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Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum
Valstybinis Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Muziejus

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Exhibit of the month

 
Published: 2019-10-08

   

VŽM 408. Photo album (19 photos) ‘Jewish Children’s Homes. Kaunas, Giedraičių St. 4 and Pilies St. 13’

 

In 1932, a Jewish children’s home was built on Giedraičių St. 4 in Kaunas, Žaliakalnis residential district. The building was erected based on a construction design project by a German architect Hirschfeld and an engineer from Kaunas Baruch Kling. Sunlight, cleanliness and space were extremely important elements when designing the building. In front of the house there was a large yard designated for ‘sunbathing’. The final design included a garden, too.
 
Chaimas Vilionskis (b. 1931 in Kalvarija), a former resident of a Jewish children’s home in Kaunas, remembers: ‘In the interwar period there were three Jewish children’s homes in Kaunas sponsored by the Jewish community. Among them there was a Jewish children’s home for pre-school children located on Giedraičių St. 4 (currently Giedraičių St. 8) in Žaliakalnis residential district. Yet another Jewish children’s home was meant for school-age boys. It was located on Ugniagesių St. 15 (currently J. Gruodžio St. 25 / Smalininikų St. 21). The third Jewish children’s home was meant for school-age girls and was located on Pilies St. 13 (currently Rotušės Square 4). I stayed at the Žaliakalnis children’s home until it was time for me to go to school. There we received an extremely good care. I remember Liuba Solomina, our educator and director. In 1938, I was moved to a children’s home on Ugniagesių St. 15...’
 
In summer, the residents of children’s homes would spend their time in Lampėdžiai summer camp. This was where they were staying in the summer of 1941, too. At the beginning of the summer, the children from the Jewish children’s home on Giedraičių St. 4 in Kaunas were moved to the summer camp in Lampėdžiai. Several days after the war broke out, a big tragedy happened: more than 80 babies and very young children together with their nurse Cipora were killed.
 
After 1941 and in the aftermath of World War II, the building of the Jewish children’s home on Giedraičių St. 4 in Kaunas (currently Giedraičių St. 8) hosted a paediatric hospital of infectious diseases and a hospital of infectious diseases for adult patients. Today the reconstructed building hosts Kaunas County Addiction Centre.
Jewish children’s homes operated in Lithuania till 1948. Later their residents were moved to live in mixed children’s homes. Chaimas Vilionskis continued to live in a children’s home till 1951. Later he enrolled at the Polytechnic Institute of Kaunas.
 
 
 
Prepared by Olga Movšovič
Conservationist-researcher at the Inventory and Conservation of Holdings Department
© Images from the VGSJM collection
 
Bibliography:
1. Personal file of Chaimas Vilionskis (VŽM 8508), a former resident of the children’s homes in Kaunas
2. Chaimas Vilionskis. Apie žydų vaikų namus [About Jewish Children’s Homes]. Brasta. 2018, No. 1 (9)
3. Рувим Блюм, Торонто. Тайна трагедии в Лампиджяй. «Еврейский камертон» (Израиль). 8 марта 2012. (Evreiskii Kamerton)
4. Kastytis Rudokas. Vaikų infekcinė ligoninė (buv. Žydų vaikų namai) Kaune (išlikęs) [Paediatric Hospital of Infectious Diseases (former Jewish children’s home) in Kaunas (surviving) [reviewed on 06/08/2019].
5. Alvydas Laiškonis. Infekcinės ligos Kaune XVI–XXI a. [Infectious Diseases in Kaunas in the 16th–21st c.] Annex Infekcinės ligos to the magazine Internistas of 2016, No. 1 (10) [reviewed on 06/08/2019].
 
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