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the Final Solution & the Massacres of the Jews

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Author Topic: the Final Solution & the Massacres of the Jews  (Read 1304 times)
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« on: February 09, 2007, 10:36:23 pm »


Paneriai (Polish: Ponary, German: Ponaren) is a suburb of Vilnius, situated about 10 kilometres away from the city centre. The town is located on low forested hills, on the Vilnius-Warsaw road. Paneriai was the site of a mass killing of as many as 100,000 people (mostly Jews and Poles) from Vilnius and nearby towns and villages during World War II.


The village was probably founded some time in 14th century. In 1390 it was acquired by the Vilnius bishopric chapter and soon became the main supplier of bricks to the nearby city. It shared the fate of the nearby city. After the Partitions of Poland in 1795 it became a part of Imperial Russia. During the November Uprising, on June 19, 1831, a Battle of Ponary took place near the village, in which the forces of Dezydery Chłapowski and Antoni Giełgud were defeated by Russian infantry.

During World War I, in the effect of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk it was acquired by Germany and transferred to Belarusian People's Republic, but in the effect of the Polish-Bolshevik War it eventually became a part of Poland. In 1939, after the Polish Defence War the village was captured by the Soviet Union and transferred to Lithuania, only to be reannexed by Soviet the following year. Since 1991 yet again part of Lithuania, recently incorporated to the city of Vilnius as one of its districts.


After the annexation of Lithuania the Soviet authorities started to build a huge oil warehouse for the nearby military airfield. The construction was never finished as in 1941 the area was occupied by Nazi Germany. Between July 1941 and August 1944 Paneriai became the mass murder site of approximately 100,000 victims, the vast majority of them Jews, many from nearby Vilna. The executions were carried out by German units of SD and SS with help from local Lithuanian police unit Ypatingasis Būrys. The victims were usually brought to the edges of huge pits and shot to death with machine gun fire.

The massacres began in July, 1941 when Einsatzkommando 9 rounded up 5,000 Jewish men of Vilnius and took them to Paneriai where they were shot. Further mass killings, often aided by Lithuanian police, took place throughout the summer and fall. By the end of the year, more than 40,000 Jews had been killed at Paneriai.

The total number of victims by the end of 1944 was between 70,000 and 100,000. According to post-war exhumation by the forces of 2nd Belorussian Front approximately 70 to 90% of the victims were Jews from nearby Polish and Lithuanian cities, while the rest were mostly members of Polish intelligentsia and Home Army, including 7,500 Polish POWs shot in 1941.
At later stages there were also smaller numbers of victims of other nationalities, for instance local Russians, Roma and Lithuanian communists. The executions at Paneriai are currently a matter of an investigation by the Gdańsk branch of the Polish IPN.

As Soviet troops advanced in 1943 the German-led units tried to cover up the crime. A unit of 80 workers was brought form a nearby Stutthof concentration camp in order to dig out the bodies, pile them with wood and burn them. The ashes were then mixed with sand and buried. After 6 months of such actions the brigade managed to escape on April 19, 1944. 11 of them managed to survive the chase in order to tell the tale.

The site of the massacre is commemorated by the memorial to the victims of the holocaust and a small museum.
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"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand fail..." - King David, Psalms 137:5

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