A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more
Shtetl Life - Politics in Vilkaviskis
With the help of material from the magnificent article by Josef Rosin I am attemting in the following pages to give some small picture of Jewish communal life in Vilkaviskis before it was all tragically destroyed in the summer of 1941.
During the autonomy the workers parties "Bund" and "Poalei Zion" dominated the Jewish public. At the head of the "Poalei Zion" party stood Efraim Bruker and his wife Rashel, the accountant Album and Yisrael Nitzevitz.
A delegate from VILKOVISHK participated in the regional conference of "Poalei-Zion" which took place in Suvalk in 1919.
The "Bund" was forced to stop its activities in 1921, where some of its members merged with the underground Communist party and others with the "Poalei Zion-Smol (Left)", which too was forced to disband after the nationalist party took over in Lithuania.
From the entire Yiddishists group in Vilkovishk there remained only the "Volkists" (populists), who stood for the use of the Yiddish language and opposed Zionism. Their organ of opinion was the daily newspaper "Volksblat" published in Kovno.
In those years the Zionist Vilkovishk with all its nuances became the dominating movement among VILKOVISHK Jews. All Zionist parties were active there: Z"S (Zionist-Socialist), Z"Z (Tseirei Zion) from the labor movement; the General Zionists; Mizrachi; Revisionists; WIZO (Women International Zionist Organization). The Zionist youth organizations who were avtive were: HeChalutz, HaShomer HaTsair, Betar.
The Z"S party, or as it was called later "The Eretz Yisrael Workers Movement" was very active in Vilkovishk in the thirties. The cultural/artistic parties this movement arranged would always attract large audiences. For example, in December 1934 in the hall of the Hebrew High School, a big party in honor of the "Histadrut" (Federation of Labor in Eretz-Yisrael) was arranged. The speakers on the history and the function of the "Histadrut" were: M.Varshavsky, M.Yarovsky, M.Karnovsky and Al.Varshavsky. Those who participated in the artistic part of the party were David Neishtot, Avraham Olvitzky and Y.Faktorovsky, and the organizer of the party was Avraham Vinderovitz. Among the excellent activists in Zionist and pubic work was Mrs. S.Litovitz, who immigrated to Eretz-Yisrael in the middle thirties.
In those years two "Kibbutzei Hachshara" (Training Kibbutzim) on behalf of "HeChalutz" and the General Zionists acted in Vilkovishk. Many of these "Chalutzim" made "Aliyah" and were among the founders of the Kibbutzim Beth-Zera, Givath-Brener, Dafna, Yagur, Tel-Yosef etc.
The ecconomic situation of Jews in Vilkaviskis pre World War 2
Activists for the Jewish National Fund, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1928
Activists of the Zionist Socialist Party in Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1932
Arye Serkin later Serig (left) and friends from the Zionist Socialist Party, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1925
Betar Headquarters in Vilkaviskis. From right H. Czernowsky, the leader Israel Dashewsky, and B. Zamosky,, 1933
Betar members from Vilkaviskis and Pilviskiai, Lithuania, 1937
Founders of HaOved branch in Vilkaviskis, which was p}art of the Eretz Israel Workers Party. Lithuania, c.1934.
Gathering of Ha-Poel members from Marijampole and Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1929
Gathering of the Zionist Revisionist Histadrut, Vilkaviskis, 1934
Group of Betar membres, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, April 3, 1929
General Zionists Party Pioneer Convention in Kibbutz Hachshara, Vilkaviskis, 1930
Guide course of Betar Movement in Vilkaviskis and surroundings. Vilkaviskis , 1933.
He-Halutz and He Halutz HaTzahir Members, Vilkaviskis 1924
Maccabi Committe in Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, March 19, 1930
Maccabi members in Vilkaviskis, Lithuania 1924.
Members of Ha-Shomer Ha-Tza'ir branch in Vilkaviskis, Lithuania,1929
Members of Herut U Tehiya Zionist Movement, Vilkaviskis, 1925
Members of the Zionist Socialist Party in Vilkaviskis, 1933
Members of the Zionist Socialist Youth Movement. Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1935.
Members of the Zionist Socialist Party, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, April 19, 1935
The Second Conference of Ze'irei Zion, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania 1921.