JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen JewishGen Lithuania Internal Passport Project, 1919-1940 #general
In recent contacts with Kaunas researchers to promote an interest in the
JewishGen Lithuania Internal Passport Project, 1919-1940, I am getting a
frequent response that one's family left Lithuania prior to 1919 and thus
would not be found in the internal passport records.
The purpose of this message is to try to dispel that particular myth. While
your immediate family may have emigrated >from Lithuania in the late 19th or
early 20th c., do not rule out the fact that your grandparents or great
grandparents may have had siblings who remained behind in Lithuania with
their families all the way up until the Shoah.
Even if your parents told you that none of your family was left behind,
don't necessarily believe them because they weren't/aren't genealogists.
When I first got into genealogy in 1993, one of the first questions I asked
my late father was if any of his father's GREENBLATT family members died in
the Holocaust. He gave me a flat-out no, but almost in the same breath he
said that he remembered that as a boy his family used to send packages and
bundles of clothing "over there", which my father helped wrap. His father
would receive letters in return (several of which have survived and are in
my possession), but after the war the letters stopped coming and my father
never wrapped packages for "over there" again.
In the years 1995 through 1997, through the listings in the Extraordinary
Soviet Commission Report at the Archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Museum in Washington, DC, and in speaking to non-Jewish oldtimers on visits
to my ancestral shtetl of Shat (Seta), Lithuania and to former Jewish
natives of Shat living in Israel and South Africa, I found out that my
great grandfather (who died in Kaunas in 1914) had a brother and sister who
remained in Shat right up until the Holocaust. Not only that, but they each
had 4 young adult offspring who also remained behind. In particular I was
told that one Yankele GREENBLATT (my grandfather's first cousin) perished
at the notorious Ninth Fort in Kaunas, along with his teenage son, Archik
(Aron). Yankele's father, Lipman GREENBLATT, who was known as "Lipe der
Schneider" and was my great grandfather's brother, is listed in the
aforementioned Extraordinary Soviet Commission Report. My great
grandfather's sister, Rochel GREENBLATT RAYZMAN and her husband Chaim Leyb
RAYZMAN (RICEMAN) lived in America at different points and the
aforementioned Yankele GREENBLATT briefly lived in Mexico City in the late
1920's, but sadly they all went back to Lithuania and met such a tragic
fate in the late summer of 1941.
250,000 Lithuanian Jews lost their lives during the Shoah. At least 50,000
Jews alone were killed at the Ninth Fort in Kaunas. They were not somebody
else's family. They were all our families! I would venture to say that
almost every single Lithuanian Jew who stayed behind had at least one
relative who immigrated to America, South Africa, Western Europe, or elsewhere.
The reason I support and promote the JewishGen Lithuania Internal Passport
project is so that the names and identities of previous unknown Lithuanian
Jewish Shoah victims can be uncovered and hopefully a Page of Testimony can
be subsequently filed for them at Yad Vashem. It's possible that the 20th
c. Lithuania Internal Passport records may be the only written
documentation of their existence.
Another reason why the internal passport files are so important is the
wealth of information contained in most of the files. One example is >from
the Rokiskis files - "He came >from Vilnius in 22 May 1930. Asked to prolong
his permission for staying in Lithuania several times. Studied at Vilnius
rabbinic seminary. Escaped to Lithuania avoiding to do the military service
in Polish Army. Lived in Rokiskis since 1933 Oct till 1938 May. In 1940 he
lived in Anyksciai".
So as not to give a false impression, while it can be assumed that the
majority of the people listed in these records later perished in the
Holocaust, not everyone did. My grandfather's cousin, Vandziogala-born
Ginde Leah VYUKER, nee LANGMAN, filed a Lithuanian Internal Passport
Application on 10 Oct 1920 in Kaunas. Two years later and newly widowed, on
8 Oct 1922 she immigrated to America with her 6 children to join her 6
siblings and their widowed mother in St. Paul, MN. She is listed in the
Ellis Island database as "Linda WINKER"; the name she assumed in Minnesota
was Anna Lena WINKER.
For further information about the JewishGen Lithuania Internal Passport
Project please go to