Kvedarna Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Utena
District
Settlement
Kvedarna
Site address
Kvedarna Jewish Cemetery
GPS coordinates
55.55906, 21.99317
Perimeter length
291 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
Type of the fence
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery. The cemetery is well-maintained. There is some seasonal vegetation on the site .
Number of existing gravestones
43
Date of oldest tombstone
1851 (the earliest tombstone found by ESJF).
Date of newest tombstone
1929 (the latest tombstone found by ESJF).
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys
No

Historical overview

Given the oldes preserved tombstone is dated 1851, it can be inferred the cemetery was already in use by the mid-19th century.

Jews began to settle in Kvėdarna (Pl. Konstantynowo, Yid. כוויידאַן) in the late 17th century. In 1662. there were 7 adult Jews in the town (not counting the children and the elderly). In 1765, the town had 165 Jewish taxpayers. The Jewish population had reached 671, or 56% of the total, by 1897. R. Moshe Rosen (Nezer HaKodesh) served as the community’s rabbi in the early 20th century. R. Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz (1878–1953), known as the Chazon Ish, studied in the local beit-midrash for many years. During WWI, many of the local residents fled. According to the first census of the Independent Lithuanian state, there were 394 Jews in Kvėdarna in 1923. In the interwar period, the community maintained a talmud-torah, a Hebrew primary school, three cheders, a library, a branch of the Jewish People’s Bank. Zionist organisations remained active until the Soviet occupation in 1940. After the German invasion in 1941, all Jewish males older than 15 were taken to the Heydekrug (Šilutė) work camp. Those unfit to work were periodically executed. The rest died in Auschwitz or in the Warsaw ghetto. The women and children were murdered by the Lithuanians in the autumn of 1941. The beit-midrash served as a place for celebrations during the Nazi occupation. The local priest hid the Torah scrolls and returned them to the few Kvėdarna Jews who had managed to survive.

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