Chewing concentration camp

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Kauen concentration camp (Europe)
Chewing concentration camp
Chewing concentration camp
Localization of Lithuania in Lithuania
Chewing concentration camp
Chewing concentration camp in Lithuania
Memorial stone for the ghetto in Kaunas
Memorial stone for the ghetto, erected in Cholon , Israel

The Kauen concentration camp emerged from the Kauen ghetto . This was built by the National Socialists in the Lithuanian city ​​of Kaunas in the summer of 1941 after German troops occupied Lithuania , which was then under Soviet control . The concentration camp existed from September 15, 1943 to July 14, 1944 and had eight satellite camps. Kauen is a historical German name for Kaunas .


Kaunas is now the second largest city in Lithuania. It was the provisional capital between the world wars , as the area around the traditional capital Vilnius was Polish at the time. From June 24, 1941 to 1944, Kaunas was occupied by the Wehrmacht and was run under the name "General District Lithuania, Reichskommissariat Ostland " as an administrative unit of the Greater German Reich , which comprised the former Baltic states of Latvia , Lithuania and Estonia as well as most of western Belarus included. Gauleiter Hinrich Lohse acted as "Reich Commissioner" based in Kaunas and later in Riga .

Shortly after the Wehrmacht marched in, there were pogroms supported by the German occupation authorities in which thousands of Jews were slain on the street. Later the Jewish population was gradually shot in the old fortress of the city of Kaunas. This was largely done by volunteers from the Lithuanian Activist Front under the direction of SD -Einsatzkommando 3. It is estimated that around 10,000 people, many of them Jews, were murdered during the occupation in June and July 1941. According to the so-called Jäger report , named after the SS-Standartenführer Karl Jäger , who compiled a meticulous list of all Jews, communists and political commissioners murdered in Lithuania and Belarus between July and November 1941, more were added from the Kauen ghetto during this time alone 15,000 people murdered. Jäger ends his report of December 1, 1941 with the note:

“Today I can say that the goal of solving the Jewish problem for Lithuania is from the EK. 3 has been reached. In Lithuania there are no more Jews, except for the working Jews including their families ... Only by clever use of the time has it been possible to carry out up to 5 actions in a week and to manage the work that arises in chewing in such a way that no stagnation in the Service has started. The actions in Kauen itself, where there are enough reasonably trained partisans available, can be seen as parade shooting, compared to the often enormous difficulties that had to be overcome outside. "

He also complained:

"I also wanted to kill these working Jews, including their families, which, however, brought a sharp challenge from the civil administration (the Reich Commissioner) and the Wehrmacht and triggered the ban: These Jews and their families may not be shot!"


When Germany set up a civil administration with SA leader Hans Cramer as city administrator in Kauen in 1941 , the approximately 30,000 Jews in the city were given one month to move into the newly established ghetto.

The ghetto consisted of two parts, the “small” and the “large” ghetto, both located in the Slobodka district and divided by a thoroughfare. It was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and Lithuanian guards, the gates were also guarded by German police officers.

When the ghetto was cordoned off in August 1941, 29,760 Jews were living there; In March 1944, 17,412 residents remained, even though there had been numerous deportations to the ghetto, mainly from Austria, during that time .
Most of the residents were now adults who were used for forced labor, usually in military facilities outside the ghetto. Instead of payment, they received food rations, which could not ensure the survival of all residents, so that they were forced to sell the property they still had and take the risk of food smuggling.

In February 1942, ghetto residents were asked to hand over all written and printed materials, books, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts and personal notes. In August of the same year the synagogues were closed and public services were banned. Schools, with the exception of vocational schools, were closed and measures to prevent cash possession and food being brought into the ghetto were drastically increased. Hundreds of residents were repeatedly deported to Riga or other labor camps in Lithuania.

Life inside the ghetto was organized by the council of elders of the Jewish ghetto community in Kauen , headed by Elkhanan Elkes , with Garfunkel as deputy. This council of elders was one of the few directly elected by the ghetto residents. However, he was mostly dependent on the German authorities.

After classes for children had been banned and schools were closed, the council of elders took care of the further education of the few children and young people who had survived the ghetto until then, under the guise of vocational school classes.

Main concentration camp

In autumn 1943, SS units on orders from Heinrich Himmler dissolved all ghettos in the "Reichskommissariat Ostland", including the Kauen ghetto, and declared it a concentration camp, henceforth called KL Kauen. Most of the prisoners who were still alive in the Nazi assembly camp , known as the ghetto, were transferred to the Riga-Kaiserwald concentration camp . Old people, the sick, children and those classified as unable to work were murdered directly in the Kauen concentration camp. After the massacres of the Jewish population, around 15,000 Jews were imprisoned in the Kaunas concentration camp and its satellite camps. The camp commander was from September 1943 Wilhelm Goecke , his deputy Karl Rink.

The concentration camp main camp was dissolved on 14 July 1944 the surviving prisoners were about the Stutthof concentration camp in the Dachau concentration camp , outside Kaufering camp , transported. During the evacuation of the camps, the SS burned and blew up the buildings to drive prisoners out of hiding or to kill them. For this reason, no building remains have been preserved on site today. On July 26, 1944, prisoners of women and children from Kaunas and the Schaulen subcamp went from the Stutthof concentration camp to the Auschwitz concentration camp .


A simple memorial stone is located at A. Kriščiukaitis gatvė in Kowno (Kaunas).

Subcamp of the main camp

The following concentration camps near Kaunas are known as satellite camps of the main camp:

  • Kaunas- Aleksotas concentration camp (Alexoten - opening November 30, 1943 - evacuation of the camp on July 12, 1944.) Assignment of male prisoners at F. Schichau GmbH, Elbing, to work in the flak repair workshop
  • Kaunas- Šančiai concentration camp (entrenchments; opening: December 16, 1943 - evacuation on July 12, 1944) Use of the female prisoners at the Heeresverpflegungsamt-Magazin, the Army Clothing Office, the Army Motor Vehicle Park , the Army construction site, the Kaunas Motor Post Office and other places.
  • Kazlų Rūda concentration camp , (Kazlų Rūda), 1944 to summer 1944; Women working in peat; also men's camp
  • Kėdainiai concentration camp (Kedahnen) - work on the airfield - evacuation in July 1944
  • Kaišiadorys concentration camp ; Opening in December 1943 - evacuation in July 1944, use of the prisoners in peat and forest work
  • Palemonas concentration camp (opened at the end of November / December 1943 - evacuation on July 7, 1944 by ship to Germany, men's camp)
  • Pravieniškės concentration camp ( satellite camp of Kaunas concentration camp; one men's and one women's camp; opened in November 1943 - closed on May 15, 1944, forest work). Before that, a forced labor camp for Jews at the same location.
  • Schaulen concentration camp ( Šiauliai ); Opening on September 17, 1943 - evacuation to the Stutthof concentration camp, from there on July 21, 1944 to the Dachau concentration camp, Kaufering subcamp. A transport of women and children from Kaunas and the Schaulen subcamp went from Stutthof to Auschwitz on July 26, 1944.

Time after 1945, memorial

After the war, the Soviet Union initially used the fort as a prison again. From 1948 to 1958, an agricultural facility was housed here.

In 1958 a museum was established here. The exhibition went through various stages of development. The United States Holocaust Museum, Washington gives figures of around 18,500 Holocaust victims killed here. The local museum names 30,000 Jews killed.

Research into the mass graves began in 1960.

A 32 meter high sculpture was erected as a memorial by the sculptor A. Ambraziunas in 1984. The mass grave of the victims bears the memory in several languages:

"Here the Nazis and their helpers kill 30,000 Jews from Lithuania and from other European countries"

The Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Virginia , run by Jay M. Ipson - a Kauen survivor - focuses on the Holocaust in Lithuania.

Known victims

See also


Bibliographic overview

  • “Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto”: An Annotated Bibliography. In: Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 12, 1 (1998), pp. 119-138.

Eyewitness accounts, memoirs

  • Solomon Abramovich, Y. Zilberg (Ed.): Smuggled in potato sacks - fifty stories of the hidden children of the Kaunas Ghetto . London: Mitchell, 2011 ISBN 978-0-85303-814-6 .
  • Trudi Birger, Jeffrey M. Green: In the Face of Fire: How I Escaped the Hell of the Concentration Camp. Exercised by Christian Spiel. Piper-Verlag, Munich / Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-492-03391-1 .
  • Zev Birger: No time for patience. My way from Kaunas to Jerusalem. Prospero Verlag, Münster / Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-941688-12-4 . (Life path of Zev Birger, who survived the Kaunas ghetto as the only one of his family)
  • Joel Elkes: Dr. Elkhanan Elkes of the Kovno Ghetto: A Son's Holocaust Memoir. Paraclete Press, Brewster (Mass.) 1999, ISBN 1-55725-231-9 .
  • Solly Ganor: The other life. Childhood in the holocaust . Translated by Sabine Zaplin. Fischer Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-596-13549-4 .
  • Aba Gefen: A spark of hope: a Holocaust diary. Bleicher-Verlag, Gerlingen 1987, ISBN 3-88350-656-7 .
  • Sara Ginaitė-Rubinsonienė (Ginaite-Rubinson): Resistance and Survival: The Jewish Community in Kaunas, Lituania, 1941–1944. (= The Esther and Maurice Boyman series of Holocaust memoirs. 1). Mosaic Press, Oakville (Ontario) 2005, ISBN 0-88962-816-5 .
  • Helene Holzman : "This child should live": the notes of Helene Holzman 1941–1944. ed. by Reinhard Kaiser. Ullstein-Taschenbuchverlag, 2001, ISBN 3-548-60137-5 .
  • Raya Kruk: Silent screams. Reports from dark times. published and with a foreword by AH Johansen, photos by Zwi Kadushin. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-596-13978-3 .
  • Leo Lewinson: The Immortal Pain: On the Life and Suffering of Lithuanian Jews, a personal report 1920–1945 . Edited by Erhard Roy Wiehn, ex. by Zwi G. Smoliakov and Rosemarie Wiedmann. Hartung-Gorre-Verlag, Konstanz 2001, ISBN 3-89649-673-5 .
  • William W. Mishell: Kaddish for Kovno: Life and Death in a Lithuanian Ghetto, 1941-1945. Chicago Review Press, Chicago 1988, ISBN 1-55652-033-6 .
  • Avraham Tory: Surviving the Holocaust: The Kovno Ghetto Diary. Edited by Martin Gilbert , trans. Jerzy Michalowitz, with comments by Dina Porat . Harvard University Press , Cambridge MA 1990, ISBN 0-674-85810-7 . (English online version of the Ghetto Diary at
  • Alex Faitelson: Heroism & Bravery in Lithuania 1941–1945 . Gefen Publishing House, June 1996, ISBN 965-229-155-2 .

Historical works, documentations

  • Vincas Bartusevičius (Ed.): Holocaust in Lithuania. War, murder of Jews, and collaboration in 1941 . Böhlau Verlag, Cologne u. a. 2003, ISBN 3-412-13902-5 .
  • Dennis B. Klein (Ed.), For the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto. Little, Brown & Co., Boston et al. a. 1997, ISBN 0-8212-2457-3 .
  • Christoph Dieckmann : The ghetto and the concentration camp in Kaunas, 1941–1944. In: Ulrich Herbert , Karin Orth , Christoph Dieckmann (eds.): The National Socialist Concentration Camps - Development and Structure. Volume I, Wallstein-Verlag, Göttingen 1998, ISBN 3-89244-289-4 , pp. 439-471.
  • Christoph Dieckmann : German occupation policy in Lithuania 1941-1944 . 2 volumes. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2011
  • Klaus-Michael Mallmann (Ed.): German East 1939–1945. The Weltanschauung war in photos and texts. (= Publications by the Ludwigsburg Research Center at the University of Stuttgart. 1). Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2003, ISBN 3-534-16023-1 .
  • Jürgen Matthäus : The Kaunas Ghetto and the “Final Solution” in Lithuania. In: Wolfgang Benz , Marion Neiss (Hrsg.): Judenmord in Lithuania (= Center for Research on Antisemitism of the TU Berlin, series documents - texts - materials. 33). Metropol Verlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-932482-23-9 , pp. 97-112.
  • Joachim Tauber: Work as Hope: Jewish Ghettos in Lithuania 1941–1944 , Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015
  • Chatzkelis Lemchenas: The Einsatz Rosenberg in Kovna, in "Di pen", Oxford, 2, 1994, pp. 25-32 (monthly magazine in Yiddish, this article in English). Ed. Dovid Katz, Oxford Institute for Yiddish Studies, other name of the publication: "yiddish pen"

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. cf. the series of pictures on Kaunas in the Federal Archives and at the picture agency bpk (department of the Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage); z. B. A group of Jewish women is led to execution by members of the Lithuanian Activist Front .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Mass shooting of Jews by members of the Lithuanian activist front .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Pogrom in Kovno (Kaunas) from 23-28 June 1941. A young Lithuanian kills Jews with a crowbar .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Kaunas. - Spectators at a public slaughter of Jews by Lithuanian nationalists after the invasion of the German Wehrmacht .@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /   @1@ 2Template: Dead Link /   @1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  2. Joel Elkes: Dr. Elkhanan Elkes of the Kovno Ghetto - A Son's Holocaust Memoir . Ed .: Sara Elkes, Foreword by Parker J. Palmer. 10th edition. Paraclete Press (first published by Vale Publishing, London, 1997), Brewster (Massachusetts) 1999, ISBN 1-55725-231-9 .
  3. Solly Ganor: The Other Life. Childhood in the holocaust. Frankfurt am Main 1997, p. 160.
  4. ^ Museums of Lithuania. Kaunas' Ninth Fort Museum, December 19, 2006.
  5. original name of the AV .: Abraham Golub or galub

Coordinates: 54 ° 54 ′ 57 ″  N , 23 ° 53 ′ 18 ″  E