Laizuva Jewish Cemetery
Laizuva (Laizheve in Yiddish) is a village in northern Lithuania on the border with Latvia, 12 miles from the district capital, Mazeikiai. The Jews first started to settle in Laizuva in the second half of the 18th century and during their first hundred years, they buried their dead in the cemetery in the nearby town, Viekšniai. According to the all-Russian census of 1897, there were 931 residents in Laizuva, of which, 434 (46%) of them were Jewish. The majority of Laizuva’s Jews made their living by small scale trading and crafting. At the end of the nineteenth century, Jews developed the pig bristle trade: part of the processing was completed in the nearby town of Akmene. The processed product was marketed in neighboring Kourland. Several families succeeded in this business and became wealthy. Some of their children, along with other young Jews from Laizuva, emigrated to South Africa, the United States, and England.
After WWI, the first independent Lithuanian government census of 1923, recorded 845 residents in Laizuva, including 127 Jews (15%). According to the government survey of 1931, the town had three Jewish-owned businesses: a butcher’s shop, a textile shop, and an iron products and tools shop. In 1937, three Jewish tradesmen worked in Laizuva; a locksmith, a carpenter, and a knitter.
Before WWII, there were only around 50 Jews remaining in Laizuva. All of them were murdered in August 194,1 in Mazeikiai Jewish cemetery together with all of the Jews of that area.
The Jewish cemetery was established around 1860. Around 45 gravestones or their fragments remain in the cemetery. The cemetery was in use until the destruction of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. The cemetery is surrounded by a 195m stone fence. 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”.