Vegeriai Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Siauliai County
District
Akmenė
Settlement
Vegeriai
Site address
The cemetery is located near the border of Lithuania and Latvia. Going South from the border by road 1001 for about 850m, on the right there should be an agriculture field, the cemetery is in the back of that field, from the road you have to walk about 50m to reach it.
GPS coordinates
56.40677,22.93652
Perimeter length
305 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
Only pillars from the old fence are left.
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is severely overgrown with bushes and tall grass.
Number of existing gravestones
27. The number of the preserved gravestones may be higher, however the dense vegitation makes discovery unlikely.
Date of oldest tombstone
1870
Date of newest tombstone
1904
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

Vegeriai (Veger in Yiddish) is a village situated in north-western Lithuania, in the Samogitia region, near the Latvian border. The exact date when Jews first settled in Vegeriai is unknown, however judging from the dates recorded on gravestones there must have been a community there from at least the start of the 19th century. Local researchers claim that Jews may have already settled in this part of Lithuania (including Vegeriai), in the 17th century.

The Jews made their living from petty trading, peddling, agriculture, and taverns keeping. The economic condition of most of the Jewish families in the town was exceedingly difficult. The Jewish community held limited social and public activities due to the size of its population, which was always very small. Vegeriai’s Jews had a Beit Midrash and a brick synagogue, built in 1890. However in July 1941, the synagogue was closed, and after the war, the building was demolished. The plot was later used for agricultural activities. In 2017, archaeological excavations uncovered the remains of the synagogue, the mikvah and a school. Between 1921-1926, among the 18 Jewish families who lived in Vegeriai were: five widows and one widower, four peddlers, who traded in the surrounding villages, two shoemakers, two butchers, a builder, a tailor, a market stall owner, and a horse merchant.

On the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, 50 Jews lived in Vegeriai. A few weeks after Germany conquered Lithuania in summer 1941, armed Lithuanian nationalists transferred the entire Jewish population of Vegeriai to the town of Akmene. On August 5th 1941, the Jews of Vegeriai, together with the Jews of Akmene, were taken to Mazeikiai and were shot to death and buried in mass graves in the vicinity of Mazeikiai.

The exact date of the establishment of the cemetery is unknown, however it is known to have existed since the start of the 19th century. Since the summer of 1941 the cemetery has been abandoned. It was not purposefully destroyed during the Soviet era, however, it was neglected. In 1993, when the cemetery was registered into the list of Lithuanian Cultural Heritage, only 20 tombstones and their fragments were found. There is a memorial stone, with an inscription written in Yiddish, Hebrew and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. Sacred is the memory of the deceased”.