The Jewish Cemtery in Vistytis

Way back in 2019 [I think] I took part in a project organized by MACEVA and Aktion Sühnezeichen where we cleaned and recorded the Jewish Cemetery of Vistytis.

Recently a friend of mine Toby Wolff visited both the Jewish Cemeteries of Vilkaviskis and Vistytis and here are pictures of the site 4 years afer our work.

Tony thank you your permission to use your wonderful pictures.

The family returns to Vilkaviskis

Avinoam and his 2 daughters return to Vilkaviskis.

Avinoam and his daughters at the entrance to the Jewish cemetery in Vilkaviskis

My father and his family are from Volkaviski he was born in 1914 to the Memĺovski family. He is a grandson of the Dayam ,Rabi Elhanan Katz. In 1934 he made Aliya to Israel. Tomorrow the 4-4-2023 me and my two doughters are coming to visit the town of Volkavisk and I`m very exiting to be there

Showing Avinoam’s father walking down the street in Vilkaviskis. The picture is part of an outdoor photographic exhibition that we created in the center of Vilkaviskis.

With our wonderful guide Irma in the center of Vilkaviskis.

Afternoon coffee and Irma’s cakes at Irma’s house !

An incredible Good Man, Alfons Hoping

Alfons is from Astrup  in Germany, he is deeply religiously motivated having suffered great personal loss in the past. He is constantly seeking new ways to help others. He has developed deep ties with the Vilkaviskis area and supports an orphanage in Alvitas [a village close to Vilkaviskis]

It was Alfons and his supporters who donated fire engines to the Vilkaviskis Municipality.

He works tirelessly to raise contributions for Ukrainian refugees in Lithuania.

I am deeply touched that Alfons does remember the Jewish Victims of Vilkaviskis. Thank you Alfons.

“The victims of the Holocaust are not forgotten”

From an interview with Vaida Kriščiūnienė teacher at the Salomėja Nėris Middle School in Vilkaviskis
January 2023

In commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the students of Vilkaviškis Salomėja Nėris middle school were invited to travel back in time – they went to the Auschwitz concentration camp

A red coat hung on a chair, shoes that walk into nothingness reminding the broken destinies of children, a lonely unicorn, a doll, a photo of a Jewish family – these are just a few things that were on the stage, which do not allow us to forget the victims of the holocaust who were terribly tortured

This year marks the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. On that occasion, the Lithuanian language teacher of Salomėja Nėris middle school invited the entire community of the institution to the lesson “Lullaby only from Auschwitz”.
Musical chords, movie clips, artistic texts and created scenography allowed the audience to empathize with the horrors of the Second World War and experience what the people of the Jewish nation experienced at that time

On the initiative of V. Kriščiūnienė, the memory of the victims of the Holocaust is being honored in the school not for the first time. Each year a different theme is chosen. This year, the fate of Jewish children was emphasized.
“We cannot forget these pages of history. This is especially relevant in the current context. In fact, today’s students know very little about the Holocaust. When they hear the stories related to this topic, they cannot believe that such horrible things happened. I think it is important to talk about it even more, to educate the younger generation. Therefore, we have to look for other ways to introduce children and the whole society in general to this part of history – said V Kriščiūnienė.

This year, in commemoration of the National Holocaust Remembrance Day, the memory of the murdered Jews was also honored with lit candles at the Vilakviškis Holocaust Memorial, on the initiative of a teacher.
Quite a few different events were also held at the Salomeja Nėries middle school.
In addition to the already mentioned lesson, “Lullaby only from Auschwitz”, readings of excerpts from works related to the topic of the Holocaust and their discussions were held at the institution.
Students of grades 6-8, based on books about the Holocaust, created illustrations and various drawings. Later, a video created from the drawings was shown in the school lobby.
The school community also joined the global commemoration campaign called ,,We Remember“.

Educator V. Kriščiūnienė constantly initiates and contributes to actions dedicated to the memory of the Jewish people. Commemorating the memory of the victims of the Genocide of the Jews of Lithuania and the International Holocaust Remembrance Days are just a few of them.
Back in 2019, on the initiative of a teacher, a Tolerance Education Center was established in Salomėja Nėries middle school, the purpose of which is to develop mutual tolerance among students, perpetuate the memory of the victims of the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes, and to develop and nurture the culture of human rights.

I am interested in reading books related to Jewish history, watching movies, other historical material. Every time I read stories about those who could have lived, but were destroyed, I empathize with their fates. That is why I wanted to educate the entire community of Vilkaviškis region. I think it’s working out little by little. It is clear that Ralph Salinger also does a great job here. I remember that it all started with the maintenance of cemeteries. Until we started organizing commemorations at the Vilkaviškis Holocaust Memorial, only a few people used to go there. Now the situation has changed. I think that society is beginning to understand that the Holocaust is not only a tragedy for the Jews who together created the state of Lithuania, but also for our nation, -V. Kriščiūnienė said.

“Every man has a name”

On International Holocaust Day please take a few minutes to listen to this very moving song

“Every person has a name”

Every man has a name

given to him by God

and by his father and mother

Every man has a name

given to him by his stature

and by the manner of his smile

and by his clothes

Every man has a name

given to him by the mountains

and by the walls of his house

Every man has a name

given to him by the zodiac

and by his neighbors

Every man has a name

Every man has a name

Every man has a name

given to him by his sins

and by his yearnings

Every man has a name

given to him by his enemies

and by his love

Every man has a name

given to him by his holidays

and by his profession

Every man has a name

given to him by the seasons

and by his blindness

Every man has a name

Every man has a name

Every man has a name

given to him by God31

and by his father and mother

Every man has a name

given to him by the sea

and by his death

The hand drawn map of Jewish Vilkaviskis . Drawn by memory by the late Dvorah Dolev

There were about 3500 Jews living in Vilkaviskis in 1941 and I continue to search for their names so that their memory will be preserved. I continue to press Yad Vashem to rekease the names of the Jewish vicitims recorded by the e ChGK  (Soviet Extraordinary Commission but they continue “not to play ball” I have now reached out to the United States Holocaust Museum in an attempt to receive the names.

I mentioned that I obtainned a copy of the names from the Vilkaviskis Ghetto Lists and this together with the names from the Pages of Testimony as well as records from various other sources I am creating a database in an attempt to record as many of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Vilkaviskis.

A sample of the database in progress

May their memories be blessed.

If you have any comments please write to me at