On 29 August, events were held in Kėdainiai to commemorate the destruction of the local Jewish community in 1941.
The commemorations began with the presentation of Dr. Aharon Pick’s memoirs of the Holocaust, ‘Notes from the Valley of Slaughter.’ The book, published in the United States, was presented at the Multicultural Centre of the Kėdainiai Regional Museum. Rimantas Žirgulis, director of the museum, opened the event by asking the book’s translator, journalist Andrew Cassel (USA), to tell the participants about Dr. Aharon Pick, who was imprisoned in the Šiauliai ghetto and wrote a diary in two languages, Yiddish and Hebrew. Andrew Cassel mentioned that the translation of Dr. Pick’s diary from Hebrew into English was prompted by personal interest – Andrew’s grandfather was also a Kėdainian, he was friends with Aharon Pick, and they had both studied in Europe. They had collected Jewish folklore together in their youth. So Andrew, the translator of the diary, wanted to get to know his grandfather’s friend better and learn more about Aharon Pick’s personality.
According to Simonas Strelcovas, director of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, who moderated the book’s presentation, “the voice of a scholar, the rhetoric of a scholar, is evident when reading the book.
Simonas Strelcovas asked the book’s translator, Andrew Cassel, about the perspective of the book “Notes from the Valley of Slaughter” from the translator’s point of view. The US guest replied that he hoped “the book will contribute to a deeper discussion among Lithuanians about what people imprisoned in the ghetto went through.”
After the presentation of the book, the director of the Kėdainiai Regional Museum invited the participants to visit the site of the Holocaust victims, where 2076 Jews from Kėdainiai were murdered on 28 August 1941.
After arriving in the village of Daukšiai, the participants walked a few hundred metres to the Holocaust Memorial. Rimantas Žirgulis, director of the Kėdainiai Regional Museum, who opened the ceremony, noted that the commemoration is held annually at this site. Speakers at the memorial included Aryeh Leonardas Ščerbakovas, head of the Kėdainiai Jewish Association in Israel, who was visiting with a group of Kėdainiai Litvaks, Constantine Lagosha, representative of the Israeli Embassy, Ingrida Vilkienė, coordinator of educational programs at the International Commission Secretariat, and Gercas Žakas, chairman of the Kaunas Jewish Community.
The events on 29 August were attended by representatives of Kėdainiai Municipality, teachers from the Tolerance Education Centres in Kėdainiai and Panevėžys, Litvaks from the USA and Israel with roots in Kėdainiai, and a representative of the Israeli Embassy, Members of the Jewish Community of Kaunas, the chairman of the Jewish Community of Šiauliai, representatives of the Association of the Jewish Cultural Heritage Route, the staff of the Secretariat of the International Commission, the staff of the Kėdainiai Regional Museum and the Municipality of Kėdainiai.
The commemorative event was organized by the Kėdainiai Regional Museum, the Kėdainiai District Municipality, the Kėdainiai Jewish Association in Israel, and the Secretariat of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.
Nuotraukos Algimanto Barzdžiaus