“Simkaiciai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Šimkaičiai, Lithuania)

55° 14' / 23° 00'

Translation of the “Simkaiciai” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Josef Rosin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1996


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Lita: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Lithuania,
Editor: Prof. Dov Levin, Assistant Editor: Josef Rosin, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


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(Pages 686-687)

Simkaiciai

Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

In Yiddish, Shimkayts

A county town in the district of Raseiniai.

Year General
Population
Jews %
1886 195 .. ..
1923 340 41 12
1940 400 30 7.5

Simkaiciai is located in the Samogitia region in western Lithuania, about 18 km southwest of Raseiniai, the district's city. During the period of Russian Rule (1795 – 1915), the town first belonged to the province of Vilnius and later to the province of Kaunas. Simkaiciai was the center of the county during the 19th century and also during the period of Independent Lithuania (1918 – 1940). During the latter period, the number of Jews in the town decreased from 40 to about 30. All of them made their living from commerce and one family also from agriculture. According to the 1931 Lithuanian government census, Jews owned 2 of the 4 stores in the town: a fabric store and a store for heating materials. According to the same census, Jews also owned a wool carder, a sawmill and 2 flourmills. None of the town's Jews owned any of the 15 telephones that were in Simkaiciai in 1939.

Nearly all of the town's Jews – 25 of them – bought “Shekalim” (tokens of membership in the Zionist organization) and voted in the 19th Zionist Congress (1935). All of them voted for the “Grossmanists” party.

In 1940, when Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union and it became a Soviet Republic, the factories and the few Jewish owned stores in Simkaiciai were nationalized. All of the Zionist activities were disbanded.

A few days after the outbreak of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the German army entered Simkaiciai. Immediately, Lithuanian nationalists took control of the town. They arrested the young and healthy among the few of the town's Jews, took them to the coarse sand pits near the village of Zuveliskiai and shot them there, after forcing them to strip naked. One Jew, who was lightly wounded and got out of the pit after the murderers left the murder site, was caught shortly thereafter and was punished by being buried alive together with his mother near that same village. The remaining Jews of Simkaiciai were kept for a whole month in a single house and every day they were taken to do various types of work while being beaten and tortured. Later, at it appears, those Jews were taken to Raseiniai and their fate ended as did the fate of the last Jews of Raseiniai, who were murdered on August 29, 1941 (6 Elul, 5701). A mere few of the Jews of Simkaiciai managed to hide among Lithuanian farmers in the villages in the surrounding areas. Among them was a Jews who was arrested by the Gestapo at one point and sat in prison.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, M-9/6; Koniukhovsky Collection 0-71, files 4, 13, 42.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
Naujienos (Chicago), 11.6.1949.

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