Historian & Electronics Engineer
Expulsion and Extermination
Holocaust Testimonials from Provincial Lithuania
by David Bankier
Lithuania ranks among the countries with the largest percentage of Jewish victims during the Holocaust. Of the approximately quarter of a million Jews who lived within its borders at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, only some eight thousand were fortunate to see the end of the Nazi occupation. Moreover, the rural Jewry that lived in townlets or villages in the Lithuanian province was totally annihilated already during the first few months of the war. The intensity of its massacres was unprecedented. It was not the killing of selected victims but the obliteration of entire communities and an inhuman, unimaginable face-to-face murder of utterly hopeless people, including old, women, children and even infants.
Whereas the extermination process of the Jews in the Lithuanian big cities has been studied in detail, the fate of the Jewish communities in the Lithuanian province was not given proper consideration. The few studies that do exist are based almost exclusively on documents of the perpetrators.
This book intends to tell about the annihilation of these provincial communities, relying on rich documentary evidence of the survivors – selected from Leyb Koniuchovsky’s collection at Yad Vashem. It provides a complete picture of the Jewish experience – the humiliation, stigmatization, isolation, slave labor and the suffering in ghettos before Jews were put to death. It describes the active and massive participation of the Lithuanians in the persecution and murder, and reveals the extent to which conditions in the Lithuanian province affected the dynamics of the ‘Final Solution’.