Kaunas Ghetto

The Ghetto Kovno or Kaunas ( Konzentrationslager Kauen (KZ) in German and Kauno Getas in Lithuanian ) was a ghetto built in Kaunas in January , Lithuanian SSR during the Nazi occupation in the Soviet Union .

As in other states occupied by the authorities of the Third Reich , this ghetto is part of the history of the Holocaust suffered by the Jewish population of Lithuania. Within the area lived 40,000 people, who were later deported to concentration camps and extermination or executed in Fort Ninth near the town.

The few captive Jews (about 500) who managed to flee the ghetto became part of the Soviet Partisan resistance , which operated from the forested areas of southeast Lithuania and Belarus .


Construction of the Ghetto

A group of civilians are witnessing a massacre perpetrated by the occupying forces

After the invasion of Lithuania on June 22, 1941, the Nazis established a civil administration headed by Major General of the SA : Hans Kramer . A few weeks later, the Provisional Government was dissolved, but not before raising the ghetto under the supervision of the military commander of Kaunas: Jurgis Bobelis, who sanction extensive laws against the Jewish population while granting greater authority for the enforcement .

Between July and August 1941 the invading forces concentrated in a nearby ghetto Vilijampolė to 29 000 Jews who survived the pogrom initial. In the small area there were rustic houses and according to some activists “there was no drinking water “.


The ghetto was formed in two sections: one “small” and the other “large”, on both sides of Peneriai Street and connected by a wooden bridge several meters above it. Each was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by guards. Due to overpopulation within the ghetto, since each person had less than ten feet of free space, the German forces relocated these several times as the area was steadily tightening.

On October 4, 1941, both Germans and Lithuanians destroyed the small side and killed those residing within. Several days later, the Germans organized what was to be called the ” Great Action ” in which 10,000 Jews died at Fort Ninth in a single day.

The population there was forced to work in forced labor camps at the service of the Nazi army. Some works were the military base of Aleksotas . The Jewish Elder Council led by Elkhanan Elkes also helped to give jobs to women, the elderly and children (who did not work outside the ghetto) in the hope that they would not be executed.

Last days

In the fall of 1943 the SS seized control of the ghetto and enabled it as a concentration camp. Commander Wilhelm Göcke was in command. With its arrival, the Council of Sages was dissolved, more than 3,500 Jews were sent to various subfields where strict discipline was part of everyday life. On 26 October, the SS deported more than 2,700 people to other fields such as Vaivara , RSS of Estonia and others to Auschwitz being mostly elders and children.

On July 8, 1944 the Germans had the camp evacuated and the remaining Jews were deported to Dachau and Stutthof among others.

Three weeks before the arrival of the Red Army , the Germans dynamited the ghetto, as the survivors (about 2,000) were burned or shot at the time they tried to escape. Finally, Soviet troops arrived in Kaunas on 1 August 1944. 500 survivors hid in wooded areas or in individual bunkers.


Clandestine school

In 1942 there were approximately 2,500 children with no right to education, so they decided to build a clandestine school as an act of rebellion to Nazism. This center appeared in the publication US Holocaust under the title of The Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto . 2 However most children were taken from the ghetto in the days from 27 to 28 March 1944 and finally taken to the Ninth Fort as part of Aktion Kinder operation.

Trafficking of babies

In 1942 it passed a law which prohibited giving birth , so those pregnant women faced death. However, authorities also trafficked with babies between 9 and 15 months old and delivered them to Lithuanian mothers. [ Citation needed ]


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  1. Back to top↑ Then: Kovno
  2. Back to top↑ “The Underground School in the Kovno Ghetto” . Jewishhistoryaustralia.net. March 27, 1944 . Retrieved on January 21, 2013 .