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Lazdijai, Lazdijai County, Seiniai District, Lithuania

To enlarge the map click here Lazdijai, Lithuania, Gathering in the main Synagogue for celebtation the Day of Independence of Lithuania, 1930  Lazdijai, Lithuania, Gathering in the main Synagogue for celebtation the Day of Independence of Lithuania, 1930 YVA,Photo Collection, 8758/1

Jews first settled in Lazdijai around 1690. In the mid-19th century they comprised approximately 60 percent of the total population. Fires in the town resulted in the destruction of many of the houses and community buildings, causing a deterioration in the economic situation of the local Jews.
During World War I Russian commanders blamed the Jews who lived in border regions, including in Lazdijai, for Russian losses allegedly caused by Jewish aid to the German enemy. As a consequence, in 1915 the Jews of the town were expelled from their homes, which were then looted.
After the war, when the Jews returned to their homes in the newly independent Lithuania, Lazdijai had 1,141 Jews, who comprised 48 percent of the population. The main Jewish occupations were commerce, crafts, agriculture, and fishing. In the 1930s the economic situation of the Jews declined due to antisemitic propaganda spread by groups of Lithuanian merchants and also to the disruption of commercial connections with territories that had been recently become part of Poland. The economic situation led many young Jews to move to Kovno or to emigrate across the ocean.
The town had a people’s bank that aided Jews in Lazdijai, a Hebrew school that was part of the Yavneh religious school network, a Jewish public library, as well as Zionist youth groups and branches of the Jewish sports groups Maccabi and Hapoel.
In the fall of 1939 the town took in 150 Jewish refugees from Suwaŀki in Poland after the Germans conquered the western part of the country.
After the annexation of Lithuania to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940, the middle class in Lazdijai, a large part of which was Jewish, suffered from the nationalization of factories and shops. The Zionist parties and youth movements in the town were disbanded and the Jewish school was closed.
On June 22, 1941 the German army occupied Lazdijai. The Lithuanian committee that then controlled the town ordered the local Jews to be confined in two barracks that had been built under Soviet rule. Those Jews who were suspected of sympathizing with the Soviets were sent to Marijampole and killed there. On September 15, 1941 the remaining Jews were ordered to move to the ghetto set up on the Katkiškes estate located a kilometer and a half from the town. On November 3, 1941 the Germans ordered the Jews to be removed from the ghetto barracks. The Jews were taken to nearby pits, where they were killed by Lithuanians.
The Red Army liberated Lazdijai in the summer of 1944.