Cirkliškis (Cerkliszki) | Vilnius

The monument dedicated to the large group of young Jewish men murdered in July 1941 by the Nazi and their local helpers. ©Kate Kornberg/Yahad - In Unum The execution site of 27 to 40 Jewish men from Švenčionys, murdered in July 1941, on the outskirts of Cirkliškis, near the road linking Švenčionys and Vilnius. ©Kate Kornberg/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews from Švenčionys in Cirkliškis

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Near the road
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 27 and 40

Historical note

Cirkliškis is situated approximately 80 km (50 mi) northeast of Vilnius and about 2,2 km (1,4 mi) southwest of Švenčionys, where an important Jewish community resided. The first Jews started to settle Švenčionys in the 16th century. In 1880s, there were 4,480 Jewish residents living in the town. However, the Jewish population started to decrease after two major fires occurred in the town in 1887 and 1891. According to the 1897 census conducted by the Russian Empire, Švenčionys had 3,793 Jews, making up 63% of the total population. In the interwar period of 20th century, when the town was part of Poland, the Jewish community prospered. Local Jews were engaged in commerce, service sector and artisanal work. They were very active in cultural and educational associations, as well as in political life. There were five synagogues, two Jewish schools with Yiddish and Hebrew instruction, a theater, a library and musical ensembles. A number of Jews were engaged in Zionist movements, which co-existed alongside Bund movements, Jewish Orthodox and Communist organizations.

In September 1939, after the Soviet occupation, Švenčionys became part of the Lithuanian SSR. From that period non-communist political organizations were prohibited. The economic situation in the town deteriorated as the nationalization of the Jewish stores and factories led to a shortage of goods and rising prices. Fleeing the Nazi regime, hundreds of Jewish refugees from Poland arrived in the town, increasing the number of Jewish residents to about 4,000 people. Very few of them managed to evacuate into the Russian interior when WWII broke out. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The Red Army withdrew from Švenčionys on June 27, 1941. Several days later, on July 1, 1941, the town was occupied by the German troops. During this period of interregnum, a new administration and local police force were established in Švenčionys. The police, as well as a Lithuanian partisan squad of white armbanders, started to arrest and shoot those considered loyal to the Soviet regime. Thus, a group of 27 to 40 Jewish men were arrested and taken to the nearby village of Cirkliškis, where they were executed at the very beginning of July 1941. The execution site is located on the outskirts of Cirkliškis, near the road connecting Švenčionys and Vilnius. A monument, erected at the execution site, is dedicated to the large group of young Jewish men, murdered in July, 1941, by the Nazi and their helpers. 

Holocaust Atlas of Lithuania

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