Obj. ID: 47108 Original Jewish monument in Paneriai, Lithuania, 1948
No official name
Who is Commemorated?
Jews murdered by the Nazis in Paneriai.
The monument was a granite pier standing on a larger granite base. The pier was topped by a granite globe; four similar globes were placed at the four corners of the base. The front side of the pier had a plaque featuring Yiddish with Hebrew and Russian inscriptions. Above the plaque, the monument was decorated with a metal torch.
The monument was surrounded by small piers connected by a chain. Additional fencing enclosed the plot of the monument.
In Yiddish with Hebrew:
פאר די אומגעבראכטע קדושים
ווילהער או אנדערע יידען
דורך די היטלערידטיש-
שונאים פון דער מענטשהייט
קול דמי נקיים צועקים מן האדמה [בראשית ד, י]
נקום נקמת דם הקדושים השפוך
ת'ש'א' מנחם אב ת'ש'ד'
Translation: Ponary. Eternal memory / for the martyrs, Jews of Vilnius and vicinity, annihilated by the Hitlerite-Fascist murderers, enemies of humankind. The voice of the blood of the pure is crying from the ground [After Gen. 4:10]. Revenge the revenge of spilled martyrs’ blood. (5)701 Menahem Av (5)704. May their souls be bound in the bundle of life.
убийц злейших врагов
Июль 1941 – июль 1944
Translation: Ponary. Eternal memory / to the Jews annihilated by the German-Fascist / murderers, the bitterest enemies / of humankind. / July 1941 – July 1944.
The Jewish community of Vilnius.
Building/site does not exist
| currently, Agrastų St. 15
The Vilnius Jewish community petitioned the Plenipotentiary for Religious Cults of Lithuania, Pushinis, to organize a memorial in Ponary in late 1946, and he supported their petition and transferred it to the Soviet Lithuanian government (Altshuler 2002, 280-281).
According to the Paneriai Museum website, "The first monument at the mass killing site was erected in May 1948 by the Jews who survived the Holocaust. They raised funds and built a monument with an inscription in Russian and Yiddish to commemorate the Jews who were killed. … The Soviet censors and the secret police did not approve of the religious tone of the inscription in Yiddish and Hebrew; they also did not appreciate the different wording of the inscriptions in various languages, which was interpreted as manifestations of Jewish disloyalty and nationalism. In order to stop any Jewish public activities, the monument was not officially unveiled, although the Jewish community had hoped to do so on the day of Yom Kippur.”
Soviet authorities viewed the new monument with suspicion. A report signed on April 15, 1949, by Major General Kapralov, deputy minister of State Security of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, sheds light on the erection of the monument. According to the report, which was based on the testimonials of secret informants, the design of the monument was prepared by painter Klein Mikhail, and its inscriptions were composed by rabbi Haim Tzvi Shifrin (the chief rabbi of Vilnius after WWII), the chairman of the Jewish community Grigory Kab, and a member of the community Goltfard. Klein received 400 rubles from the Jewish community for this work. The general cost of the monument was about 70 or 80 thousand rubles. 15,000 rubles were collected by the Jews, while the rest was paid by the Jewish community. Money were collected by the “Jewish nationalist” Yudel Bengis, and “members of the community” ritual slaughterer Shmidtas, ritual slaughterer Krenkel, and Verbovskii. The report states that the initiators of the erection of the monument were the members of the community David Gordon (director of a storage), Ilia Eishishek, and David Zhitomirskii (official in the Ministry of Building of the Lithuanian SSR). Building works were directed by the community chairman Kab. The permission to erect the monument was given by the chairman of the ispolkom of Trakai region. (Lietuvos Ypatingasis Archyvas, f. K-1, ap. 10, b. 30, l. 221, accessible at https://www.archyvai.lt/lt/lya_parodos/vilniaus-getas.html, photograph 65.)
Subsequently, the monument was demolished. According to the Paneriai Museum website, “during the Kremlin-initiated anti-Semitic campaign between 1949 and 1952, the monument was pulled down and replaced with an obelisk bearing the inscription “In memory of the victims of Fascism”, which reflected the memorial policy of the Soviet state, levelling all victims of the Nazi regime by naming them ‘Soviet citizens’, ‘Soviet people’, ‘peaceful civilians’, ‘Lithuanian residents’, ‘men, women and children’."
Altshuler, Mordechai, "Jewish Holocaust Commemoration Activity in the USSR under Stalin," Yad Vashem Studies 30 (2002): 271-295., 280.
Guzenberg, Irina, Vilnius: Traces of the Jewish Jerusalem of Lithuania. Memorable Sites of Jewish History and Culture. A Guidebook (Vilnius: Pavilniai, 2021)., 737.
Website of The Paneriai Memorial of Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, "The first monument to commemorate the Jews and the Soviet monument in memory of the victims of Fascism," https://www.paneriumemorialas.lt/en/sovietinis-obeliskas-m10/., https://www.paneriumemorialas.lt/en/objektai/ (accessed January 25, 2023)
Zeltser, Arkadi. Unwelcome Memory: Holocaust Monuments in the Soviet Union, trans. A.S. Brown (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2018), 114, 124, 139, 179, 209-210, 234, 273, 306.