The Singer Family - Vilna, Poland (today Lithuania)

In 1941, Zvi Singer was murdered in the killing pits in Ponary, Vilna. His wife and son survived in the ranks of the partisans.

Arie Singer was born in 1930 in Vilna, Poland (today Lithuania), the only son of Zvi and Chaya née Swerdlin.  The Singers were Zionists, and Arie attended a Hebrew school.  Zvi made a living trading in wood, and the family was comfortably off.

In 1939, after the outbreak of war, the Singers left Vilna with some relatives and moved to Głębokie, Poland (today Belarus), Zvi's hometown, in the belief that it would be safer there. 

On 2 July 1941, the Germans occupied Głębokie, and the same day, harsh persecution of the local Jews began.  Vilna had already been occupied, and during July 1941, some 5,000 Jewish men were seized from their homes, ostensibly for forced labor.  In fact, the men were brought to the Ponary forest, 10 km southwest of Vilna, and were shot into pits.  Among them was Zvi Singer, who was in Vilna at the time.

A ghetto was established in Głębokie in October 1941.  Chaya and Arie lived in a small apartment in the ghetto, and suffered immense hunger. They managed to escape in the spring of 1943, and reached the forests on the outskirts of Vilna.  They hid in the forest, joined the partisans, and participated in resistance actions.  In 1944, the Red Army liberated the area.  Chaya and her 13-year-old son Arie had survived.

After the war, Chaya and Arie wandered between DP camps in Germany, and in 1948 they immigrated to Israel.  Chaya married a second time and had a daughter.  Arie immigrated with "Gahal" (recruits from abroad).  He enlisted in the IDF, ended his service with the rank of captain and reached the rank of colonel in the course of his reserve duty.  He was wounded in action three times during Israeli wars.  In 1953 he started studying in the Civil Engineering Faculty of the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), and in 1958, he married Rina Altabaker, a survivor from the Warsaw ghetto.

In 1973, Arie Singer submitted Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem in memory of his father Zvi, who was murdered at Ponary, his grandparents Yirmiyahu and Chava-Sarah Singer, who were murdered in the Głębokie ghetto, his grandmother Rivka Swerdlin, who was murdered at Ponary, and other relatives.  Chaya passed away in 2007, aged 99.


Arie took up painting later in life; his works frequently depict the vistas of his childhood, views of Israel, and Holocaust events that he experienced as a child.

The watercolor featured in this exhibition depicts the Aktion in the Vilna ghetto known as the "Great Provocation".  In late August 1941, the German regime in Lithuania decided to establish a ghetto in the old Jewish quarter of Vilna, where thousands of Jews already lived.  From 31 August until 3 September, a sweeping Aktion was carried out in Vilna.  Thousands of Jewish men, women and children, including workers with permits, were taken to the Lukiškės prison, and from there, were  brought to Ponary and murdered.  This massacre was known in the ghetto as the "Great Provocation Aktion", because the murdered Jews were seized off the streets by the Germans ostensibly in retribution for the murder of two German soldiers by Jews.