Akmene Jewish Cemetery
Akmene (Akmian in Yiddish) is a town in northern Lithuania. Jews first settled in Akmene in the middle of the 18th century. They made their living through peddling in the neighbouring towns and by crafts. A small number supported themselves by agriculture. In the first half of the 19th century, Jews comprised around two-thirds of the population of the town. During World War I, in 1915, the Jews were expelled from Akmene to central Russia, many of them never returned. The emigration of the Jews from the town continued during the period of Lithuanian independence, mainly due to the difficult economic conditions. According to a survey taken by the Lithuanian government in 1931, there were 11 Jewish shop owners and 7 Jewish craftsmen in the town. Many were helped by loans they received from the Jewish folk bank (Folksbank) that had a branch in Akmene.
Despite the constant fall in the number of the Jewish community, the activities of the major organizations and institutions continued, such as the synagogue and the “Yavne” School network. Many of the Jews of Akmene were members of the Zionist camp. Jewish voters in Akmene elected the first Seim in 1922, the Zionist party received 66 votes, while the religious party “Achdut” recieved only 31 and the Democratic party, 1 vote. The active Zionist youth movements in Akmene were Hashomer Hatzair and Betar.
At the end of June 1941, a short time after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Jews were transferred to the barracks on the bank of the river Venta, near Mazeikiai. All of them were murdered together with the Jews of Mazeikiai and its surroundings on August 9th 1941. A few years after the war the place where they were murdered was fenced and a black marble monument was set up.
It is likely that the cemetery was opened in the second part of the 18th century, concurrently with the establishment of the Jewish Community in Akmene. The cemetery was in use until World War II. Only half of the former cemetery has survived until today. The area is marked by a hedge and concrete columns. In the northern part of the cemetery, an original stone fence still exists. The Akmene school expedition in 2011 counted 125 tombstones, of which the oldest one was dated back to 1866 and the most recent from 1925. The majority of the gravestones have carved epitaphs in the Hebrew language, however, some tombstones were found with inscriptions in Yiddish. The cemetery was included in the Register of Immovable Cultural Property of the Republic of Lithuania, in 2003. There is a memorial stone, written in Yiddish, Hebrew and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. Sacred is the memory of the deceased”.