efforts, did they receive permission from the authorities to erect two monuments on the two graves – one for the men and the other for the women and children. The inscriptions on the monuments were in Lithuanian and Yiddish, and the expenses of erecting the monuments were covered by the survivors.

In 1991 the inscriptions on the monuments were changed as follows: “At this place Hitler's murderers with their local helpers murdered 1,600 Jews – women, children”

In the town the “Beth Midrash” had become a granary, the “Shul” had been turned into a Lithuanian high school and of the “Klois” only the walls were left.

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Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives: Koniukhovsky Collection 0–71, Files 93.121; 0–3/3925.
YIVO, NY, Collection of Jewish Communities in Lithuania, File 1531.
Pinkas Va'ad HaKehiloth HaRoshiyoth BeMedinath Lita, 5383–5521 (Notebook of Major Communities in Lithuania, 1623–1761 ).
The First Conference of the Jewish Regional Committee “YeKoPo” for helping the Victims of the War, Vilna, September 1919.
Glen M. Meretch (Yiddish) Lite, New York, Volume 2.
Meretch–A Jewish Town in Lithuania, Editor Uri Shefer (Hebrew), Tel–Aviv 1988.
Gotlib. Ohalei Shem, page 120.
HaMeilitz (St. Petersburg) (Hebrew): 23.8.1880; 9.6.1884; 20.10.1884; 18.11.1885; 16.12.1885; 21.7.1887; 16.2.1891; 11.7.1894.
Der Yiddisher Cooperator, Kovno (Yiddish)1929, Number 10.
Dos Neie Vort (The new Word), Kovno (Yiddish), 2.7.1934.
Dos Vort, Kovno (Yiddish): 17.12.1934; 14.2.1935; 26.11.1935.
Folksblat, Kovno (Yiddish): 10.3.1933.
Di Yiddishe Shtime (The Yiddish Voice) Kovno (Yiddish): 30/12/1920; 24.5.1928; 26.12.1929; 4.7.1930; 15.7.1930. 26.6.1931; 19.8.1931; 4.2.1932; 9.3.1933; 7.9.1933; 7.3.1937; 11.5.1937; 1.3.1938; 17.7.1938; 13.3.1939.
Yiddisher Hantverker (Jewish Artisan) Kovno, (Yiddish) 1.12.1938. Nr 6.

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Appendix 1

A Partial List of Personalities Born in Meretch

Harry Fishel (1865–1948), philanthropist, donated funds for establishing the “Tarbuth” school in Meretch, established the Harry Fishel Institute in Jerusalem, died in Jerusalem.
Max Leopold Margalith (1866–1932) Professor of Semitic languages and Bible research in American universities, Editor of the new English translation of the Bible.
Rabbi Zalman–Ya'akov Fridman (1865–?), Rabbi in New York and as from 1893 in Boston.
David–Eliyahu Stone (1888–?), from 1906 in America, one of the founders of the Zionist organization in the USA, member of the Zionist Executive, prosecutor in Massachusetts.
Luis Stone (1884–1957) brother of the above, prosecutor in Boston.
Aharon Frenkel (1886–1941), from 1903 in USA, Hebrew–Yiddish reporter and editor, member of the editorial board of “Hayom” and “Hadoar”.
David Berezovsky (1896–1941), journalist and writer, lived in Grodno and from there was taken to be murdered in Treblinka.
Menakhem Glen (Glembotzky) D.Ph (1898–1978) from 1914 in the USA, published articles and books in Yiddish, Hebrew and English: “On the Shores of the Nieman” (Hebrew), Jerusalem 1937; “Rashi – The Popular Teacher” (Yiddish), N.Y.1947 etc.
Ya'akov Glen D.M (1905–1974) from 1923 in the USA, published articles on medical issues in the Hebrew and Yiddish press in America and a few books in Yiddish about health and diabetics.
Malkah Pugatzky–Senior–Smali (1919–1992), was very active in the autumn of 1939 in absorbing a group of “Gordonia” members, refugees from the Suwalk region, in Meretch and later in Kovno; being in the Kovno Ghetto joined the anti–fascist underground and took 17 Jewish babies out of the Ghetto bringing them to a Lithuanian nursery; joined the partisans in the Rudniky woods; after the liberation of Kovno was one of the founders of the Jewish orphan home in which poor orphans, gathered from Lithuanian families who hid them during Nazi rule, found a warm home; member of the Zionist underground and a contact woman on behalf of the “Brikha” organization with the Zionists in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia; arrived in Eretz Yisrael in November 1947 after half a year's detention by the British in Cyprus; from 1951 in Kibbutz Kefar Masarik.
Benjamin Kaplan, A.Vitkind, Mordehai–Zvi Hurvitz were reporters of “HaTzefirah”;
Benjamin HaCohen, David Zeiberg, Yakobson, Hayim Gadovsky, G.Zeiberg, Hayim–Yitshak Laukalitzky were reporters of “HaMeilitz”.

[Page 309]

Appendix 2

Meretch Jews who fought in the War against the Nazis

In the Red Army

Odientz Ya'akov
Aroliansky Masha
Babalsky Ze'ev
Gordon Mosheh
Vidovsky Shemuel
Vildikan Katriel
Lis David
Lis Shalom
Man Yasha
Sloviansky Aryeh
Sloviansky Betsalel
Segal Tsevi
Pugatzky Gad
Pugatzky Avraham
Klibansky Ya'akov
Ragovsky Zerakh
Ragovsky Khyene
Rozental Barukh
Smali (Smolnik) Yosef

In the USA Army

Slonimsky Yekhiel
Shafransky (Shafner) Aharon
Shafransky (Shafner) Zerakh

In the British Army – The Jewish Brigade from Eretz Yisrael

Yanilov Ya'akov
Ziman Yitshak
Rabin Ya'akov
Romanov Yehudah
Romanov Yafah (Sheine Leah)

Among the Partisans

Sloviansky Mosheh
Laukenitzky Yosef
Pugatzky–Smali Malkah

 

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