February - March 1914
Group of Students from the Panevezys Yeshiva, Lithuania
In the photograph is a group of students from the Panevezys Yeshiva in Lithuania, on the eve of World War I. At that time, more than 6000 Jews were living in Panevezys. The Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement had flourished there, with the result that Panevezys was home to a wide range of educational institutions. There were also 10 synagogues and religious study houses in the city, and the Panevezys yeshiva was a source of great pride in the Jewish community. Only 20 of the most learned and talented men were accepted to the Yeshiva study program, where they also received a monthly stipend.
About one year after this photograph was taken, during World War I, the yeshiva students were exiled to Russia together with all the Jews of Panevezys. After the war, Jews who had evaded the deportation came back to the city, and by 1923, some 6,800 Jews were living there.
On the eve of World War II, approximately 6000 Jews lived in Panevezys, about one fifth of the total population. In July 1941, one month after the Germans invaded Lithuania, the Panevezys ghetto was established, and the Jews of the city and the surrounding towns were incarcerated there. During the month of August, some 8,700 ghetto inhabitants were taken out and shot by Lithuanian policemen and SS Sicherheitspolizei (security police) units. Thousands more Jews were murdered in the areas around Panevezys in the course of the war.
Yad Vashem Photo Archives, 3238/41