On 25 April, an event was held at the Pakruojis “Atžalynas” gymnasium to commemorate the Jewish community of Pakruojis that was annihilated in 1941.
The Pakruojis “Atžalynas” gymnasium community is participating in a project in 2023 to commemorate the Jewish community that was brutally liquidated in 1941. Ingrida Vilkienė, the International Commission’s Education Programs Coordinator, met with the gymnasium students and presented them with the book “The Holocaust in the Province of Lithuania in 1941” by historian Arūnas Bubnys, published by the International Commission. Based on the historian’s research, the guest speaker spoke to the students not only about the destruction of the Jews of Pakruojis, the Linkuva and Pakruojis White bands who took part in the shooting but also about the unsuccessful attempts of the local population to save the Pakruojis doctor Šreiberis and other local Jews.
During the event, several students shared the activities they had carried out, the information they had found about the life of the Jews of Pakruojis before the Second World War and the preserved Jewish cultural heritage in Pakruojis. Gabija Juozaitytė read a poem that she had written during her participation in the project:
Life is not all roses,
When it is Germanized
Hitler, poverty, and death
The unforgettable exile…
The daily fear of the Jews
That their lives are in danger,
The genocide of innocent people
When nothing is solved by words.
No matter what they say
All will be destined by death.
According to Gitana Maasienė, the project coordinator and librarian of the Pakruojis Synagogue, Pakruojis is full of Jewish cultural symbols that tell the story of local Jews. For example, in the center of Pakruojis, there is a shed of the Firefighters’ Association, built with the support of the Jewish community of Pakruojis. The “Civic” hall in the shed has been the venue for events attended by both Lithuanians and Jews together. However, when the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust began, the personal belongings of the murdered Jews were stacked in this building.
At the end of the event, Gražina Kairiūkštienė, a history teacher at the gymnasium, summarized that history is neither black nor white. Still, to understand the present, we need to look back to the past and ask questions and, at the very same time, find answers.