Linkuva Jewish Cemetery
Linkuva (Linkeve in Yiddish) is a town located in central-northern Lithuania. Jews first settled in Linkuva at the beginning of the 18th century. According to the all-Russia census, 1213 Jews lived in Linkuva in 1897 and this comprised 61% of the total population of the town. Linkuva’s Jews made their livelihood from commerce, labour, and agriculture. When the Zionist movement was established, the Linkuva Jewish Community became active in aiding to settle Israel. Later, during the period of the Independent Lithuanian state, many of local Jews belonged to the Zionist camp and participated in voting at the Zionist Congresses. Among the Zionist Youth Organizations that were active in Linkuva were “Gordonia”, which had 40-50 members, and “HeKhalutz HaTzair”. Sport activities by the youth were organised by the “Maccabi” branch. In 1934, there was a rural Kibbutz that was affiliated with the “HeKhalutz” movement. The religious life of Linkuva centered around the synagogue, beit midrash and a smaller kloyz. However, the Linkuva synagogue burned down during one of the large fires the town suffered and was not rebuilt. What has remained in the town until modern times is the Beit Midrash, which was built of bricks. The Rabbinate in Linkuva was headed by many well-known Rabbis. Among them was Rabbi Joel-Yitzkhak Katzenelenbogen, whose most important book was “Zera Yitzkhak” and Rabbi Yisrael-Hillel, who was murdered in Khevron during the pogroms of 1929. Other notable Jews of Linkuva were: Rabbi Dov Revl (1885-1940), who was the first president of the Union of Rabbis of the United States and Tsvi-Hirsh Rabinovitz, who published in Hebrew many books about mechanics, physics, and chemistry.
When the German army invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Jews from towns in the surrounding areas arrived in Linkuva. Thus, on June 28th 1941, the day the Germans entered Linkuva, there were around 1000 Jews in the town. Lithuanian police assembled all the Jews and locked them up in a stable. The following days, the Lithuanians took out Jewish men group by group and murdered them in a forest, about 3km from the town, near the village of Dvariukai. On July 23rd 1941, the remaining Jews were taken to the Atkociunai Forest, where they were all shot to death. 57 men were taken to Siauliai, where they shared the fate of the Jews from Siauliai. After the war, memorials were erected at these massacre places in memory of the murdered victims.
The exact date of establishment of the Jewish cemetery in Linkuva is unknown, however it is likely that it was established in the middle of the 18th century, when the Jews first settled in the town. After the Holocaust in Lithuania in 1941, the cemetery was neglected, and became surrounded with woodland and cultivated fields. In 1993, when the cemetery was included into the List of Lithuanian Heritage Property, at the unfenced site around 50 gravestones made of concrete and stone were found. Today the perimeter of the cemetery is marked by a ditch. There is a small plaque, informing about the designation of the site.