Lithuanian Jewish Community Successfully Defends Mass Holocaust Graves


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holA delegation from the Lithuanian Jewish community, led by Chief Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, and supported by the Conference of European Rabbis and the American Embassy in Vilnius, has successfully lobbied the Lithuanian government to stop excavations of a mass grave in Šiauliai, Lithuania.

After deep negotiation, the Lithuanian government has agreed that all work on the site will be stopped. Under Jewish law, burial sites are not to be disturbed unless there is a real danger to the dignity of the dead.

Šiauliai was home to one of Lithuania’s largest Jewish communities before the start of the war. Upon invasion the SS along with Lithuanian nationalists massacred thousands of Jews in fields, often forcing them to dig their own graves beforehand.

Although no commitment was made for future cases, other mass grave sites will continue to be monitored in the surrounding area, as promised by the American Embassy in Vilnius.

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis said “I cannot underestimate the value of protecting the many mass graves of those who were killed at the hands of the Nazi’s. We are grateful to the Lithuanian authorities for cooperating within Šiauliai and we hope they will continue to work with us to protect other sites.”

Chief Rabbi Chaim Burshtein said: “This is the first step in a long journey for our community to ensure that the many mass graves across Lithuania are safe guarded. I would also like to thank the many organisations from across the world who have supported our campaign and I hope that we will continue to work together for this vital cause.”


  1. “We are grateful to the Lithuanian authorities for cooperating….”
    How ironic; the Nazis didn’t have to do much in Lithuania. The locals did an excellent job. The Germans are at least apologetic while the Lithuanian government has yet to admit their peoples’ collaboration. These were the “friends” who at times even spoke Yiddish when conversing with their neighbors…