Krakes Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Kaunas
District
Kėdainiai
Settlement
Krakės
Site address
The cemetery is located on the southern side of highway 3501, 1.3km from the city. A street crosses the highway at this point and the cemetery is 50m up the road, opposite from house No.1.
GPS coordinates
55.40872,23.7584
Perimeter length
295 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
The site is surrounded by 1m high metal mesh fence.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The territory is mostly clear but as the cemetery is located in woodland there are many fallen leaves. Under a tree there was a visible large white plastic bag full of leaves.
Number of existing gravestones
190. There may be more tombstones at the site, as many have sunken into the ground, which is covered by leaves and other vegetation so they are poorly visible on the surface.
Date of oldest tombstone
1909
Date of newest tombstone
1934
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Municipality
Preserved construction on site
There are two memorials dedicated to the cemetery.
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Krakes (Krok in Yiddish) is a small town in central Lithuania. The first Jews settled in Krakes around the middle of the 17th century. With time these Jews developed strong ties with the older Jewish community in Kėdainiai . During the years the Jewish community of Krakes built a large central synagogue and two smaller prayer houses. In 1897 there were 1090 Jews in Krakes, which was 59% of the total population. Just before the Holocaust, 150 Jewish families lived in the town.
The local Jews made a living from a variety of professions such as: the leather industry, ironsmiths, and teamsters. Some of them were engaged in commerce, mainly connected to the weekly fair held every Wednesday in the town. According to a survey held by the Lithuanian authorities in 1931 there existed in Krakes 20 stores and businesses of which 18 were owned by Jews (90%). In Krakes there were several prosperous Jewish merchants who traded mainly in wood and cereals. There were also some Jewish families that were supported by their relatives living abroad, mainly in South Africa.
In the 1920s in the shtetl a Hebrew school under the auspices of the Tarbut chain of schools was established. About 80 students studied in the school. Besides this school, there were also other Jewish educational institutions in Krakes like a small yeshiva and cheder. Most of the Jews of Krakes had received a religious Torah education and continued to study the Torah in their free time, belonging to such study institutions as Shas, Chevrat Mishnayot, Chevrat Ein Yaakov, and Tiferet Bachurim. The secular cultural activities centered around the Jewish library where different cultural activities took place such as a drama group and chorus group, all of which were under the auspices of the different Zionist groups. Various youth organizations were also active in Krakes: Hashomer Hatzair, Beitar, and Maccabee. In 1931 there were in Krakes 58 active members in these organizations some of its members made aliyah to Israel.
On September 2, 1941, all the Jews of Krakes and its surrounding settlements were marched to the village Pestinukai, 1.5 kilometers away from Krakes. There they were shot. According to the German report 448 male Jews, 476 female Jews, and 221 Jewish children were murdered. A memorial stone with an inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian has been erected on the spot after 1991.
It is likely that the Jewish cemetery of Krakes was established in the 18th century. About 120 gravestones or their fragments have survived to this day and burials were carried out until the destruction of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. Nothing was built on the cemetery grounds in the Soviet time. In 1993 the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Lithuanian: „The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”

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