New museum to show Jewish life in Lithuania before Nazis

Visitors stand under pictures of Jews killed in the Holocaust in the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem January 26, 2014. — Reuters pic
Visitors stand under pictures of Jews killed in the Holocaust in the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem January 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

VILNIUS (Lithuania), Feb 13 — A privately-funded museum in Lithuania highlighting life in small Jewish towns known as “shtetls” before the Holocaust is due to open its doors in 2019, the fund building it said today.

“It will be a monument to the culture of around 200 Jewish towns that existed in Lithuania. The Holocaust will be only a part of the exhibition,” said Sergey Kanovich, the founder of the Seduva Jewish Memorial Fund.

Prior to World War II, Lithuania was home to more than 200,000 Jews, whose history can be traced back to the 14th century.

Around 195,000 Lithuanian Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis and local collaborators under the 1941-44 German occupation.

Today there are around 3,000 Jews living in the country of three million people. 

The Lost Shtetl Museum will focus on pre-war Jewish life in Seduva, northern Lithuania, one of dozens of pre-war shtetls that dotted the Baltic state’s countryside.

Kanovich said a group of businessmen with ancestors from the town, and who wish to remain anonymous, are funding the project.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the national Jewish association, said the community was working with state institutions to open a separate Jewish history museum in capital Vilnius. — AFP

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