“Kazlu-Ruda” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Kazlų Rūda, Lithuania)

54° 46' / 23° 30'

Translation of the “Kazlu-Ruda” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Dov Levin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1996



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Barry Mann


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for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

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 574-575)


In Yiddish, Kazlove Rude

Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by Shimon Joffe

A county town in the Marijampol district.

Year General
Jews %
1827 233 .. ..
1883 445 .. ..
1897 771 .. ..
1923 1,338 a few
1940 1,900 a few

Kazlu Ruda is to be found in one of the largest forest blocs in Lithuania, near the junction of the Kaunas-Kybartai and the Kaunas-Marijampol-Alytus railway lines. The town is first mentioned in documents of 1744. It had a primitive iron works based on iron ore found in the vicinity. In 1795, Kazlu Ruda, was annexed to Prussia, together with the region to the left of the river Neman. Between the years 1807-1815, the town belonged to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. In 1815 the town came under Russian rule and was eventually included in the Suwalki province. In 1861 the Kaunas-Kybartai railway line was laid and the town began to develop. At the end of the 19th century and during the 20th.century, it had market days and large fairs. Most of the inhabitants lived of the timber industry (it had 3 timber mills and 3 furniture factories), and others lived off trade. The pine forests, the dry air and the convenient railway spur brought many vacationers during the summer. The laying to the line to Marijampol and Alytus in 1925, also added to the local economy. From 1928 it served as a county capital.

From an article published in the Hamelitz in July 1886, by S. Goldstein, it transpired that there was a Jewish community in the town in the second half of the 19th.century.

In the period of independent Lithuania (1918-1949), the Jews lived off trade, industry and the hosting of vacationers. According to a survey conducted by the Lithuanian government in 1931 the town had 18 shops and businesses, of these 15 were Jewish owned (83%). The division by sectors is given in the table below:

Branch or Type of Business Total Owned
Groceries 2 2
Butcheries & trade in livestock 5 4
Liquor 1 1
Clothes, furs and textiles 3 3
Hides and shoes 1 1
Medicines & cosmetics 1 0
Sewing machines, electric goods` 1 1
Heating and animal feed 3 3

The survey further established that the town had 16 plants, 8 being in Jewish hands, 3 timber yards, 2 flour mills, a furniture factory a shoemaking factory, and a brush production unit. In the year 1937 9 Jewish tradesmen were active in the town, 3 butchers, 3 bakers, a cobbler, a shoemaker and a photographer. A branch of the Combined Loan Company to Jewish Farmers existed in the town as well. In 1939 there were 40 telephones in town, 9 belonging to Jews.

Beginning with the first Zionist congresses Zionist ideology penetrated Kazlu Ruda. In an article in Hamelitz in 1898 mention is made of many Jews from Kazlu Ruda who contributed money for settlement in Eretz Yisrael. During the period of Lithuanian independence, many of the town Jewry belonged to the Zionist camp with sympathizers of all the Zionist parties, as is evident from the voting pattern to 2 Zionist congresses;

Year No. of
Z S Zts. A B
18 1933 - 52 19 19 7 - 1 6
19 1935 .. 145 66 - 62 4 6 7

A branch of HaShomer HaTzair, (from 1939) was active in town, among other youth movements.

Kazlu Ruda had a synagogue with a rabbi. Rabbi Shmuel-Josef Goichberg officiated in 1910. The last rabbi in the community was Rabbi Haim Eliyahu Movshovitz. He was murdered in the Shoah.

In the winter of 1939, the Germans expelled the Jews from Suvalki and the surrounding regions to the Lithuanian border. Out of the 1400 refugees who reached Lithuania, Kazlu Roda took in some 50 souls.

After the annexation of Lithuania to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940, industry and most of the shops were nationalized. A shortage of goods developed and consequently prices rose. The middle class, mostly Jewish, was hard hit and the standard of living greatly reduced. The Zionist parties and youth movements were dispersed.

In the very first days of the German invasion, Kazlu Ruda fell to the German forces, on June 22 or June 23, 1941. The fate of the local Jewry was the same as that of the other Jews under Nazi hegemony. From what is known about the towns in the area it may be surmised that by the end of August 1941, the Kazlu Ruda Jews, too, were murdered.

The Germans built a camp near the town where the prisoners were employed in digging up turf. There were approximately 400 Jews in the camp, who were brought from Kaunas, Vilnius and other places. The SS ruled in the camp with very harsh conditions. With the approach of the Red Army to the area, in July 1941,* some 150 prisoners escaped from the camp, some of them joined the partisan units active in the region, 250 of the remaining prisoners were transported to the Kaunas Ghetto which was about to be destroyed . Some of the Jews there were further transported to concentration camps in Germany.


Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, O-3/2041, 2101; O-33/405.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1788, 55/1701, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: file 1676.
Di Yiddishe Shtime [The Jewish Voice] – (Kaunas), 4.2.1932.
Hamelitz [The Advocate] – (St. Petersburg), 24.7.1886, 5.5.1894.


* Note from Philip S. Shapiro:

The Red Army did not approach Lithuania until early 1944.  Therefore, it was in July 1944 (not 1941) that the slave-labor camp in Kazlų Rūda would have been dismantled.


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