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our visits in Vistytis

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  • eliasseidowsky
    our visits in Vistytis during the summer 2000 and 2003 My grandfather, elias Seidowky left Vistytis at the beginning of the century, he was a brusher and
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 17 9:24 AM
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      our visits in Vistytis during the summer 2000 and 2003

      My grandfather, elias Seidowky left Vistytis at the beginning of the
      century, he was a brusher and emigrated to Leipzig in Germany, that
      was at this time a great center for brushes. The brushers didn't
      really make the brushes but washed the pigs hair. There very bad
      working conditions are described in the book of nokhem Buchbinder
      about brushers and tanners professional unions, (Geneva 1900 in
      yiddish). My family was connected with the names Direktor or
      Drekter, h(g)urashof and Povistaisky: the last name comes from the
      neighbouring hamlet called Povistytis (under Vistytis). Some of them
      emigrated to the USA and England. Since I had still family in the
      area in 1940, albert Seidowsky, one of my uncles, running away from
      nazi Germany, joined this place, where there were still, apparently,
      personal connections. I was especially interested in the history of
      the first half part of the 20th century.
      I'm german, french and yiddish language teacher and know some hebrew,
      russian and polish, I studied in France , England, Germany and
      Austria history of east-european culture and judaism. I apologize for
      the poor quality of my english, and for the late transcription of the
      notes I took with my companion.
      2000 : we had the luck to meet with family zimmermanas; mariette and
      leonas. They speak polish and their daughter reda is a german teacher
      so we could understand us quite good , we could stay by them at home
      before we found two alternative solutions : in the hotel in
      pavistytis (the young manager speak english) and at the camping place
      Victoria were we could rent a little wooden house (the elderly
      manager speak only russian) don't forget to book , especially for
      the weekend.
      So could be organized a Vistytis-gathering of all the interested
      friends of our yahoo-group!!
      Leonas was 11 in the year 1941 and lived in Vistytis; he lives just
      in front of the pharmacy , on Taikos Gatve, the main street running
      down from the main place called Vytauto parallel to the lake. He is
      retired but still working as a gardener with his wife.
      2003 we could meet with inga from the regional office for tourism in
      vistytis , who speaks german; she introduced us to different people:
      birute mardosaite; an history teacher in the high school, that she
      let us visit.
      We visited the new regional tourism office, the public library,
      catholic and protestant churches and cemeteries, we could buy in the
      old soviet shops and even eat at a little "hidden" restaurant, swim
      every day in the nice lake and walk in the forest, but couldn't meet
      with the new major, Mr Bronius Polita. We could discover all these
      possibilities by staying at three different times and several days.
      The summer time is very nice.


      Here are the informations we could collect principally about the last
      years of the jewish life before the destruction; We don't give any
      guarantee for the exactitude of the elements but would be happy to
      get confirmations or corrections of the facts.
      The second main source was mr vitalius Gaidys, who is a sport
      teacher : (vistytis 4285, Juzapaviciaus 20, Vilkaviskyo r., Lietuva).
      He's ready to help us more but needs some financial support since his
      researches are connected with a lot of expenses and in a still very
      critical economical situation.
      He made a lot of researches and lead a school project organized in
      all the land during the last years called "our jewish neighbors" his
      group won the second price of the contest.
      They wrote a very interesting booklet about the jews. He apparently
      wanted to sell it He said us he had a lot more informations.
      The jewish community exists since the 14th century; during the
      history there were at least 5 communities in the village: russian;
      polish; german; lithuanian and jewish and even 2 Karaite families
      living outside of the shtetl.( members of a jewish fondamentalist
      sect ).
      1897 there were 2463 persons 800 jews between them
      immigration around the beginning of the century brush and leather
      workers
      1912-13 60 children attended the jewish primary school
      1923 1295 people lived in Vistytis between them 200 jewish
      between 15 and 20%
      there were 177 houses ; 40 of them were jewish ( these
      figures are quite the same as quoted in berl cohens "yidishe
      shtetlekh"
      There were 4 religious houses: one of them was jewish; another source
      signalized the existence of 2 synagogues: the old and the new one.
      They became at soviet time storage places for the cereals of the
      sovkhoz.The catholic church is still standing near the main place and
      the temple on their right side at the entrance of the village on the
      he road from Kalvaria. Beside catholics the lutherians came between
      1820 and 1844 as german colonists; a lot of them lived in the
      surrounding hamlets. 1842 the protestant priest of Vistytis H
      Wernicke wrote a book "es führt mich zum frischen Wasser"; (it leads
      me to fresh water)
      Between the two wars:
      some informations about the economical structure of the jewish
      population at this time
      The brush factories seemed to have disappeared since the workers
      emigrated massively to west Europe and America at the beginning of
      the century.
      Some jews were still working as tanners with skins from different
      animals like rabbits, cattle and pigs! they had commercial contacts
      with the next place called Wijanny in Poland.
      there were around 40 shops in town; 3/4 of them owned by jews.
      Some jews were employed as workers in the by a lithuanian "boss"
      Mr manipulis
      some worked in the textile factory owned by mr Cornelis and exported
      their production
      A jew owned the chemist's and other Jews worked as bakers.
      Some were tailors; one of them, mr Lachmann was living as a
      glazier.Some other Jew earned his living by working as a wellmaker.
      There were 4 Jewish peasants. and 2 Karaite families living in a
      place called Lukiaiu.
      The rabbi lived with his wife and two daughters (one of them called
      Esther) on Taikos Street, next to the house of the present pub, miss
      Salenson sold "bread for everybody and matses for free " and lived
      in a brick house on Taikos Street too like the two sisters Reich-
      Rudelitis selling sweets and ice on plates (they hide themselves in a
      barrack to escape their murderers but were denounced and killed) such
      as mr Abolowitch (Abolovicius) in a wooden house, he had a factory
      for textile. Andriewski was working as a hairdresser. Mr Markaus
      worked in Vilnius as a lawyer, he emigrated to Israël and and came
      back on a visit to Vistytis after he emigrated.Mr Zimmermann was a
      carpenter. The family Budwetskes with daughter Esther sold vessel
      and ... their brother sold stationary.
      In the school were two classes for lithuanian and Germans ; the
      jewish children attended the german classes.
      A family Rosenberg owned the blue house on the main place. (we knew
      the Name Rosental; so could it be a mistake)
      In the high school were two classes: for lithuanian and Germans ; the
      jewish children attended the german classes.There are two jewish
      cemeteries, the new and the old one, the old one is on the border and
      even on Russian territory. One copper monument has been stolen. A lot
      of graves were opened and robbed in the 60ies such as in the German
      cemetery. The robbers were looking for gold and jewelery.
      The destruction: In the next days after the attack of hitler-
      germany on the soviet-union as a border place Vistytis was occupied.
      The lithuanian soviet authorities disappeared running away toward
      east .
      The nazis separated the men from women and children; the men were
      kept all together apart in a barrack or cellars in the main place and
      had to work ; this place was called "the little ghetto".
      On the 14th of July 1941 at 9h30 they were brought through the main
      street (today Taikos street) to the mill at the entrance of the
      village. The Rabbi has been killed at 10h on the way, the inhabitants
      had to shut their windows and curtains, then all men were killed and
      buried down the hill hundred meters away, together with the political
      soviet commissioners (representatives) and the komsomols (communist
      young men).
      On the 7th of September 1941 women and children were brought to the
      same place and had the same fate, the wife of the rabbi was too weak
      to walk and had to be carried. A young lithuanian boy hidden in the
      mill could follow the scene and describe how the people had to
      undress before they were killed and thrown in mass graves.

      Afterwards, the bodies were removed to their present place beside the
      mill ; among them lies the rests of the father of an important
      soviet fonctionar, called Dzerzinskias. Around 40 families
      disappeared (200-210 people) : between 70-75 men, between 130-147
      women and children, some lithuanian people who wore white stripes on
      their arms were involved in the murders with the Germans, but didn't
      come from the area.
      2 young girls could escape and were kept by the family Cuiprinskai.
      These tragical reports fit with the description of the other mass-
      murders in East-Europe and particularly in the Baltic areas.
      The houses of the jews were attributed from the local authorities to
      new people.
      Here is the epitaph on the monument erected in 1964 near the mill
      from yiddish :
      " At this place are lying the bones of the Vistytiter Jews, children,
      women, men, which the nazis murderers with their local assistants
      have cruelly murdered, the 7th of September 1941",
      The remains of children and women were buried there separately in
      coffins in 1955.

      Mr Gaidys told us that a women owns a list of the murdered people,
      and would possibly "sell" it, such as his the booklet he wrote with
      his pupils.

      As a bitter irony of history; the only one jew that survived and came
      back after the war was Abolovicius (abolovitch) he should have been
      quite wealthy because he was as such deported in Siberia during the
      one year soviet-republic 1940 -1941 together with the
      lithuanian "intellectuals".
      (After Poland had been divided and occupied by the Germans and the
      soviets.the 3 baltic republics became soviet-republics) . Ahter th
      ewar Abolovicius emigrated to the USA.
      he owned some houses and let one to miss mardosaite ; one of the
      teachers we met.
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