Friday, 28 August 2015

The Massacre At Paneriai (Ponary), Lithuania

The grimmest, deadliest Holocaust site in Lithuania is in the town of Paneriai, a suburb of Vilnius. The Nazis killed approximately 100,000 people there - 70,000 Jews, the rest a mix of Poles, Russians and Lithuanians.

The Nazis would bring people from Vilnius by train on this rail line.

Before they were led to specific killing pits, the people would wait in this canal by the railroad tracks.

A killing pit. There are several pits in the forest, built by the Soviets when they occupied Lithuania at the beginning of World War II. The pits were the start of a planned oil storage facility. When the Nazis invaded Lithuania in 1941, pushing out the Soviets, they discovered a "perfect" place for mass graves.

There's a small museum at the site with a sobering narrative. To save bullets, many people were killed by having their heads smashed against a tree with the butt of a rifle. Lithuanian units were hired to kill Jews, paid only in liquor.

A marker near most of the pits. It reads essentially: Here Hitler's occupiers burned the bodies that were dug out of the killing sites.

The final, most horrific action by the Nazis was their attempt in 1943 to cover up their crime while retreating from the advancing Soviets. The Nazis forced Jews to exhume bodies and burn them. This pit is where most of the bodies were burned.

A commemorative wall near the site, featuring the names of some of the dead. So many families, so many young people.

No comments:

Post a Comment