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Telšiai, Telšiai County, Lithuania

To enlarge the map click here A view of Telsiai before World War II A view of Telsiai before World War II YVA, Photo Collection 183CO7

Jews began settling in Telšiai during the fifteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, about 3,000 Jews lived in the town, accounting for 51 percent of the local population. In 1940, Telšiai had nearly 2,800 Jewish inhabitants, making up 48 percent of the population. Most of the Jews earned their livelihood in crafts, commerce and peddling.
Telšiai was renowned for its educational institutions, among them a special school for girls founded in 1865 by the Jewish Enlightenment poet Yehuda Leib Gordon (YaLaG), as well as the Great Yeshiva, established in 1880, with 400 students.
Following the Soviet annexation of Lithuania in 1940, all shops were nationalized and the Jewish educational institutions, including the Yeshiva, were closed.
The German army occupied Telšiai on June 26, 1941. In July, a few hundred Jews from Telšiai and the nearby town of Alsedziai were rounded up, assigned to forced labor, and then murdered in a forest near the Geruliai camp by the Einsatzkommando 2 unit. At the end of August 1941, 500 Jews from Telšiai, predominantly women and children, along with Jews from the nearby towns of Alsedziai, Varniai, Zarenai, Laukuva, Luoke and Nevarenai, were interned in the Telšiai ghetto. The men were murdered. On December 24-25, 1941, the ghetto was liquidated and its entire population murdered in the Rainiai Forest.
The Red Army liberated Telšiai in the summer of 1944.