55° 40' / 25° 51'
Translation of the Antaliepte chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita
Translation of the Antaliepte chapter from
Written by Raphael Julius
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 1996
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 1996
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
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.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
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Translated by Shaul Yannai
In Yiddish, Antalapet; in Russian, Antolepti
A town in the Zarasai district (Ezherena, formerly the Novo-Aleksandrovsk district).
Antaliepte is located in the northeast of Lithuania, on the banks of the Sventoji River, approximately 25 km from Zarasai, the district's city, and about the same distance from the Utena train station. The Dvinsk Vilnius road is a few kilometers from the town. The town is known for its exceptionally beautiful scenery; it is surrounded from all sides by hills covered with pine forests. There were not many villages around the town.
Apparently Antaliepte was built in the 16th century. Carmelite monks who built a monastery on the banks of the river founded the town; and in 1675 it was already designated as a town. Between 1732-1760 a church was built in the town in Baroque design. In 1832 the Carmelite monastery was closed and in 1893 it became a Pravoslav monastery. The monastery's main function was to spread the Pravoslavian religion among Lithuanians and Poles who were Catholics.
In the beginning of May 1898, a fire broke out in Antaliepte. Many Jewish homes were burned and many Jews lost their property. The Jews of Dusetos, a nearby town, collected clothes and money for the Jews of Antaliepte.
In 1905, during the revolution, Antaliepte had assemblies and demonstrations against the Czar's rule. In 1919 a revolutionary council in the name of the Bolshevik rule, was formed in the town. After the war ended, the town had weekly market days (on Mondays) and two fairs a year.
The town had a flourmill that was powered by water (the mill belonged to a Jew), a dairy that was powered by steam, and a factory for processing fish. Next to the fish factory was the first government store for fish. In 1924 an electrical power station was built in Antaliepte.
Prior to WWI, Antaliepte had between 80100 Jewish families (approximately 400 people). Among them were 10 shopkeepers. The main source of livelihood was the great Pravoslavian monastery, which had about 100 nuns. The Jews who served the monastery's inhabitants were grocers, millers, builders who repaired what needed repair, and other artisans. Among the artisans in the town were: 3 4 shoemakers, 2 3 millers, 2 3 engravers, 1 tanner and 1 tailor. The town had no factories. It had a machine for brushes. There were also a few peddlers in the town. In the past there were no weekly market days or yearly fairs. Most of the Jews in the town lived in poverty.
The Jews of Antaliepte, as in the other towns in Lithuania, followed a traditional and religious way of life. The town had one Beit Midrash (made of wood) and two Shteeblach (single: shtibel, a small prayer house) of Hassidim. The town was coined as The Rabbinate of Antaliepte Due to the town's small size, the Rabbis who served in Antaliepte did not receive a salary and they made their living by selling yeast, citrons and other religious necessities. These activities were their sole means of livelihood and they lived in great poverty because they could hardly make a living from this.
In WWI, during the German occupation, the situation deteriorated even further; the nuns fled and the military turned the monastery into its headquarters. Nevertheless, all the Jews remained in the town (except two families who moved into the interior of Russia).
After WWI, during the period of Independent Lithuania (1918 1940), the life of the Jews changed. Many of them left and immigrated to South Africa, the United States, and Argentina, and the number of Jews in the town decreased. The youth also left the town due to economic reasons and also because they could not foresee their future in a small town. Quite a few of them went to Eretz-Yisrael. The Jews who remained in the town made their living from small commerce.
But the main changes occurred in the education of the children: although some of them still studied in Hadarim (single: Heder) that were in the town, some parents nevertheless send their children to study in other towns (during the Czarist rule some children already studied in the Russian national school that was not far from Antaliepte) and their life style became somewhat more modern. In 1937 Antaliepte had a Hebrew school.
According to the 1931 Lithuania census, Jews in Antaliepte owned a cloth shop and a heating accessories shop. A few Jews worked in agriculture and one was, as mentioned above, the owner of the only flourmill in the town. At that time there were in the town 15 artisans: 5 butchers, 4 blacksmiths, 2 carpenters, 2 tailors and 1 shoemaker. In 1939 there were 5 telephones in the town, none of them belonged to Jews.
2 people voted in 1929 in the 16th Zionist Congress elections, but in 1933, during the 18th Zionist Congress elections, 15 people voted: 10 voted for the Eretz-Yisrael Haoveded party, 3 gave their votes to the Mizrahi, and 2 to the General Zionists. During the 19th Zionist Congress (1935), the number of voters increased to 114; 59 voted for the Eretz-Yisrael Haoveded party and 55 for Mizrahi. There was also a branch of Hashomer Hatzair in Antaliepte.
Among the Rabbis who served in the town we should remember: Rabbi Yehuda-Yudel from Antaliepte (during the second half of the 19th century), who was a great scholar, deeply involved with his congregation, and was renowned in the region for his scholarship and wisdom. The last Rabbis who served in Antaliepte were Rabbi Zalman-Tuvia Markovitz, Rabbi Yitzhak Nosel (Nasel), and Rabbi Yehuda Levin. Rabbi Zalman-Tuvia Markovitz perished in the 9th Fort in Kaunas together with his son Haim-Shimshon, author of Devar Hachaim and the grandson of Moshe Markovitz, the shoemaker and bibliographer (see the entry on Gruzdziai). Rabbi Haim-Shimshon had a phenomenal memory and was known in the Yeshiva world for his great knowledge. Rabbi Yitzhak Nosel and Rabbi Yehuda Levin also perished in the Holocaust.
In 1940 Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union and the Jews of Antaliepte were forced to adjust to the new Sovietization conditions.
The Germans entered the town on June 26, 1941, 4 days after they invaded the Soviet Union. As soon as the Germans arrived, Lithuanian members of the Marksmen Union (Sauliai) got together and began torturing the Jews. Jonas Mausilauskas, the son of the local bell-ringer, and peasants from the nearby villages, were especially capable in their ability to torture the Jews.
Shortly after the Germans arrived, all the Jews were gathered in the square next to the church and they began to undergo tortures. Yitzhak Berlesky, one of the respected merchants in the town, was forced to run back and forth all day from the square to the river while holding two buckets filled with water until he collapsed. The healthy and fit Jews were divided among the peasants in the area and had to do forced labor on their farms. One of the peasants, whose farm was 2 km from the town, also took quite a few Jews to work, but he tortured them and kept them in inhuman conditions, did not give them anything to eat, and so utterly brutalized them that none of them returned from there.
At the end of August 1941, all the Jews were assembled and led to the Paziemiai forest. There, on August 26, in a place about 3 km southeast of the village of Baltriskiai, and 500 meters from the Deguciai Dusetos road, the Jews of Antaliepte, together with the Jews of Ezherena and other Jews from the area, 2,569 men, women and children, were murdered. The names of the Lithuanian murderers are kept in the Yad Vashem Archives. According to a Lithuanian source, a few of the Jews who were expelled from Antaliepte by the Germans received help from a few Lithuanians in the nearby village of Padortz.
The Lithuanians did not allow the murdered to rest in peace even after the war; the gold seekers continued to come for years afterwards and search the graves for gold or some other valuables.
Among the few young Jews from Antaliepte who, in the summer of 1941, succeeded to escape from the Germans into the Soviet Union, were10 that served in the Lithuanian Division and in other units of the Red Army. Kalman Shur received the highest decoration, Hero of the Soviet Union. He moved permanently to Israel in the 1970's.
Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, 0-57 file A, testimony by Moshe Barkan (based on Yehuda Levinas' story).
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1788, 55/1701, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
Bakalczuk-Felin, M., Yizkor book of Rakishok and Environs, Johannesburg, 1952, pages 346-349.
Hamelitz [The Advocate] (St. Petersburg), 20.5.1898.
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