Paneriai Massacre

20 Jul

Between 1941 and 1944, the Germans murdered over 100,000 people in this forest. The killings began when 5,000 Jewish men were rounded up in my Grandmother’s hometown of Vilnius and taken to Paneriai to be shot. By year-end 21,700 Jews has been killed, often with willing Lithuanian helpers. My Grandmother tells me that as her family was leaving the city, forever, they heard shots and screams from deep within Paneriai. She also says that the Lithuanians and Poles could tell who was Jewish and who wasn’t but the Germans couldn’t. They used to betray them, she said, not because their personal safety was at risk but for the reward of a bottle of vodka.

Also, among the first victims were 7,500 Soviet prisoners of war shot in 1941.

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