14 May 2009

Lithuania: Mazheik researchers need help

Tracing the Tribe received an email from Raymond Ravinsky, the contact person and co-webmaster for the Mazheik (Mazeikiai) Memorial Website.

There are two photographs on the Mazheik website and the group is trying to identify the individuals in them. View them here and perhaps you may be able to help them name the people. Here is one photo:

For more information on the northwest Lithuanian shtetl, click here. The town is known as Mazheik or Mozheik (Yiddish) and Mazeikiai (Lithuanian). Its inhabitants were murdered in August 1941. It is located on the Venta River, about 10 Km from the border with Latvia and is at the junction of the Libau (Liepaja)-Romny and Riga-Oriol train lines. See maps and much more information at the memorial site (link above).

Founded by the Duke of Zemaiciai Mazeika, it was a small village populated by farmers until the mid-19th century, when it grew with the 1868 construction of the Libau-Romny rail line and the 1872-4 construction of the Mazeikiai-Riga line. Jews began living there in the 1870s.

During the first world war in 1915, the town's Jews - along with most of the Jews who lived in Lithuania and Courland - were exiled to Russia and Ukraine. The town was set on fire and destroyed.

The Soviets invaded Lithuania in 1940. Some 1,000 Jews lived in Mazeikiai prior to the Germans arriving in June 25, 1941. Mass killings of the men took place on August 3, 1941, and of the women on August 9, 1941.

Along with the murdered Jews of Mazeikiai were some 3,000 others from the towns (Lithuanian/Yiddish names) of Sede (Siad), Vietshniai (Veckshna), Tirksliai (Tirkshla), Zidikai (Shidik), Pikeliai (Pikeln), Klykoliai (Klilul) and others.

The website is dedicated to presenting to the world everything known about Jewish life in the town before it was destroyed. Its purpose is to find out more, to explore hidden and forgotten records, and to encourage those with links to Old Mazheik to come forward.

Any one with information, comments, photographs, or stories to share is invited and encouraged to contribute to the site. Contact Raymond Ravinsky here.

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