Joniškis | Utena

/ Church gates in Joniskis © Katherine Kornberg – Yahad-In Unum Janina B. born in 1929 © Katherine Kornberg – Yahad-In Unum Objects of daily routine © Katherine Kornberg – Yahad-In Unum The team listening to a testimony © Katherine Kornberg – Yahad-In Unum The execution site of Jewish men on the shore of Lake Arino © Katherine Kornberg – Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Joniškis

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:

Witness interview

Y.U.: Did women and children have to dig the pit as well?
Janina B. recalls: “No, only men dug the pit. They knew that they were digging the pit for themselves. Some older Jews visited us in Binkūnai. They were free; they just had to wear these signs on their clothes for about a month.
Abraham, who survived, asked my brother to accompany him to his house as he had some money hidden under the floor. My brother didn’t go with him because he could have been killed for walking with a Jew. Abraham went there alone and took the money.” (Eyewitness N°40, interviewed in Stebuliai, on March 28, 2014).

Soviet archives

"In July 1941, Feliks D. escorted more than 120 Jews to the execution site, located near Joniškis". [Act of the Lithuanian KGB against Feliks D., a Lithuanian nationalist, RG-26.004M Reel 47]

Historical note

Joniškis is a small village in the Molėtai district, located near Lake Arinas. From 1919-1939, it was a frontier village as the Polish-Lithuanian demarcation line traversed the lake. The first Jews settled in Joniškis at the end of the 18th century. During the period when Lithuania was independent (1918-1940), there were about 200 local inhabitants, the majority of whom were Poles and Jews.  The principal occupations of local Jews were trade, commerce and agriculture. According to Janina, born in 1929, the Shmarchiak, Majerka and Chadkeliak families had their own shops. In 1940, when the Soviet Union annexed Lithuania, Jewish shops and farms were nationalized.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

In June 1941, the German army appeared in Joniškis. Soon after, Jewish men were forced to dig two big pits at the edge of the village. Later, more than 120 local Jews from Joniškis were shot in those pits near Lake Arinas. Men and women were first gathered in a barn and then separated before the shooting. In one of the mass graves, near the cemetery, about 60 men were executed; in the other one, right on the bank of Arinas, 85 female and children corpses were found. Jewish shops and houses were looted by the shooters right after the execution.

Holocaust Atlas of Lithuania

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