JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Teachers Application in Lithuania 1921-1941 #general

William Yoffee

Teachers Applications in Lithuania 1921-1941

A list of applications for teachers' licenses during the period between the
two World Wars is now available on all the LitvakSIG District Research Group's
Shutterfly websites as an Excel spread sheet. The list described here is an
example of the type of list that will be published more frequently in the
future by LitvakSIG on subjects and containing data that relate to most if
not all of the Districts of Lithuania. Before analyzing the data on this
list, some historical background is in order to illustrate their
significance and enhance their understanding.

To be a teacher in Lithuania between the two World Wars, especially a Jewish
Teacher, was to be in the middle of controversy about education, language,
nationality, local history and politics generally. Before 1919, no
independent country of Lithuania existed. It was either Russian or Polish
including a period during which it was the Grand Duchy that included what
are now the Baltic countries, the Ukraine and Belarus, and for a time was
part of a confederation with Poland. Polish was the principal language of
the nobility and the intelligentsia. Lithuanian was the language of the
peasants. Jews used Yiddish with a smattering of other local languages
including Russian for use in the market place. Religion was Roman Catholic,
Greek Catholic (Russian Orthodox) and Orthodox Jewish and each minority
sponsored its own schools. Later on, schools were established by groups of a
specific political persuasion (for example; communists, socialists,
Bundists, and Zionists of different types). The national majority already
taught Lithuanian in its own schools, but the minorities, Jews (by far the
largest), Poles, Germans, and Belarussians, each taught in its own language
and promoted its own religious, cultural and historical traditions.

The newly independent Lithuanian Government, intent on establishing a
national identity, began a policy of transitioning the educational system to
teach in a common language (Lithuanian) and to teach the newly discovered
history of Lithuania. It implemented this policy during the interwar period
to the detriment of the schools sponsored by the minorities.

The Teachers Applications List contains 1519 lines of data on individuals
all but one of whom are listed by Lithuanian and Jewish surname. There are
680 different Jewish surnames. There are also Jewish maiden surnames for 242
women. The persons listed were born in 230 different places and were living
in 138 towns, districts and countries, including countries other than
Lithuania. Of those individuals listed, 465 declared an occupation. Only 204
of these declared themselves as teachers or in related occupations
including, for example, teachers of different languages, of science, of
mathematics, of Hebrew and including librarians and eleven rabbis.

The date range of this list includes 4 applications made before independent
Lithuania had begun to organize its education system. Over 300 applications
were made in the period 1921-1938. In the period 1939 to 1941, which marked
the beginning of Soviet influence, until the onset of WWII, there were 291
dated applications listed. The period >from 1944 to 1948, which marked the
beginning of the post WWII period of Soviet domination, accounted for a
total of 22 dated applications. Almost half of all the applications are not

A large number of family groups are included, particularly for the years
1939, 1940, 1941, and years after WWII. Two common characteristics of these
groups are that members of the groups are listed after someone designated as
"Head of Household" whose application date is given. Others, listed as
family members, have no application date listed. All persons named in the
group are included in the same file according to their file numbers. Very
often, the Head has a designated profession, while the other family members
usually have none. Some of the family members may not even live in the same
location or even in the same country as the "Head". There are several
possible explanations. One is that the application of the Head, made during
the period of growing Soviet influence, was dependent on the political
acceptability of his or her family members. Another is that during this
period of political uncertainty and impending hostilities, the Head took the
opportunity to record members of the family for additional identification
purposes. Nevertheless this list provides valuable genealogical information
about some Jews and some Jewish families that existed before the Holocaust
and about some who survived.

Lists of the 680 Jewish surnames and the 242 Jewish maiden names are
available to ANYONE by contacting me at .

Access all newly translated records are available, over a period of 5 years,
to participants of the various District and General Research Groups of
LitvakSIG for at least 18 months before they become available to the public
on the All Lithuanian Database (ALD). Participants also have access to all
earlier lists that have been translated, and to additional relevant
information that will not appear anywhere else. For further information
contact me at the address below or the LitvakSIG website

Bill Yoffee
LitvakSIG Board member
Panevezys District Research Group Coordinator

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