Kriukai Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Siauliai
District
Joniškis
Settlement
Kriukai
Site address
Head out of the town to the south west, the cemetery is located on the right hand side around 400m from the town.
GPS coordinates
56.29739,23.81299
Perimeter length
200 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
The site has a 1.2m metal mesh fence.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is clear and well-kept. The fence at the site is new. An Ohel has been broken.
Number of existing gravestones
53
Date of oldest tombstone
1904
Date of newest tombstone
1936
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Municipality
Preserved construction on site
There is a memorial dedicated to the cemetery. There is an ohel (1 gravestone but two epitaphs, names are unclear), dating to 1916 (for both).
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Kriukai (Kruk in Yiddish) is a village situated at the northern border of Lithuania with Latvia. The Jewish community in Kriukai first established itself in the town at the beginning of the 19th century. According to the Russian census of 1897, there were 677 residents, of whom 450 were Jews (60%). After WWI, the Jewish population had dropped to 180 people.
The Jews maintained their livelihoods through petty trading in flax, grains, fruits, and livestock with the local peasantry in Lithuania and in neighboring Courland province in Latvia.
At the end of June 1941, Kriukai was taken by the German forces, as well as the rest of Lithuania. On Yom Kippur of 1941, all remaining Jews of the village were murdered in Naryshkin Park together with the other Jews of the neighborhood of the town Zagare.
A native of Kriukai, Hillel Kook was a Revisionist Zionist activist and politician. Kook worked hard in the United States during World War II to promote Zionism and raise awareness about the plight of Jews during the Holocaust. He later served in Israel’s first Knesset. He was a nephew of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel.
The old Jewish cemetery of Kriukai dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. There are about 60 tombstones remaining with most dating to the 19th or 20th century, some of them still have clear inscriptions. The cemetery was still in use 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. According to Lithuanian law, it is marked by a memorial stone with an inscription in Lithuanian, Yiddish, and Hebrew: “The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”.

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