“Garliava” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania

54° 49' / 23° 52'

Translation of the “Garliava” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Josef Rosin

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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(Pages 185-187)


In Yiddish, Gudleve; in Russian, Godlevo

Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by Shimon Joffe

Garliava is a local center in the Kovno district.

Year General
Jews %
1827 160
1881 1,125
1897 962 469 49
1923 936 311 33
1940 - ~70

Garliava lies some 9 km. south of Kovno, along the railway line running to Prussia. The town began to develop on the grounds of the Gudlevsky estate at the beginning of the nineteenth century, as a single street settlement along the road, then being paved from Kovno through Marijampole to Warsaw. In the year 1785, Garliava was annexed to Prussia. Between the years 1807-1815, it belonged to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. In 1815 the town and the whole region came under Russian rule and were included, at a later date, in the Suwalki Province (Gubernia). During that period and also during the period of Lithuanian independence (1918-1940) Garliava served as a district center. It would appear that Jews began to settle in the town from its beginning. It is told that the landowner, Gudlevsky, built them their first prayer hall. In the first census held in 1898, within the Garliava church region, included 41 villages and 33 estates, there were 14,861 inhabitants with 2,218 Jews among them.

Most of the Jews there lived off petty trade and crafts. Almost every family had an auxiliary farm. Near the town were a few Jewish held estates, (the Shwartz and Segalovsky families).Yitskhak Segalovsky received his manor as a present from Gudlevsky, in appreciation for having acted as an interpreter between him and Moshe Montefiore, when the latter passed through the town on his way to Russia.

The town was almost completely burnt down during the First World War. During the period of Lithuanian independence the number of Jews diminished, chiefly for economic reasons. The town Jews emigrated to the USA, South Africa, Canada, and to Eretz Yisrael. Some 70 Jewish families still lived in the town before the Shoah.

In accordance with the Law of Autonomy in independent Lithuania relating to the Jews, a community council was elected in 1921. During the years of its existence the councils' activities were mainly the registration of births, deaths and marriages.

According to a survey conducted by the Lithuanian government in 1931, there were 16 businesses in Garliava, 14 of these were Jewish, (87%), 3 taverns and restaurants, 2 grain dealers, 2 textile shops, 3 machine and transport shops, one grocery, one meat shop, one shoe shop and one haberdashery shop. According to the same survey Garliava had 17 factories, 10 of which belonged to Jews, (59%). 2 brick yards, 2 flour mills, 2 plants for the cleansing of animal innards, one oil press, one dye shop, a leather working plant, and a hairdresser. In 1939 Garliava had 38 telephone subscribers, 7 of them Jews.

During the period of Lithuanian independence, Jewish children in Garliava received their primary education in a Hebrew school belonging to the Yavne stream and in a Yiddish school. Each school had an average of 45 pupils. The closeness of Kovno made it feasible for the graduates to continue their education in the big city.

Most of the Garliava Jews belonged to the Zionist camp and all the parties had their adherents. Many participated in the elections to the Zionist congresses. The voting breakdown is given in the following table:

Year No. of
Z S Zts. A B
14 1925 16
15 1927 20 13 * 1 6 1 -- -- 4
16 1929 52
17 1931 13 10 1 5 1 3
19 1935 69 * 28 6 9 9 7

*Translaters note ; the totals do not add up

Religious activity centered on the Beth Midrash (Study House). Among the rabbis who officiated in Garliava were Rabbi Haim Halevi Katz, Yehuda Barshtein, (from the year 1900), Rabbi Kharakshansky, (from 1922), and the last, Rabbi Kalman Levin (from 1926) who was murdered in the Shoah.

Rabbi Yosef-Reuven Katz, was born in the town, he officiated in Vishente and Gluboki and was an activist in the Vilna Mizrachi.

After the annexation of Lithuania to the Soviet Union, most of the factories and Jewish shops were nationalized. The middle class, mostly Jewish, was hard hit and their standard of living much reduced. The Zionist parties were dissolved and the Hebrew school closed.

After the German invasion of Lithuania, in June 1941, the local Lithuanian nationalists began to harass the Jews in Garliava. The liquidation of the Jews began on August 28, 1941. A few days earlier, the Jewish men were brought to the valley of the Jiesia River, which flows in the vicinity and there ordered to dig a pit 80 meters long and 2 meters wide. After the conclusion of the digging, the town males were brought to the place, and ordered to hand over their money and other valuables and to take off their clothes and shoes. After that, they were pushed into the pit and murdered by the Germans and their Lithuanian helpers. The same day, or a later day, women and children were murdered there and buried in a great mass grave. German sources state that between the dates August 28 and September 2, 1941, 73 Jewish men and 113 women and 61 children were murdered in that place.

The commission investigating Nazi crimes in Soviet Lithuania, concluded in 1944, after partial opening of the grave, estimated there were some 400 bodies buried there, from Garliava, from Mauruciai, from Pakuonis and from sundry small communities in the vicinity.

After the war, a tombstone was laid on the mass grave with an inscription in Lithuanian; “400 Soviet Union citizens shot by the German invaders in 1941, were interred here"


Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, 0-33/3217, 3239.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: file 146, pp. 7622-7615.
Tiesos Vardu, 27.5-3.6.1991.

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