Kaunas

The Kovno Ghetto

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Most contemporary sources write that the Kovno Ghetto was completely destroyed by the Nazis shortly before they fled Kaunas at the end of July 1944. This simply isn’t true, and although the area features just three memorials of note, walking past the many remaining houses where the ghetto prisoners lived under such barbaric conditions is a gruesome experience like no other. Located in Vilijampolė and in operation between August 15, 1941 and August 1, 1944, at its peak the Kovno Ghetto held over 30,000 Jewish men, women and children, most of whom wouldn’t survive the war. The area along and around Linkuvos starting from the Ghetto Memorial at Kriščiukaičio 14 and running north to Panerių features dozens of original houses. Nearby, at Goštautų 4, is a small memorial marking the spot where the first ghetto hospital was burned to the ground with everyone inside during the liquidation of the Small Ghetto on October 4, 1941. The final memorial on the site of the former ghetto cemetery can be found on the small slip road coming off Neries Krantinė just north of Varnių Tiltas. Leave a stone at each if you can, or better still get a guide to show you round. Several books on the subject are available in English. Among the best are Izzy’s Fire by Nancy Wright Beasley and Kadish for Kovno by one of the ghetto’s handful of survivors William W. Mishell. Both books can be ordered on Amazon.

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