Krekenava (Krakinove in Yiddish) is situated in the northern part of Lithuania, on the right shore of the Nevezis River, 30 km. southwest of the district administrative center of Ponevezh (Panevezys).
The town of Krakinove was built in the sixteenth century next to an estate of the same name. In 1580 it was granted the privilege of running three annual fairs. As early as the seventeenth century a considerable number of merchants and trades people lived in the area, which became known for its production of tiles for stoves.
Until 1795 Krakinove was included in the PolishLithuanian Kingdom. According to the third division of Poland in the same year by the three superpowers of those times (Russia, Prussia and Austria), Lithuania was divided between Russia and Prussia. As most of the other towns of Lithuania, Krakinove became part of the Russian Empire, first under the auspices of the Vilna province (Gubernia) and from 1843 under the Kovno Gubernia.
In the seventeenth century and also during the years of independent Lithuania (19181940), Krakinove was a county administrative center.
|Krakinove General View|
Jewish settlement until the period of postWorld War I
It is probable that Jews began to settle in Krakinove at the end of the seventeenth century. In 1766, there were 344 Jewish taxpayers in Krakinove. Jews made their living in small trade, as peddlers and on leased farms. A few
Jews were in the limekiln fuel business. Several men moved to South Africa and sent money to their families back home, until enough was saved for the whole family to emigrate. At that time, an active Association of Former Krakinovers (Landsmanshaft) was formed in South Africa.
In 1881 a large fire broke out in Krakinove, and more than half of the homes, along with the Beth Midrash, under construction at that time, burned down. About 190 families became homeless and destitute. That year an appeal for help to the victims of the fire, signed by the son of the local rabbi NathanNeta Flaum and addressed to Baron Horace von Ginzburg of St. Petersburg, was published in the Hebrew newspaper HaMelitz. Consequently, donations were received from the Baron and from many communities in Lithuania. The rabbi from Memel, Dr. Yits'hak Rilf, also raised a considerable sum of money. Between 1882 and 1883 the Beth Midrash and the Shtibl, where poor people would come to pray, were both rebuilt. Krakinave also had another, smaller Beth Midrash, and a Yeshivah.
In 1897 two fires destroyed almost all the homes in Krakinove (about 270). In these fires the town also lost its great Beth Midrash, two small prayer houses and the twostorey Talmud Torah building.
According to the allRussian census of 1897, the town population was 2,187, including 1,505 Jews (69%).
|Rabbi Mosheh Haskin|
The rabbis who served the community during that period were MoshehMishel Luria, who served for 50 years beginning his service in 1800; his son, NathanNeta Flaum (Luria), who served for 35 years from 1860 until his death in 1895; Rabbi Mosheh Haskin (18741950), who lived in Krakinove during the period of 19001915, and was the founder and the head of the Krakinove Yeshivah; he later emigrated to Eretz Yisrael and died in Jerusalem.
The list of contributors for the Agudath Yisrael Fund includes seven names of Krakinove Jews.
The list of contributors for the settlement of EretzYisrael, as published in the Hebrew newspaper HaMelitz includes the names of 190 Krakinove Jews (see Appendix 1). The fund raiser was David Gershater.
In 1915, during World War I, Krakinove Jews were exiled by the Russian rule deep into Russia and the whole town was burned down.
During the period of independent Lithuania (19181940)
At the end of the war and the establishment of the Lithuanian state, only a third of the Krakinove Jews returned home.
|A street in Krakinove 1992
(Picture taken and presented by Joe Woolf, Ilaniah, Israel)
Following passage of the Law of Autonomies for Minorities by the new Lithuanian government, the Minister for Jewish Affairs, Dr. Menachem (Max) Soloveitshik, ordered elections to community committees (Va'adei Kehilah) to be held in the summer of 1919. In 1919 a Va'ad (community committee) with nine members was elected in Krakinove: four from the Mizrahi list, four were from the list of trades people and one was from independent. The committee was active in all fields of Jewish life until the end of 1925.
According to the first census performed by the new Lithuanian government in 1923, the population of the town was 1,048; 527 of them were Jews (50%).
At that time the Krakinove Jews were mainly engaged in trade and professional crafts. According to the government survey of 1931 there were twelve Jewishowned shops:
|Type of shop||Owned by Jews|
|Grocery and farm produce||2|
|Grains and Flax||1|
|Textile Products and Furs||3|
|Leather and Shoes||1|
|Medicines and Cosmetics||1|
|Radio, Sewing Machines||1|
In addition, the town had two flourmills and a tar factory, all owned by Jews.
In 1937, thirtyseven skilled Jewish trades people worked in Krakinove: ten butchers, seven tailors, four shoemakers, three bakers, two blacksmiths, two needle trade workers, two knitters, two painters, one glazier, one milliner, one barber, one tinsmith and one potter.
|A group of Krakinove Jews, August 1928, on the occasion of a wedding
(Courtesy of Naomi Musiker, from the Jewish Board of Deputies archive in Johannesburg,
scanned by Barry Mann and Maurice Skikne)
The Jewish Popular Bank (Folksbank) with its membership of 62 persons in 1920 played an important role in the economic life of Krakinove Jews. By 1927 the membership increased to 215. In 1939, there were 28 telephone subscribers, 7 of them Jewish.
Relations between Jews and their Lithuanian neighbors were generally fair, but from time to time plots against Jews were instigated. In the summer of 1929, Lithuanian hoodlums attacked three Jewish merchants on the road near Krakinove. In 1936 a blood libel against Krakinove Jews was initiated, but thanks to the intervention of the authorities and the punishment meted out to the instigators, there were no casualties.
Jewish children of Krakinove acquired their elementary level education at the Hebrew school of the Tarbuth chain established in 1920. In 1922 a purposebuilt school was constructed, thanks to the donation of a former Krakinover living in America. On average 170 students attended the school. A library with about 2,000 books in Hebrew and Yiddish was open for the residents of the town.
Many Krakinove Jews belonged to the Zionist movement. All Zionist parties were represented, and almost every home carried the blue Keren Kayemeth contribution box.
The results of the elections for the Zionist Congresses are given in the table below:
|Total Votes||Labor Party
Among the Zionist youth organization HeHalutz, HeHalutz HaTsair, HaShomer HaTsair and other groups were formed. Sport activities were organized at the local branch of Maccabi.
Krakinove had a synagogue, a Beth Midrash and a Kloiz. In addition, it had a Yeshivah with 30 students, and branches of religious youth organizations including Tseirei Agutath Yisrael and Tifereth Bakhurim. Torah study societies included Lomdei Torah, Ein Ya'akov, Menorath HaMaor, Mishnah and Tehilim.
The community's welfare organizations included Linath HaTsedek, Gemiluth Hesed, Hakhnasath Kalah, Hevra Kadisha and more. Many Krakinove Jews were learned people and among them there were ordained rabbis who did not work in their field. The last rabbi to serve the community was Benyamin Movsha who was murdered together with his community.
Among the well known personages born in Krakinove were Rabbi Shaul Luria; Rabbi EliezerYehuda Rabinovitz (18901941), who served in Memel for 19 years and was a member of the center of the Mizrahi party in Lithuania, and was murdered in Keidan in 1941; Rabbi JosefEliyahu Frid, who served as a rabbi in Shukyan for 16 years and later migrated to America; Aba Shaban (19081978), journalist and editor of the Yiddish newspapers in Johannesburg; Eliezer Molk (19131996?), in the 1970s was secretary of Haifa Workers Council.
|Rabbi EliezerYehudah Rabinovitz|
During World War II and afterwards
In the summer of 1940 Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union and became a Soviet Republic. As in other places, factories, Jewish shops and Jewish flour mills of Krakinove were nationalized. All Zionist parties and youth organizations were disbanded. The Hebrew school became a Yiddish one.
When war broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Many Krakinove Jews tried to escape to Russia. They formed a long caravan of horse carts, but upon arrival at Ponevezh, wellorganized Lithuanian nationalists stopped them, forcing them to return to Krakinove. Germans were already swarming the town, but the Lithuanians were still in power. They immediately detained all Jewish youths, imprisoning them in the jail beside the local police station. After several days of abuse the youths were divided into two groups. One group was brought to the Priests' field on the mountain while the other was herded to a field between the stone bridge and the Nevezis River. There they were forced to dig pits, and were then shot and buried in the pits they had dug. The murderers picked out the more beautiful girls and forcibly dragged them to a cellar, where they raped and tortured them to death.
After a short time, the remaining Jews were ordered out of their homes and imprisoned in the Beth Midrash without food or water. When one man attempted to escape, a Lithuanian guard produced a knife and stabbed him. A few days later most of the men were led to the road to Ponevezh, and forced to crack stones for road construction. Shortly afterwards, the men were murdered and buried in that location.
Women, children and a number of men who remained in their homes were ordered to the synagogue and into a few houses nearby, thus the place was proclaimed a ghetto. There, the Jews were deprived of food and drink until July 27, 1941, when they were ordered to pack their few belongings and told that they were to be transferred to a Camp. They were then driven to an open airfield at Payust (Pajuoste), where they were thrown out of the carts, which quickly disappeared, loaded with their belongings. After days of torture without food or water they were murdered and buried in the pits that they themselves were forced to dig.
One Jewish man, who managed to survive the Krakinove massacre by hiding at a nearby Lithuanian farm, joined the Soviet police after the war, in an effort to avenge the murderers as best he could. However, after some time he was caught by opposition rebels and tortured to death.
After the war a mass grave was found on the shores of the Zeneparsa River, one kilometer from Krakinove, about 400 meters from KrakinoveSurvilshok road. Two hundred men, women and children were buried there.
In 1991 a new metal gate was placed at the entrance to the old Jewish cemetery of Krakinove carrying an inscription in Lithuanian: The old Jewish cemetery. Inside, a stone monument was erected with inscriptions in Yiddish, Hebrew and Lithuanian: The old cemetery. Let the memory of the deceased live forever.
|The Monument at a mass grave at the Pajuoste Forest
The inscription in Yiddish and in Russian states:
Four mass graves of the Ponevezh Jews who were murdered by the GermanLithuanian Fascists in August 1941
|The monument on the mass grave near the Zenepersa River
with the inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian:
In this place the Hitlerist murderers and their local helpers
in July and August 1941 murdered about 200 Jews, men, women, children.
|The Monument at the mass grave at the Pajuoste Forest
added later with an inscription in Lithuanian:
At this place the Hitlerists and their helpers
killed about 8000 Jewish children, women and men in August 1941.
|(Picture taken in 1996 and presented by Joe Woolf, Ilaniah, Israel)|
Yad Vashem archives, Jerusalem, O3/3034; M9/15(6) Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem: 55/1788; 55/1701; 13/15/131; Z4/2548.
YIVO, New York, Collection of Lithuanian Communities, files 10221038
Kamzon T.D. (Editor) Yahaduth Lita (Hebrew), Mosad haRav Kook, Tel Aviv, 1959, pages 95, 102
Gotlib, Ohalei Shem (Hebrew), page188
Krakinovo 19011961 (English and Yiddish), published by Akhiezer d'Krakinivo in South Africa
Unzer Lebn (Yiddish), Kovno, 17.6.1938
Davar (Hebrew), Tel Aviv, 27.1.1943
Di Yiddishe Shtime (Yiddish), Kovno, 26.12.1920, 29.1.1922, 27.1.1928, 23.8.1929, 3.9.1931, 3.3.1936, 22.3.1936, 8.3.1938
HaMelitz (Hebrew) St.Petersburg, 7.6.1881, 21.6.1881, 7.2.1882, 7.11.1882, 14.5.1883, 15.6.1883, 23.2.1885, 19.1.1885, 7.4.1900
Folksblat (Yiddish), Kovno, 13.11.1940
Naujienos (Lithuanian) Chicago, 11.6.1949
List of 190 Krakinove Jews, contributors to the settlement of EretzYisrael, as published in HaMelitz in 190203
(from JewishGen.org/databases/Lithuania by Jeffrey Maynard)
|CHASKIN||Moshe||Rabbi for victims of Bobruisk fire||#224||1902|
|HACOHEN||Yisroel ben Dovid||#120||1903|
|HERSHOTERROKEACH||Chanah Leah wife of Dovid||#120||1903|
|HERSHOTERROKEACH||Dovid||for victims of Bobriusk fire||#224||1902|
|HERSHOTERROKEACH||Dovid, husband of Chanah Leah||#120||1903|
|KOIFMAN||Hade dil of Shimon||#120||1903|
|KOIFMAN||Shimon fil of Hade||#120||1903|
|LEWIT||Kalonimus Yechezkel Halevi||#120||1903|
|LEWIT||Leah wife of Abba||#120||1903|
|LIPSKI||Yisroel||for victims of Bobriusk fire||#224||1902|
|OZWALK||Eliahu ben Yisroel Yehoshua||#120||1903|
|OZWALK||Yisroel Yehoshua, father of Eliyahu||#120||1903|
|RABINOWITZ||M A||for victims of Bobriusk fire||#224||1902|
|RABINOWITZ||Moshe Aharon husband of Ella Berman from Libau||wed 1 Nov 1902||#34||1903|
|REZNIK||Moshe ben Michel||#120||1903|
|REZNIK||Nachman||for victims of Bobriusk fire||#224||1902|
|RUBANENKA||Mendel||for victims of Bobruisk fire||#224||1902|
|SHAPIRO||Note||for victims of Bobruisk fire||#224||1902|
|YASHPAN||Meir||for victims of Bobruisk fire||#224||1902|
|Moshe ben Binyomin||#120||1903|
|Zev ben Yehuda||#120||1903|
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