Tolerance education center of the gymnasium in Kalvarija started implementation of a project “A lost community”

Tolerance education center of the gymnasium in Kalvarija started implementation of a project “A lost community”. The team of the Tolerance education center (teachers and pupils) began collecting data on Jews, who had lived in Kalvarija; some of them were deported to Siberia during the first Soviet occupation, and others were killed during the Holocaust in Lithuania.

The team from the gymnasium is working with the database of the archives in Yad Vashem (Yad Vashem is an Institute for Holocaust research and commemoration in Israel) to find information on the Jews, killed during the Holocaust. The names of the Jews of Kalvarija are being collected, as well as the stories even though sparsely documented. According to Ms. Arūnė Vasanaitė – Levuškinienė, coordinator of the Tolerance education center, deputy director of the gymnasium and history teacher, “the collection of material began to reveal stories of families and individuals, which were as if hidden by gray statistics. Now the names are getting back their faces, we follow their fates“.

As an illustration about the Jews from Kalvarija, the coordinator of the Tolerance education center mentioned the family of Kringel, a family of big businessmen, whose information was found in Yad Vashem database on Shoah victims. One member of this family was an artist, two brothers had a factory for oil and varnish in Alytus. The Kringels were killed in Lithuania, most likely in Marijampolė. Another story discovered is the story of Abel Blumenzon, a citizen of Kalvarija. He was a merchant, a member of the town council of Kalvarija in the interwar Lithuania, a deputy burgermeister, a member of the Šauliai (Riflemen‘s) organization. He was awarded the order of Vytautas the Great (2nd degree medal). After the Soviet occupation of Lithuania,  in 1941 he was deported with his family and shot down as a people’s enemy in Kansk, the region of Krasnoyarsk.

The project is planned to be completed in autumn, with the first commemoration stone (Stolpersteine) in Kalvarija embedded in the pavement. A list of the Jewish victims of Kalvarija will be prepared and set out at the new premises of the town library. Family stories of the Jews of Kalvarija, which were discovered will be posted on Facebook.

Project activities are coordinated with Kalvarija regional museum, Kalvarija public library, Kalvarija municipal administration. Representatives of the Jewish community in Lithuania and in Israel assist in translations of the notes and inscriptions from the information searched.