Grinkiskis Jewish Cemetery
Grinkiskis (Grinkishok in Yiddish) is a small town in the middle of Lithuania, in Siauliai County. The Grinkiskis wooden synagogue was mentioned in historic annals as early as in the 17th century, alluding to a Jewish community in the town at this time. Despite the increased population growth in the second half of the 19th century, the economic condition of the Jews was difficult. The Jews made a living from shops and craftwork. The commercial activity centred around the weekly market day. The community however was poor and often had trouble sparing money to cover expenses such as candles in the Beit Midrash.
After the creation of the Lithuanian independent state, despite the constant decrease in the number of Jews in the town (235 Jews in 1923), they continued to have a vigorous public life. In the elections to the first Lithuanian Parliament, 84 people voted for the Zionists, 38 for Agudat Yisrael and 8 for the Democrats. Bnei Akiva was one of the youth movements active in the town, whose activity became forbidden under the Soviet regime (1940-1941). According to a survey conducted by the government in 1931 the Jews in Grinkiskis owned: 3 textile shops, 2 meat shops, 2 flour mills, one shop selling sewing machines, a watchmaker’s shop, and a bakery. In 1939, the town had 8 Jewish artisans, 4 butchers, a baker, a photographer, and a shoemaker.
About 200 Jews were still living in Grinkiskis at the time of the German invasion, on June 22nd 1941. At the end of August 1941, armed Lithuanians led the entire Jewish community of Grinkiskis to the nearby town of Kriukai and murdered them there on September 2nd 1941, together with the local Jews.
During the Second World War, the town was almost entirely destroyed by military action.
The exact date of establishment of the cemetery is unknown. Apparently, the Jews acquired the plot of land for their burials together with the permission to settle in the town. Until the 19th century, this cemetery was used not only by the Jewish community of Grinkiskis but also by the Baisogala Jews, which did not have their own cemetery. The territory of the cemetery was much bigger in comparison to the plot fenced today: during the Soviet era, the cemetery was partly destroyed, because the place was used for gravel mining. In 1996, when the cemetery was included in the national list of Cultural Heritage of Lithuania, 121 tombstones and their fragments were found at the cemetery. There is a memorial stone, informing visitors about the purpose of the territory.