Commemoration of the destruction of Šiauliai county Jews and the Road of Memory in the Luponiai forest, near Kužiai

On July 18, commemoration events took place in Šiauliai and in Kužiai eldership to mark the destruction of the local Jewish community that began 80 years ago.

The commemorative events began in Šiauliai, near the old Jewish cemetery, in the place where the ghetto for Šiauliai Jews was established in 1941. Later, the commemoration continued near the streets of Ežero and Trakų, next to the monumental stone, which marked the place of the gate leading to the Šiauliai ghetto. Sania Kerbelis, the chairman of the Jewish community of Šiauliai county, told the audience not only about the residents of the ghetto, who experienced brutality and cruelty but also introduced the immortalization of the rescuers of the Jews – the Righteous of the nations in Šiauliai – an alley dedicated to the Righteous. Later, the participants of the event visited the site of the Jews massacre in the Gubernia forest, where about 1,000 Jews were killed.

The marching of the Road of Memory started from the township of Kužiai to the Luponiai forest. About 2 km on foot, on the road where the people were marched to death, on Sunday, July 18th, members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, diplomats from the USA, Israel, Denmark, members of the Jewish community of Šiauliai county, leaders of religious Jewish communities from Kaunas and Vilnius, representatives from Šiauliai city and district municipalities, several teachers with students from Kužiai gymnasium, representatives of Kužiai eldership, descendants of Jewish rescuers from Šiauliai.

The Chairman of the International Commission, Member of the Seimas Emanuelis Zingeris said that it was impossible to understand with common sense how civilians were killed because about 8,000 Jews of Šiauliai County were killed in this area. After the prayer for the murdered, the participants of the event visited the graves in the Luponiai forest – the sites where people were killed.

The event was honored by the Ambassador of the United States of America Robert S. Gilchrist, the Ambassador of the State of Israel Yossef Levy, the Deputy Mission of the Danish Embassy Jakob Greve Kromann, members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania: Emanuelis Zingeris and Rima Baškienė, Šiauliai Deputy Mayor Simona Potelienė, a member of Šiauliai regional municipality council Algis Mačiulis, members of the Šiauliai County Jewish community, Mauša Bairakas – the leader of the Kaunas Jewish religious community and Simonas Levinas – the leader of the Vilnius religious Jewish community, teachers of Kužiai gymnasium with students, and other guests.

The event was organized by the Secretariat of the International Commission together with the Jewish community of Šiauliai County and the Tolerance Education Center of Kužiai Gymnasium.

   Moments from the event:

Photos by Ričardas Vitkus