Siluva Jewish Cemetery
Siluva (Shidleve in Yiddish) is a small town in central Lithuania, 12 miles north of the district capital Raseiniai. Jews first settled in Siluva in the 18th century. According to the census in the Russian Empire of 1897, there were 506 Jewish residents out of the town’s population of 1215, which was 42%. Before WWII there were around 80 Jewish families in Siluva. A synagogue existed in the town by the nineteenth century.
The Jews of Siluva made their living for the most part from commerce and manual labour and a few worked in agriculture. The yearly, week-long market, which also had a religious significance, played an important role in the economy of Siluva. According to the census taken by the Lithuanian government in 1931, Siluva had 11 stores, 7 of which belonged to Jews. In the 1930’s the economic situation of the Jews in town began to decline due to, among other things, the propaganda put forward by the Union of Lithuanian Merchants, urging people not to buy from Jews. Many Jews emigrated to South Africa during these years
The children of Siluva received their basic education in three schools in town: a Hebrew school of the “Tarbut” network, a Hebrew school in the “Yavneh” system, and a school which used Yiddish as its language of instruction. The town also had a library with books in both Hebrew and Yiddish.
The Germans entered Siluva on June 24th 1941, two days after the outbreak of the war between Germany and the USSR. They immediately transported all of the Jews of the town to the nearby settlement of Ribukai. At the beginning of August 1941, around 300 people from Siluva and other villages in the area were taken to the village of Padubise, around 6 km from Lyduvenai. There they were killed and buried in a mass grave.