Destruction of Jewish Kovno
(Kaunas, Lithuania)


Translation of
Umkum fun der Yidisher Kovne

Published by the JewishGen Press

Editor of Original Book: Joseph Gar
Translator and Project Coordinator: Ettie Zilber
Cover Design: Rachel Kolokoff Hopper
Layout: Jonathan Wind
8.5” x 11” Hardcover 272 pages with original photos

Available from for $33.00



The ghetto in Kovno has its own tragic place in history because of the cruelty of conditions there and the revolt of Jews towards the end of its days. The dire circumstances of the ghetto became more widely known after World War II with the discovery of secret archives, diaries, drawings, and photographs that had been buried in the ground when the ghetto was destroyed. These told the story of Jewish community's defiance, oppression, resistance, and death.

Between 1920 and 1939, Kovno, was the country's capital and largest city. From a small provincial city, it grew into a modern city, and became an example of the traditions of the historically famous Lithuanian Jewry.

Approximately 32,000 Jews lived in Kovno about one-fourth of the city's total population, before the Germans and their Lithuanian helpers began their systematic massacres in 1941.

This book was written in the years just after the war and drew on interviews with Kovno survivors after their liberation, many of them in Displaced Persons camps. The Preface says that this is the first book laying out a detailed account of what happened in the Ghetto.

At its peak, the ghetto held an estimated 29,000 people, most of whom were later sent to concentration and extermination camps or were shot after being rounded up and crowded into the notorious “9th Fort,” one of several that had been constructed under the Russian Empire in the late nineteenth century for the defense of the city. The book describes the fort as one of the most horrible Nazi mass annihilation sites in Lithuania.

Kovno was liberated by the Red Army on August 1, 1944. A few days later, little by little, the few miraculously surviving Jews started to return to the city. Today, there are about 2,500 Jews in all of Lithuania. About 300 live in Kovno.

May this book serve as a memorial to Jewish Kovno, its people and the Jewish community that was so brutally destroyed.


Kaunas, Lithuania is located at 54°54' N 23°54' E and 58 miles WNW of Vilnius


Alternate names of the Town:

Kaunas [Lith], Kovno [Rus], Kovne [Yid], Kovna [Heb], Kowno [Pol], Kauen [Ger]


Nearby Jewish Communities:

Aleksotas 1 miles S
Vilijampolė 1 miles NNW
Aukštoji Panemunė 4 miles SE
Garliava 6 miles SSW
Zapyškis 9 miles W
Veiveriai 12 miles SW
Rumšiškes 12 miles ESE
Gyviai 13 miles SW
Pakuonis 14 miles SSE
Babtai 14 miles NNW
Darsuniškis 14 miles SE
Vandžiogala 15 miles N
Kruonis 16 miles SE
Vilkija 16 miles NW
Gudeliai 17 miles SW
Kazlų Rūda 18 miles WSW
Prienai 19 miles S
Jonava 20 miles NE
Višakio Rūda 20 miles WSW
Birštonas 20 miles SSE


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Updated 15 Dec 2023 by LA