Leckava Jewish Cemetery
Leckava (Latzskeve in Yiddish) is a small town in northern Lithuania close to the border with Latvia, 8 miles from the district capital, Mazeikiai. Jews began to settle in Leckava in the 18th century. According to the all-Russian census of 1897, there were 1,176 residents in town, of which, 830 were Jews (70%). After World War I, the population of Zidikai fell considerably. According to the first government census of 1923, there were 425 residents in town, of which, 100 were Jewish (89%). The Jews made their living mainly from petty trade and peddling and made their rounds among the peasants in the surrounding areas and in Courland. Many of the settlement’s Jews, especially the younger generation, emigrated abroad.
At the beginning of WWI,, the Jews of Leckava, like the rest of the Jews in Lithuania, were expelled to the interior of Russia. Only 25 families returned to the town after the war. The social and cultural life concentrated mostly in the only Beit Midrash, which was built of wood, in the settlement. It also hosted the other educational activities which were delivered by the Shas, Mishnaiot, and Kor’ey Tehilim societies. The religious activities in the Beit Midrash continued during the period of Soviet Rule (1940-1941). At that time, only 10 Jewish families resided in Leckava.
On June 22nd 1941, when the German army invaded the Soviet Union, Lithuanian Nationalists took control of Leckava. Among other things, they began arresting their Jewish neighbors. Shortly thereafter, the arrested Jews including the elderly, women, and children, were transferred to Mazeikiai. On August 5th 1941, all of them were murdered in the Jewish cemetery in Mazeikiai together with the other Jews from the surrounding areas.
The Jewish cemetery was established at the end of the 18th century. Around 160 gravestones or their fragments remained in the cemetery today. The cemetery was in use until the destruction of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. In 1996, the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Hebrew and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”.