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Alytus

Alytus, Alytus County, Lithuania

To enlarge the map click here A street in Alytus, prewar A street in Alytus, prewar YVA, Photo Collection 182DO5

Jewish settlement in Alytus traces back to the sixteenth century. Until 1918, there were two separate municipal entities on both sides of the Neman River with their own Jewish communities. During the era of Lithuanian independence (1918-1940), both parts of the town were unified. The majority of Jews were engaged in trade, crafts, light industry and agriculture. In 1940, at the time of the Soviet annexation of Lithuania, the Jewish population of Alytus numbered 1,730 people, comprising 17.5 percent of the total population. During this period, factories and local businesses were nationalized, a measure that severely impacted the Jewish community. At that time, the Soviets also began construction of a military base and underground airfield.
The German army occupied Alytus between June 22 and 24, 1941.
Local Jews, along with those from the neighboring towns of Varena, Butrimonys and Merkine, were forced into a ghetto formed in the town at the beginning of September 1941. SD officer Joachim Hammann, with the assistance of local Lithuanians, began to concentrate the remaining Jews in the poorest quarter. The Jews attempted to organize themselves in order to facilitate ghetto life, but frequent arrests, abuse and murders impeded their endeavors. The Jews of Alytus and some towns in the vicinity were the victims of a number of murder operations in July-September 1941. The first killings occurred at the beginning of July, when some Jews were murdered by Lithuanian nationalists, with the consent and participation of the German occupying forces. The ghetto was liquidated on September 9, 1941, when all its inmates were murdered.
The Red Army liberated Alytus on July 15, 1944.