Liudvinavas (Ludvinove in Yiddish) is situated in the southwestern part of Lithuania, about 9 km. south of the district administrative center of Mariampol (Marijampole), on the banks of the Sesupe River and on the road to Alite (Alytus). It developed from a lodging place for hunters into a town and in 1719 it was granted the Magdeburg Rights for self-rule.
Until 1795 Ludvinove 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. The part of the country that lay to the west of the Nieman (Nemunas) River, including Ludvinove, was handed over to Prussia. From 1795 to 1807 the town was under Prussian rule. Between 1807 and 1813 Ludvinove was controlled by the Great Dukedom of Warsaw. In 1813, after the defeat of Napoleon, all of Lithuania was annexed to Russia, and Ludvinove was included in the Augustowa province (Gubernia) and in subsequent years in the Suwalk Gubernia. In the years of independent Lithuania (1918-1940) Ludvinove was a county administrative center. In World War I, in the first half of 1915, the town was on the front line between the Russian and the German armies and as a result it was totally destroyed by fire.
There were eight Jews in Ludvinove in 1662, but only after they were granted privileges from King August III on May 21, 1742, did Jews began to settle there. Most of them dealt in commerce and the others in agriculture. Their economic situation was then fair. In 1856, the population was 1,528 including 1,055 Jews (69%).
In 1886 a fire burned down half of the town including the synagogue and the Beth Midrash with their entire contents. On Hol Hamoed Succoth of 5649 (1888) a big fire destroyed about 300 houses. Wealthy people lost everything and needed aid from neighboring communities. On October 4, 1888 the Hebrew newspaper HaMelitz reported on the generous help that the Jewish community of Kalvarija gave to the victims of the fire.
According to the all-Russian census of 1897 the town's population had decreased, in particular the number and percentage of Jews: in that year there were 1,098 residents including 369 Jews (34 %).
Before World War I Rabbi Yehudah-Leib son of Rabbi Menakhem-Mendel Ostrinsky officiated in Ludvinove.
In a list of donors for the settlement of Eretz Yisrael the names of two families appear (see Appendix 1).
After the war and the establishment of Independent Lithuania in 1918, the number of Jews in the town decreased again. A number of those who escaped to Russia at the beginning of World War I did not return and others emigrated to overseas countries. The first census performed by the new Lithuanian government in 1923 counted 593 residents in Ludvinove, 85 of them being Jewish (14%).
The Jews who remained made their living in trade and farming. According to the government survey of 1931 there were two Jewish merchants in town: one sold meat and the other leather. A branch of The Society for Credit to Jewish Agrarians operated in the town.
In 1939 thirty-five telephone subscribers were in Ludvinove, six of them Jewish.
Next to the town was a farm owned by the Jewish Nun family. In 1940 a Kibbutz Hakhsharah for Hekhalutz youth who had escaped from Poland was established on this farm. Helped by the Joint a group of fourteen Halutzim, ten boys and four girls, was settled there. They worked in the vegetable garden that was allocated for them. This kibbutz continued during the Lithuanian-Soviet rule, until December 1940.
In June 1940 Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union and became a Soviet Republic. At the time there were 650 residents in the town, including about twenty Jewish families. According to Soviet economic policy some Jewish businesses were nationalized and the Jews' standard of living declined.
The Lithuanian Soviet rule ended with the invasion of the German army on June 22, 1941. On the first day of the war German soldiers entered Ludvinove. No details are available about the life of the Jews in the town during the Soviet rule and the few months of Nazi occupation until September 1, 1941 (9th of Elul, 5701). On that date Ludvinove Jews were murdered together with the Jews of Mariampol and the surrounding towns, and buried in mass graves behind the barracks on the bank of the River Sesupe near Mariampol (Marijampole).
|A group of survivors at the massacre site on a commemoration in the 1970s|
The site of the mass graves
near the military barracks and the monument at the site
The inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian reads: Here blood was spilled of about 8000 Jewish children, women, men and of 1000 people of different nationalities, that the Nazis and their local helpers cruelly murdered in September 1941.
|The monument on the mass graves|
Gotlib, Ohalei Shem, page 105
Bromberg, Kh, Miklath Zemani BeLita (A temporary shelter in Lithuania), testimony, Ghetto Fighters House, Brochure # 5 (1992)
HaMelitz, St.Petersburg, 4.10.1888
Di Yiddishe Shtime, Kovno, 25.4.1938
Two families from Ludvinove who donated money for the settlement of Eretz Yisrael
on the occasion of their weddings as published in HaMelitz
(from JewishGen>Databases>Lithuania>Hamelitz by Jeffrey Maynard)
|LIFSHITZ||Nechemiah husband of Beile Rivka Finkelshtein of Shaki||Ludwinova, Lith.||#192||1893|
|WINTZBERG||Rochel Leah wife of Yosef Garbarski of Serhai||wed||Ludwinova, Lith.||#142||1898|
The above article is an excerpt from Protecting Our Litvak Heritage by Josef Rosin. The book contains this article along with many others, plus an extensive description of the Litvak Jewish community in Lithuania that provides an excellent context to understand the above article. Click here to see where to obtain the book.
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