Plungyan: A Memoir


55°55' / 21°51'

Written by:

Jacob Yosef Bunka


Project Coordinator


Translated from the Yiddish by:

Stephen Geller Katz

Edited by:

Benyamin Herson

Our sincere appreciation to Jacob Yosef Bunka, Lithuania,
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

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In November of 1994 my brother Morris and I returned to the land of our birth – Lithuania. There on a visit to Plunge (Plungyan in Yiddish) we met Jacob Joseph Bunka, a renowned folk master in the art of wood sculpture and the last living Jew of that city. He gave us a copy of his manuscript, in Yiddish, on the Jews of Plungyan, their way of life and their demise as a community, destroyed by Nazi cruelty and abetted by the Fascists of Lithuania. We sensed the historic significance of Bunka’s chronicle as a testament to the tragic fate of his people, that it contained a record of a new paradigm of evil – a mass grave in every forest of the land by each village or town or city that for centuries, since the fourteenth, were inhabited by Jews. This devastation is captured in simple language in the life and memory of one outstanding personality, Jacob Joseph Bunka.

We took pains to have this unique manuscript translated into English and due to the faithfulness of my brother, the task was finally accomplished by Stephen Geller Katz, and completed by the brother of Morris, of Telz background.

We hope this work will add another dimension to what is now termed The Holocaust and its literature.

We are grateful to the authorship of Joseph Bunka, as an heroic witness, to Mrs. Bunka for her steadfast loyalty to her Jewish husband, to their son, Eugene, for his editorial help and to all those who have helped us in bringing this work to light.

May the courage of this testament point to a better world and its pain redeemed by a gracious providence.

Rabbi Benyamin Herson

June 18, 1999 – Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 5759

Chapter I Historical Beginnings of Jewish Settlement in Plungyan (Plungé)
Chapter II Jewish Life in Plungyan Prior to World War II
Chapter III The War and the Destruction of the Jewish Community of Plungyan
Chapter IV The Destruction of Kratinga, Salant, Meisda and Riteve Communities
Chapter V Evacuation to Soviet Russia, Life on the Front, Episodes of Plungyan Jews In Combat
Chapter VI The Return of Jews to Plungyan After the War
Chapter VII A People of Memory: The Koshan Memorial and Restoration of Jewish Cemeteries
1 Translation of brochure on Jacob Joseph Bunka
2 Lithuanian Collaborators
3 Righteous Gentiles
4 Jews who Fell in Battle
5 Jews Exiled to Siberia
6 Gravestones

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