Upyna Jewish Сemetery
Upyna (Upyne in Yiddish) is a village in western Lithuania, 13 miles west of Silale, the district capital. Jews first settled in Upyna at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1847, there were 185 Jewish residents out of the town’s total of 300, which was 62%.
Before WWI, 30-40 Jewish families, who earned their living from petty trade and agriculture, lived in Upyna. During the period of the Independent Lithuanian State (1918-1940), the number of Jews in the town decreased. Before WWII, only 20-30 Jewish families remained in the town. Some of them owned shops and some engaged in agriculture. Almost every house had an auxiliary farm, which in addition to a vegetable garden and orchard, also included a cow that provided milk. The flour mill and sawmill belonged to a Jewish family. In 1937, the village had 4 Jewish butchers, a tailor, and a shoemaker. Upyna had a Beit Midrash.
The German army entered Upyna on June 23rd 1941, on the second day after the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union. In September 1941, around 700 Jews from Upyna, Silale, and other places were murdered in Tubiniai forest near Upyna. A monument was erected in 1964 with an inscription in Lithuanian and Yiddish on the memorial plaque: “In this place, the Nazi killers and their local sympathisers in 1941, killed more than 700 Jews – men, women, and children “.
Among the natives of Upyna were: Rabbi Eliezer-Reuven Mushkin, a Rabbi in Chicago; Rabbi Tzvi-Yehuda Gitkin; Rabbi Avraham-Aba Heller and Nekhemia Sachs, a publisher and author, who published, “The History of the Jews” in Yiddish by Graetz.
The Jewish cemetery dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. The cemetery is fenced and there are 57 gravestones or their fragments remaining. The cemetery was in use until the destruction of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. In 1941, in an area of the cemetery around 100 Jewish men were murdered in an execution carried out by Nazis and their accomplices. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”.