A crowd of students, teachers and principals stood in Vilnius’s historic Ghetto Victims (Rūdninkai) Square as they listened to the speeches and watched the performances of their classmates. Lithuanian politicians, representatives of various institutions and of the Lithuanian Jewish community, and foreign diplomats were also in attendance.

Each year on Sept. 23, the day in 1943 the Nazis began to liquidate the Vilnius Ghetto, Lithuania marks the genocide of its entire Jewish community in cities and towns throughout the country. Fewer than 25,000 Lithuanian Jews survived from a prewar total of approximately 250,000.

The group gathered to retrace the final steps of Vilnius’s Jews 81 years ago, by marching from Rūdninkai Square to the city’s railway station, where they took a train to the Ponary Forest a few miles to the south. From the Ponary railway station, the participants walked to the memorial site situated in the forest, where they partook in the official event to mark the genocide of Lithuania’s Jews.

Unlike in most of Europe, most of the Holocaust victims in Lithuania were killed near where they lived. From the summer of 1941 through the winter of 1943, Lithuania’s Jewish communities were destroyed. Today, there are more than 200 massacre sites of Holocaust victims throughout the country.... Read More: JNS