A History Lesson for Students at the Paneriai Memorial

On 26 May 2022, students from three 10th grade classes of Grigiškės Gymnasium visited the Paneriai Memorial, where their teacher Božena Senkevič gave a history and citizenship lesson “The Holocaust and Genocide in Lithuania during the Nazis occupation in 1941-1944”.

Grigiskes Gymnasium students visited the site where the genocide against humanity was committed. During World War II, the Nazis and their collaborators in Paneriai massacred about 100,000 people of various nationalities: Jews, Roma, Poles, Russians, and Belarusians. The largest number of people killed in Paneriai by ethnicity were Jews. Around 15,000 Poles were killed in Paneriai. Most of them were young people between 15 and 17. Many of them had fought against the Nazis in the underground. There were many Vilnius University professors, priests, and members of the Armia Krajowa among them, who had fought against the Nazi occupation and were killed in Paneriai.

We visited the Paneriai Memorial Museum, which displays documentary material such as orders and documents issued by the Nazi authorities, personal belongings of the murdered, children’s items found in the Paneriai pits, and various archaeological findings.

We experienced many deep emotions when we visited the burial pits where innocent people were brutally murdered. Tears welled up in the students’ eyes when the teacher told them about the massacre in Paneriai. The students prepared for the lesson by reading and narrating important information from historical sources. We lit candles at the pits and memorials. In Paneriai, we had a unique opportunity to meet the participants of the 5th Litvak Congress, who at the same time were visiting the Paneriai Memorial to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Not only did the students see Litvaks coming to Lithuania from all over the world, but they also had a unique opportunity to hear a prayer.

Božena Senkevič, history teacher-methodologist, Grigiškės Gymnasium