1 Execution site(s)
Kazimieras D., born in 1926, remembers the scene of the crime just after the mass execution: “I came from the town with my friend to see the execution place right after it was over. We saw the feet of a girl sticking out of the ground, and we covered them with earth. […] There was some hair left on the trunk of the pine tree. I suppose that the girls were hit against the tree and thrown into the pit.”
(Witness N°106, interviewed in Alsėdžiai, on October 20, 2014)
The first Jews, two men and two women, were reported living in Alsėdžiai in records dating back to 1662. By WWI, the number of Jews in the town had reached 300. They made a living from selling merchandise, crafts and agriculture, taking advantage of weekly markets and four annual fairs organized in the town. However, the town didn’t develop fast because of its distance to the railroad. Jews ran two tanneries, two flour mills and a factory for wooden screws that were sold all over Russia. Jews also owned a bakery, butcher shop, shoe and hat workshops. A wooden synagogue was built in 1932-1934. There were “Talmud Torah” and “Tarbut” schools in the town, as well as a “Maccabi” branch. 30 Jewish families, or about 150 people, live in Alsėdžiai on the eve of WWII. German forces entered the town several days after the beginning of the war.
During the first days of the occupation, the Jews were registered, and anti-Jewish measures were introduced, including the confiscation of their valuables. On July 5, they were forced to move to the ghetto that consisted of the synagogue, the bathhouse and two other houses. Jewish men were subjected to humiliation and forced to perform various labor tasks, such as removing weeds or cleaning latrines. When armed executioners arrived from Telšiai to exterminate the Jews in Alsėdžiai, the local priest, Dumbrauskas, intervened, saying that the executioners had to kill him first. The mass execution was averted, but instead, all the Jews were taken to the Viešvenai and Rainiai camps near Telšiai and perished there in July and August 1941. As a reprisal against the priest Dumbraskas, almost 30 women and children from the Telšiai ghetto were brought near his house and shot. This shooting happened on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1941, – the day of the liquidation of the Telšiai ghetto.
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