Ignalina Jewish Сemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Utena
District
Ignalina
Settlement
Ignalina
Site address
The cemetery is located not far from the Ignalina hospital on Ligoninės street. Take a left around 75m north of the hospital, by the Ignalina Heating Network building, and then proceed down the road for 150m until you reach a wood. The cemetery is located in the woods, 6 meters from the road.
GPS coordinates
55.34371, 26.15195
Perimeter length
165 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
The site is surrounded by metal mesh fence 0.5m in height.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is located in a wood, it is mostly clear however some of the graves have been damaged by trees and heavily covered by moss. There are many fallen pine needles.
Number of existing gravestones
30 (footings only). Only the footings of the tombstones have remained, all are deeply sunk into the groun. There are no visible dates.
Date of oldest tombstone
N/A
Date of newest tombstone
N/A
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Municipality
Preserved construction on site
There is memorial dedicated to the cemetery.
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Ignalina (Ignalineh in Yiddish) is a resort town in northeastern Lithuania, 70 miles from Vilnius. When a railway line was built from St. Petersburg to Warsaw via Vilnius in the 1860s, Ignalina became an important railway station, triggering dynamic development in the lake-filled region. It attracted numerous Jews to settle close to the station. By 1903, there were more than 30 Jewish families in Ignalina, around 200 people. In 1923, there were 593 Jews out of 773 of the whole population of Ignalina, which was 76% of the town. Just before the Second War there were about 1200 Jewish residents in Ignalina.

The Jews of Ignalina made their living from shopkeeping and crafting, 47% worked in stores and small businesses and 23% were artisans. Some were engaged in the fish and lumber business. Others dealt in fruits and berries that were sent to Vina, Warsaw, Lodz, and Katovitz.
Jewish children studied in chadarim. In 1910, a Jewish Folkshul was founded, which had a modern and traditional teacher. In 1922, the school officially joined TSYSHO. By 1925, 52 children attended the Jewish school. Since the Tsysho was anti–Zionist the Zionists in Ignalina opened a Tarbut school in 1928. The sports club and fire brigade also helped to enrich the social life in the town. Both “Hechalutz” and “Shomer Ha Tzair” were active in the town.
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Since the lake filled area was a relaxing place, in the summer, great literary figures such as Avrom Sutzkever, Shmerke Kacherginsky and others would come to Ignalina. They would stay at the Jewish boarding house near the first lake. Members of the Vilbig choir would perform in the town.

Almost all of the Jews of Ignalina were murdered on the Poligon near Svencioneliai in October 1941, together with the Jews of the local area. The killings lasted several days. In total around 8000 Jews, men, women, and children were executed there.

Ignalina cemetery was established in the 19th century. About 120 tombstones and their remains have survived in the central part of the cemetery, which is surrounded by a fence of metal mesh panels. No other remnants have survived in the rest of the cemetery area. In 1994, the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”.

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