Gelvonai Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Vilnius
District
Sirvintos
Settlement
Gelvonai
Site address
Gelvonai Jewish Cemetery
GPS coordinates
 55.06103, 24.68998
Perimeter length
223 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
yes
Type and height of existing fence
Type of the fence
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery. The cemetery is well-maintained.
Number of existing gravestones
13. Most of the inscriptions are illegible.
Date of oldest tombstone
1880 (the earliest tombstone found by ESJF).
Date of newest tombstone
1900 (the latest tombstone found by ESJF).
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys
No

Historical overview

The oldest preserved tombstone is dated 1880, so it can be inferred the cemetery was founded no later than the late 19th century.

Jews began to settle in Gelvonai (Pl. Giełwany, Yid. געלוואַן) in the 17th century. One of the gravestones in the cemetery dates back to 1659. Prior to WWI, the town was considered prosperous. In 1914, the Jewish population was about 90 families, or 90% of the total. In the interwar period, the links with Vilnius were severed, which had a negative effect on the town’s economy. The town had a Jewish school, a Hebrew and a Yiddish libraries. A branch of the Jewish People’s Bank (Folksbank) was opened in 1930. There were about 450 Jews in Gelvonai before WWII broke out. After the German invasion in 1941, the Jews were harrassed by Lithuanian nationalists. In July, the Jews were taken to a marsh while their houses were looted. The priest condemned the thieves, and some of the property was returned. On 5 September 1941, all of Gelvonai’s Jews were murdered in the Pivonija forest. Only one family was able to hide on a farm, but they were soon found and handed over to the Germans.

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