Seda Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Telsiai
District
Mažeikiai
Settlement
Seda
Site address
The cemetery is connected to this house, access is through their garden. Žalioji street 10.
GPS coordinates
56.166180,22.083036
Perimeter length
539 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
There are only a few parts of the old fence remaining at the rear and at the front. It is a 1-1.5m high concrete wall.
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
Dense vegetation is present in most of the territory. Locals use the cemetery for storage and as access into the garden. There is a fenced mass grave area, marked with a memorial. An older local resident recollected that there had been a newspaper article stating that the cemetery was due to be demolished and that people could recycle the gravestones and anything else at the site. The cemetery was levelled and any remaining monuments or gravestones were pushed into a river. The reservoir was excavated and a summer house was planned, however plans were not implemented.
Number of existing gravestones
10
Date of oldest tombstone
1887
Date of newest tombstone
1898
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Municipality
Preserved construction on site
There is a memorial dedicated to the cemetery.
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Seda (Shad in Yiddish) is a village in northern Lithuania on the border with Latvia, 16 miles from the district capital, Mazeikiai. Jews most likely began to settle in Seda in the seventeenth century. Decades later the Jewish community grew to be the largest in the region. In 1847, 1,729 Jews lived in Seda, and according to the all-Russian census of 1897, there were 1,384 Jews out of the total population of 2,015 (69%). Before WWII, there were 110 Jewish families in Seda. Jews made their living in trade, crafting, and small-scale agricultural activities. Jewish shops were located in two large buildings in the market square. Weekly market days on Mondays and Wednesdays and the three annual fairs provided trade opportunities. According to the government survey of 1931, there were 31 active businesses in Seda, 29 of them in Jewish hands (93%). Around 40 families maintained agricultural farms and residences covering an area of about 100 hectares in a village near the town. The neighbors called that place Zydu Dvaras, the “Jewish Farm”.
Many of Seda’s Jews belonged to the Zionist camp and took part in the elections for the Zionist congresses. The Jewish youth of Seda spoke very good Hebrew and belonged to Zionist organizations such as HaShomer HaTsair. Sports activities were organized by Maccabi and HaPoel which had 60 members.
On June 23rd 1941, the day after the German invasion into the Soviet Union, the first German soldiers entered Seda. Soon after, all the Jews were herded into the nearby “Jewish Farm” where they were kept without food and water for several days. On July 3rd 1941, armed Lithuanians took the men out, murdered them, and buried them at a site near the Jewish cemetery. The women and children were taken to the site of the Jewish cemetery in Mazeikiai on August 9th 1941, where they were murdered together with Jews from the surrounding towns.
The Jewish cemetery dates back to the end of the 17th century. It was almost destroyed during the Soviet period, in the 20th century. The locals used Jewish tombstones to build the foundations of houses and the Varduva dam. Later on, a person living near the cemetery dug a pond in the territory of the cemetery. In June-July 1941, the Jewish population of Seda was killed and buried on the northern outskirts of the old Jewish cemetery. Only a few gravestones or their fragments remain in the cemetery today. In 2001, 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”.