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[Page 89]

Krekenava (Krakinove)

55°33' 24°06'

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 Polish–Lithuanian 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 (1918–1940), Krakinove was a county administrative center.

 

lit6_089.jpg
Krakinove – General View

 

Jewish settlement until the period of post–World 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

[Page 90]

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 Nathan–Neta 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 two–storey Talmud Torah building.

According to the all–Russian census of 1897, the town population was 2,187, including 1,505 Jews (69%).

 

lit6_090.jpg
Rabbi Mosheh Haskin

 

The rabbis who served the community during that period were Mosheh–Mishel Luria, who served for 50 years beginning his service in 1800; his son, Nathan–Neta Flaum (Luria), who served for 35 years from 1860 until his death in 1895; Rabbi Mosheh Haskin (1874–1950), who lived in Krakinove during the period of 1900–1915, and was the founder and the head of the Krakinove Yeshivah; he later emigrated to Eretz Yisrael and died in Jerusalem.

[Page 91]

The list of contributors for the Agudath Yisrael Fund includes seven names of Krakinove Jews.

The list of contributors for the settlement of Eretz–Yisrael, 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 (1918–1940)

At the end of the war and the establishment of the Lithuanian state, only a third of the Krakinove Jews returned home.

 

lit6_091.jpg
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%).

[Page 92]

At that time the Krakinove Jews were mainly engaged in trade and professional crafts. According to the government survey of 1931 there were twelve Jewish–owned shops:

&nbps;

Type of shop Owned by Jews
Grocery and farm produce 2
Grains and Flax 1
Beverages 1
Textile Products and Furs 3
Leather and Shoes 1
Hardware 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, thirty–seven 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.

 

lit6_092.jpg
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
)

[Page 93]

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 purpose–built 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:

 

Congress
No.
Year Total
Shekalim
Total Votes Labor Party
Z”S Z”Z
Revisionists General Zionists
A B
Grosmanists Mizrakhi
16 1929 12
17 1931 17 11 9 2
18 1933 44 35 2 4 3
19 1935 178 177 85 35 2 29 26

 

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.

[Page 94]

lit6_094a.jpg
The Synagogue

 

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 Eliezer–Yehuda Rabinovitz (1890–1941), 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 Josef–Eliyahu Frid, who served as a rabbi in Shukyan for 16 years and later migrated to America; Aba Shaban (1908–1978), journalist and editor of the Yiddish newspapers in Johannesburg; Eliezer Molk (1913–1996?), in the 1970s was secretary of Haifa Workers Council.

 

lit6_094b.jpg
Rabbi Eliezer–Yehudah Rabinovitz

[Page 95]

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, well–organized 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.

[Page 96]

After the war a mass grave was found on the shores of the Zeneparsa River, one kilometer from Krakinove, about 400 meters from Krakinove–Survilshok 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.”

 

lit6_096.jpg
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 German–Lithuanian Fascists in August 1941

[Page 97]

lit6_097.jpg
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.”

[Page 98]

lit6_098a.jpg
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.”

lit6_098b.jpg
(Picture taken in 1996 and presented by Joe Woolf, Ilaniah, Israel)

[Page 99]

Sources:

Yad Vashem archives, Jerusalem, O–3/3034; M–9/15(6) Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem: 55/1788; 55/1701; 13/15/131; Z–4/2548.
YIVO, New York, Collection of Lithuanian Communities, files 1022–1038
Kamzon T.D. (Editor) Yahaduth Lita (Hebrew), Mosad haRav Kook, Tel Aviv, 1959, pages 95, 102
Gotlib, Ohalei Shem (Hebrew), page188
Krakinovo 1901–1961 (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

[Pages 100–107]

Appendix 1:

List of 190 Krakinove Jews, contributors to the settlement of Eretz–Yisrael, as published in HaMelitz in 1902–03
(from JewishGen.org/databases/Lithuania by Jeffrey Maynard)


Surname Name Comments Source Year
ABRAMOWITZ Ephraim   #120 1903
ASHNEGORKE M   #120 1903
BASERABIE Hilell Noson   #120 1903
BEIER Moshe   #120 1903
BENIAMIN Chava   #120 1903
BERKOWITZ Mordechai   #120 1903
BERMAN Elke   #120 1903
BLA Leib Abba   #120 1903
BLOCH Chaya Hena   #120 1903
BLOCH Malka   #120 1903
BODNIK Pesach   #120 1903
BRENER Fishel   #120 1903
BRUCHOWITZ Sheine   #120 1903
CHAIMOWITZ Aharon   #120 1903
CHAIMOWITZ Chaim Tzvi   #120 1903
CHAIMOWITZ Yosef   #120 1903
CHASKIN Moshe Rabbi – for victims of Bobruisk fire #224 1902
DEMBA Rivka   #120 1903
DISLER Peia   #120 1903
DOBIANSKI Roze   #120 1903
DOGOLER Aba from Vilna #120 1903
DOVIDOWITZ Leib   #120 1903
FEIWISH Cheikil   #120 1903
FRIDMAN Chava   #120 1903
FRIDMAN Rivka   #120 1903
FRIDMAN Shmariahu Zev   #120 1903
FRIDMAN Yakov Aharon   #120 1903
GARBER Kalman   #120 1903
GEL Boruch   #120 1903
GEL Boruch   #34 1903
GEL Moshe   #120 1903
GEL Musha   #120 1903
GIRNON Rivka   #120 1903
GOLDTZIN Yosef   #120 1903
GOLOSKIN Yakov   #120 1903
GREK Uri   #120 1903
GRIN Yakov   #120 1903
GROBOWETZKI Freida   #120 1903
GROSKIN Glika   #120 1903
HACOHEN Henich   #120 1903
HACOHEN Reuven   #120 1903
HACOHEN Tzvi   #120 1903
HACOHEN Yisroel ben Dovid   #120 1903
HANDELMAN Tzvi   #120 1903
HAZAS Moshe Rabbi Gaon #225 1902
HERMAN Tzila   #120 1903
HERSHOTER Dovid   #34 1903
HERSHOTER–ROKEACH Chanah Leah wife of Dovid   #120 1903
HERSHOTER–ROKEACH Dovid for victims of Bobriusk fire #224 1902
HERSHOTER–ROKEACH Dovid, husband of Chanah Leah   #120 1903
HESHILS Dovid   #120 1903
HIRSHOWITZ Mendel   #120 1903
HORWITZ Riba Nita   #120 1903
HORWITZ Sarah Etil   #120 1903
KATZ Eliahu   #120 1903
KATZ Sarah   #120 1903
KAPLAN Beinish   #120 1903
KAPLAN Yisroel   #34 1903
KEIDAN Shneur   #120 1903
KIRIGER Moshe Bentzion   #120 1903
KLIBANSKI Shmuel   #120 1903
KLITONSKI Chana   #34 1903
KLIWANSKI Chana from Mozg #120 1903
KLIWANSKI Yechezkel Yakov   #120 1903
KOIFMAN Hade d–i–l of Shimon   #120 1903
KOIFMAN Shimon f–i–l of Hade   #120 1903
KRAWITZ Tzvi Mordechai   #120 1903
KRIGER Beila   #120 1903
LEWIN Ephraim   #120 1903
LEWIN Yechezhel   #120 1903
LEWIN Yitzchok   #120 1903
LEWIN Zelig Aizik   #120 1903
LEWIT Kalonimus Yechezkel Halevi   #120 1903
LEWIT Leah widow #34 1903
LEWIT Leah wife of Abba   #120 1903
LEWITAN Betzalel   #120 1903
LIBERMAN Chava Chaya   #120 1903
LIBERMAN Zev Zelig   #120 1903
LIDER Leah   #120 1903
LIPMANOWITZ Miriam   #120 1903
LIPSHITZ Avraham   #120 1903
LIPSKI Yisroel for victims of Bobriusk fire #224 1902
LUKMAN Mordechai   #120 1903
MARKUS Chaim Aizik   #120 1903
MARKUS Gershon   #120 1903
MELAMED Mordechai Shalom   #120 1903
MELAMED Naphtali Moshe   #120 1903
MELER Boruch   #120 1903
MELER Feiwish   #120 1903
MENDELSON Nisan Shub #120 1903
MER Shmuel   #120 1903
MERGASHILSKI Shmuel   #120 1903
MICHEL Chaim   #34 1903
MICHEL Risha   #34 1903
MICHEL Shmuel   #34 1903
MIKALISHKAYA Toiba   #34 1903
MIKALISHSKAIA Leah   #120 1903
MILER Betzalel   #34 1903
MILLER Sarah   #120 1903
MILMEISTER Rivka   #34 1903
MINSK Alte   #120 1903
MOLK Aizik   #120 1903
MOLK Chaya Gitl   #34 1903
MOLK Mordechai   #120 1903
MOLK Yakov   #120 1903
NACHUMOWITZ Rivka   #120 1903
NODEL Moshe Hacohen   #120 1903
OZWALK Eliahu ben Yisroel Yehoshua   #120 1903
OZWALK Yisroel Yehoshua, father of Eliyahu   #120 1903
PINCHOSEWITZ Avraham Yitzchok   #120 1903
PINTZOK Leib   #120 1903
POLOTINSKI Mordechai   #120 1903
POSTER Mendel   #120 1903
POTASHNIK Mordechai   #120 1903
POTZ Eli Zalman   #120 1903
RABINOWITZ Elchanan   #120 1903
RABINOWITZ Leah   #120 1903
RABINOWITZ M A for victims of Bobriusk fire #224 1902
RABINOWITZ Moshe Aharon   #120 1903
RABINOWITZ Moshe Aharon husband of Ella Berman from Libau wed 1 Nov 1902 #34 1903
REZNIK Chaim Moshe   #120 1903
REZNIK Dina   #34 1903
REZNIK Gershon   #120 1903
REZNIK Mina   #120 1903
REZNIK Moshe ben Michel   #120 1903
REZNIK Moshe Lipman   #120 1903
REZNIK Nachman for victims of Bobriusk fire #224 1902
REZNIK Nachman   #120 1903
REZNIK Tzipa   #120 1903
REZNIK Yakov   #120 1903
REZNIK Yechiel Michel   #120 1903
REZNIKOV Menachem Mendil   #120 1903
REZNIKOW Mendel   #34 1903
ROFF Avraham Yitzchok   #120 1903
ROTMAN Leib   #120 1903
ROTMAN Zelig   #120 1903
RUBANENKA Mendel for victims of Bobruisk fire #224 1902
SAPIRSHTEIN Risa   #120 1903
SEGAL Alter   #120 1903
SEGAL Chana   #120 1903
SHALSKI Zusman   #120 1903
SHAPIRO Basia   #34 1903
SHAPIRO Golde Rivka   #120 1903
SHAPIRO Note for victims of Bobruisk fire #224 1902
SHAPIRO Note Yakov   #120 1903
SHAPIRO Note Yakov   #120 1903
SHAPIRO Note Yakov   #34 1903
SHARPONOWITZ Shimshon   #120 1903
SHER Avraham Eliezer   #120 1903
SHER Bas Sheva   #34 1903
SHER Dovid   #120 1903
SHER Gitl   #34 1903
SHMIT Nachum Zev   #120 1903
SHMUELOWITZ Medel   #120 1903
SHOCH Ester Gitl   #120 1903
SHOR Ester   #120 1903
SLOWIANISHSKAYA Riza   #34 1903
SOBON Chaim   #120 1903
SOBON Meir   #120 1903
SOLTOFSKI Yosef from Rogowe #120 1903
STOLER Aizik   #120 1903
TOBIANSKI Figa   #120 1903
TOIB Tzerna   #120 1903
TROKMAN Meir Leib   #120 1903
TROKMAN Meir Leib   #120 1903
TZIGON Chaim   #120 1903
WALERSHTEIN Getzil Zev   #120 1903
WALERSHTEIN Pesa   #34 1903
WASERTZWEIG Dovid   #120 1903
WEINER Nachum   #120 1903
WINIK Tzvi Asher   #120 1903
WISHNEWITZ Freidel   #120 1903
WOLFOWITZ Nechama   #120 1903
WOLK Shmuel Yosef   #120 1903
YAFE Chava   #120 1903
YAFE Yisroel   #120 1903
YAKOBSOHN Hinda   #120 1903
YASHPAN Meir for victims of Bobruisk fire #224 1902
YASHPAN Meir #120 1903
YASHPAN Ruchama widow #34 1903
YERUCHAMOWITZ Zalman Moshe   #120 1903
YONES Meir   #120 1903
YUTER Moshe   #120 1903
ZAKS Zev   #120 1903
ZIW Zev   #120 1903
ZOLK Bluma Hade   #120 1903
 
  Moshe ben Binyomin   #120 1903
  Nechama Risa   #120 1903
  Shraga Yosef   #120 1903
  Zev ben Yehuda   #120 1903

 

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