Subacius Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Panevezys
District
Kupiškis
Settlement
Subačius
Site address
Coming into Subačius on road 1203, turn to road 2406. Proceed forward for 1.2km and then turn right (north). Follow a dirt road for 300 meters until you reach the cemetery.
GPS coordinates
55.73588,24.79775
Perimeter length
330 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
The site is surrounded by a ditch.
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is covered by fallen leaves. There are bushes, tree stumps, branches and stacks of stones. In those stones the remains of the pillars of an old fence can be seen.
Number of existing gravestones
180
Date of oldest tombstone
1844
Date of newest tombstone
1940
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

Senasis Subacius (Subotsh in Yiddish) is a small village in north-eastern Lithuania. It is likely that the first Jews settled in the second part of the 18th century, when Subacius still was known as a county town. However, after the Daugavpils-Radviliskis railway track was laid in 1873, and a railway station was established nearby, a trade centre soon developed around the station. The town grew into a new centre bearing the town’s name – Subacius. At the beginning of the 20th century the post office, the county offices, the police, and the pharmacy were transferred to the new township. Over time, the “old” town lost its importance, and the “new” town grew and developed larger than the neighbouring towns of Kupiskis, Raguva and Vabalninkas. The Jews of “old” Subacius, whose community had been there for five generations and had built a fine synagogue, a grave-yard and other community institutions, split: the larger part, including the rabbi, had moved out of the “old” town, whilst the rest remained there. At around the same time, emigration abroad increased. Therefore, on the eve of World War I, only approximately 100 Jewish families remained in the town. But in the summer of 1915, even they were driven out by the Russian army of the town and only a few managed to remain. During the period of Lithuanian independence, the decline continued in the community. Two big fires broke out in the Old Subacius during the 1930s, which caused great damage to the remaining Jewish population and the fire in 1932, destroyed the prayer house. At this time, many Jews emigrated to South Africa and some to Israel. Prior to World War II, the Jewish population was reduced to some twenty families in the Old Subacius.
After the conquest of Lithuania by the Germans in June 1941, the Subacius Jews were murdered in July. In two phases, in the forests 3 km west of the town, the victims were forced to dig the pits which were to be their graves, after which they were executed. Only a few Jews managed to flee the slaughter.
The Jewish Cemetery of Senasis Subacius, which was nicknamed “Paris” because of the name of the small neighbouring village Paryzius, was established at the end of the 18th century and was in use until the outbreak of World War II in Lithuania. After the war, the cemetery was neglected and many gravestones were knocked down, split, or disappeared. In 1993, when the cemetery was included in the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania, approximately 200 monuments of various sizes and shapes were found on its territory. The cemetery is not fenced, but at the south-western part of the cemetery, a part of an original wall survived. There is a memorial plaque with an inscription in Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery”. Recently all existing gravestones were documented with the assistant of the volunteers from the Subacius secondary school.