Suvainiskis Jewish Cemetery
Suvainiskis (Suveinishok in Yiddish) is a village situated along the shore of the Nereta River, which marks the northern border of Lithuania with Latvia. The first Jews likely settled in Suvainiskis at the end of the eighteenth century. Public life was concentrated around the Beit Midrash. The children studied in a cheder and there were several of this kind in the town. According to the Russian census of 1897, there were 855 residents, of whom 684 were Jews (80%). However by the late 1930s, the Jewish population had dropped to 200 people.
Most of the Jews made their living by trading in grains, timber, cattle, and furs. A new road connected Suvainiskis with Riga, Latvia’s capital, the main market town for its products. Horses were exported from Lithuania to Latvia via Suvainiskis. The local merchants and peddlers also made their living from the market in the Latvian town of Nereta across the border, attended by many people from the region.
The Germans entered Suveinishok in the first week of the war between Germany and the USSR which began on June 22, 1941. On August 15-16, 1941 all Suveinishok Jews were brought to the Velniaduobe Forest, 5 km from Rokiskis, where they were murdered together with Jews from the surrounding towns.
The old Jewish cemetery of Suvainiskis dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. There are about 65 tombstones remaining, most dating to the 19th or 20th century, some of them still have quite clear inscriptions. The cemetery was still in use until the destruction of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. Nothing was built on the cemetery grounds in the Soviet time. In 1993 the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. According to Lithuanian law, it is marked by a memorial stone with an inscription in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”