Klykoliai Jewish Cemetery
Klykoliai (Klikl in Yiddish) is a village in north-western Lithuania, near the Vadakstis River, which divides Lithuania from Latvia. Jews first settled in the town in the second half of the 18th century. During the 19th century, the Jews constituted the majority in town: according to the all-Russia census taken in 1897, the Jewish population of Klykoliai was 582 people, which was 93% of the total population. The Jewish community made their living by peddling in the neighbouring villages, including in Latvia, across the border, others lived off shopkeeping and horse-trading and had business dealings with Liepaja and Riga in Latvia.
During World War I Klykoliai was in a battle zone. As a result, the village was largely destroyed. In 1915, the Jews were deported to the Russian interior and their property was stolen. In 1918, only 40 families returned. They found their homes expropriated by Latvian soldiers, and the study house turned into a stable. It was only after the retreat of the Latvians across the border that the recovery of the community began with the help of Jewish philanthropic societies. By 1925, community life had largely returned to normal. Community institutions included a large synagogue and a cheder; teachers for the cheder were from out of town. There were no local schools, so the Jewish children studied in the neighbouring towns. During the interwar period, the majority of the Klykoliai Jews worked in commerce or operated small workshops. After some years of social and economic stability, there was a downturn in the 1930’s. This was mainly due to the opposition of the Lithuanians to the commercial activity of their Jewish neighbours. The desire to leave the town grew in those years, and many Jewish families emigrated to South Africa. In the last years before World War II, the community institutions hardly functioned.
When the Germans invaded Lithuania in summer 1941, a mere thirty Jews remained in Klykoliai . All of them were transported to the district town Mazeikiai and were shot by armed Lithuanians in the local Jewish cemetery on August 8th 1941.
Klykoliai Jewish cemetery was established in the 18th century, just a few years after the Jewish community was established in the village. During World War I when the Jews were expelled to the interior of Russia, the cemetery was despoiled by Latvian soldiers. The cemetery was tidied up when the refugees returned home, but due to the small size of the local Jewish community, the cemetery was rather neglected, especially during the last years before World War II. The Soviet authorities did not demolish the cemetery, although only 87 gravestones were found in the territory in 1992, when the cemetery was included in the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with the inscription in Hebrew, Yiddish and Lithuanian: “The Old Jewish Cemetery. Sacred is the memory of the dead.”