The Road of Memory in Mažeikiai

On 29 July, a commemoration event was held in Mažeikiai to commemorate the murdered Jews of Mažeikiai and to honor the victims of the Holocaust.

The extermination of the Jewish community of Mažeikiai began at the end of July of 1941. Teachers and students from Tolerance Education Centers operating in Mažeikiai Merkelis Račkauskas and Mažeikiai Gabija Gymnasiums gathered to remember the events of 80 years. Vidmantas Macevičius, the Mayor of Mažeikiai, together with the employees of the municipality and the representatives of the Mažeikiai Museum, library and newspaper “Santarvė” lined up for the procession of the Road of Memory. Accompanied by her husband, Consul Adi Cohen Hazanov, the Deputy Ambassador of Israel, arrived to join the Road of Memory. The event was also attended by Genovaitė Dugnienė, who received the title of Righteous Among the Nations for the Jews’ rescue, and Rita Jankauskaitė and Rolandas Jankauskas, grandchildren of Jewish rescuers, whose grandparents saved a child known today as the poet, publicist Alfonsas Bukontas. Sania Kerbelis, the chairman of the Šiauliai county community, came to march along the Road of Memory together with some community members.

The procession of the Road of Memory began from the former mill by the Venta. (In 1941, there was the Lačas barn, where the Jews of Mažeikiai were imprisoned for some time). The procession of the participants went to the old Jewish cemetery, called Pavenčiai, where the Jews of Mažeikiai- children, women, and men, were shot on 30 July 1941.

Mrs. Adi Cohen Hazanov, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the State of Israel to Lithuania, told a story of her husband’s family who came from a Litvak family – from Laižuva. According to Consul Adi Cohen Hazanov, if the husband‘s grandparents had not managed to leave Lithuania, they would have become victims of the Holocaust as well. Sania Kerbel, the chairman of the Jewish community in Šiauliai county, told the audience that “the Holocaust directly affected my family and the fact that I am here is just a miracle”. In his speech, Sania Kerbelis spoke about Jewish rescuers who saved not only the Jews but also the honor of Lithuania.

After laying memorial stones at the monument to the murdered people, Vidmantas Macevičius, the Mayor of Mažeikiai said that “If we want to move forward, we need to know our history. The roots of anti-Semitism must be destroyed before they sprout”.

The Holocaust Remembrance event – the Road of Memory in Mažeikiai was organized by the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania together with Mažeikiai Merkelis Račkauskas Gymnasium, Mažeikiai District Municipality, Mažeikiai Museum, Mažeikiai Gabija Gymnasium, and Mažeikiai newspaper “Santarvė”.


                Photos by Algirdas Vilkas