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Translation of Seta chapter from
(Lithuanian Jewry), Vols. 3 and 4
Published by The Association of The Lithuanian Jews in Israel
Published in Tel Aviv, 1967 (Vol. 3) and 1984 (Vol. 4)
Our sincere appreciation to Joseph Melamed, Advocat, for permission
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[Page 366 - Volume 3]
Translated by Joseph Woolf
The village of Shat (Seta) is situated 17 km. east of the regional town of Keidan (Kedainiai), more or less in the centre of Lithuania. There were no roads, no electricity, no railway line. Nearby were the settlements of Pagir (Pagariai) (14 km.), Zheim (eimiai) (12 km.), Ramygala (25 km.), Yanova (Jonava) (25 km.).
(The closest Jewish settlements were Bukantz (Bukonys) (10 km) and Truskava (15 km)).
At the time of the Association of Lithuanian Jews, Shat fell under the Birzh (Birai) region.
In 1847 the Jewish population was 802, and in 1897, there were 1135 Jews - 68% of the population of the village. In 1921, 406, and by 1939, about 350 (about 90 Jewish families).
The cultural functions of Shat were very limited. No theatres, or cinemas. No theatre groups ever visited the village. There was, however, a small library of 500 books. There was a Beit-Midrash and a Kloiz. 30 pupils attended the cheder, and 70 the cultural school.
Their Gemilat Chassid (Jewish charity organisation) at one time had 28,000 Lit. (Lithuanian currency) in its coffers. In 1929 this organisation together with the Jewish Peoples Bank, had 105 members. These bodies filled an important purpose in the economy of the Jews in the village.
Shat was a poor village with very few skilled artisans. A number of the villagers were drayers, but there was very little means to earn a decent living, and most of the villagers lived from hand to mouth. They eked out a living from their dairy cows, and from handiwork. Every Tuesday was market day, and they had two fairs each year.
Shat was famous for its rabbis and learning. The chief rabbis were brilliant personalities. These included: Eliahu Ragoler, Naftali bar Ephraim, Meir-Michel Rabinowitz, Nahum Shapiro, Bunim Tzemach Silver, Zev Wolf Abrach, Avraham Droskowitz, Shlomo bar Meir-Michel Rabinowitz, and the last rabbi, Elhanan Weiner. Famous Jews born in Shat, were Rabbi Moshe Itzhak Rabin, Yehoshua Rabinowitz, the writer Rabbi Ephraim Kaplan, and the teacher and writer Mordechai Menash Monoshewitz.
It should be mentioned that despite all their hardships and poverty, the Jews of Shat never lost their sense of humour, their determination, and their togetherness.
[Page 368 - Volume 4]
When the German invasion began on Monday, 23rd June 1941, local Lithuanians were already armed and on the rampage, and terror spread amongst the Jews. Their fear was great. The younger people tried to escape to the village of Vilkomir (Ukmergë), but were intercepted by the armed Lithuanians who poured out of the forests, and who brutally forced the young Jews to return to Shat.
On Tuesday morning, 24th June, German tanks arrived from the direction of Keidan and were met by large forces of the Russian Army, resulting in a bitter battle. The Jews fled from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Some of them congregated next to the Jewish cemetery, and some escaped to the estate of Abba Ziv, about 6 km. from Shat. Still others tried to find refuge with local farmers known to them. Only a score of people remained in the village itself.
The first act of the Germans was to round up Reb Yehoshua Aharon Levi, an honored local Jew. They took him to the synagogue (Beit HaMidrash) and ordered him to tear the Holy Books of the Torah. When he refused, they shot and killed him.
The Lithuanian activists, together with the Germans, then went from house to house and forcefully assembled the remaining Jews for hard labour. They were tortured and beaten cruelly. The cruelest of them all was the village drunk Stanislav Glinsk. Those Jews who had found shelter amongst known local farmers were forced to leave, as they were refused refuge.
Each day, some Jews returned to their village, but they were killed by the wild mobs. Amongst those murdered were Tuvia Berenstein and Chava Kagan.
Old people were dragged out of their homes, tortured and then passed on to the two village madmen, who paraded them through the village, and on to the neighboring village of Vilkalnai, where most of them were murdered.
On the 20th August, the remaining Jews were rounded up, put on trucks and taken to Keidan. At the same time, all those who had hidden on Abba Ziv's estate, including Abba Ziv himself, were also trucked to Keidan. They were held in stables, and eventually murdered together with the Jews of Keidan on the 28th August 1941. Involved in this massacre were two Lithuanians from Shat, Alexis Kailovchis, and Vanaslavas Shravinskis, who had specialised in the murder of children.
The Jews of Keidan and Shat tried to resist, and fought to their death. On the same day, the Jews of Zheim were also murdered.
According to the Yager Report, a total of 2,076 persons were murdered there; however, the correct figure is bound to be more. It is estimated that at least 3,200 died.
After the war, the few survivors of Keidan and Shat placed a memorial stone on the communal grave, inscribed in Yiddish, Russian and Lithuanian, which says:
Information on Lithuanian/Nazi atrocities by witnesses to events: Sara Supplover; Shlomo Kurliandschik - Kiryat Nordau; Baruch Ziv (Historian of Yad Vashem).
Translation and collation of English from Hebrew and Yiddish provided by Joseph Woolf, Moshav Ilaniya, Lower Galilee, Israel, who was born in Seta.
Seta - Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Lithuania
Seta - Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918
Seta - Volume I: Lite (Lithuania)
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