Svencioneliai Jewish Cemetery
In 1861 тhe new railway St. Petersburg – Warsaw was laid close to the town Svencionys (Swentzian). The new train station attracted people and a new settlement was built around it and was called “Novo–Swentzian” today Svencioneliai. A few years later, Jewish families began to settle, arriving from the surrounding villages and small towns. They opened taverns, stores, and handicraft workshops, some also found work at the train station. The Jewish population grew up to 540 people, or 40% of the town’s entire population. In 1940, there were around 1000 Jews in Švenčionėliai, which was 20% of the total population.
Due to its importance as a transport hub, the train station was always filled with people. All trains stopped in Svencioneliai and the passengers would disembark to buy something to eat and drink. Many types of goods passed throught the station including: lumber, geese, crayfish, and fruit as well as businessmen and agents of important firms. Because of the vast demands on the line there were often delays for the passengers leading to the necessity of overnight stays. This need for hotels and inns, providing many Jewish families with a stable income. Other Jewish people found work meeting the needs of the many train officials and workers in town leading many to find work as: shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, glaziers, masons, painters, bakers and coachmen.
There were two Synagogues in Svencioneliai: the Old and the New. Both Houses of Prayer followed Misnagdim, as did the majority of the Jewish population in town.
Germans occupied Svencioneliai at the end of June 1941. Soon after that, a ghetto was established. In September 1941, all the Jews were relocated to barracks in the former Soviet military training camp about 1,5 km from Svencioneliai. Several thousand Jews, brought from nearby towns and villages were kept in 8 barracks for about a week.
On 8 October 1941, all the Jews from the barracks were taken in smaller groups and shot in the pit that had been dug. Men were executed first. Women and children were shot afterwards. The killings lasted several days. it is assumed that around 8000 Jews were executed.
Svencioneliai (Nay-Swentzian in Yiddish) is a town in eastern Lithuania 7 miles West of district capital Svencionys. For a long time, Svencioneliai did not have its own cemetery,the deceased being taken to Svencionys. Only in 1911 was a cemetery opened on the road to Kaltinenai. About 180 gravestones or their fragments remained in the cemetery. The cemetery was still in use until the destruction of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. In 1994 the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian: „The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”.