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Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History
Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Istorijos Muziejus


Exhibit of the month

Published: 2020-06-04

 Most often, victims were transported to Paneriai from the Vilna Ghetto, the internal prison of the German security forces located on Gedimino Street, and the Lukiškių prison. Some of the first Jewish victims were from the latter prison. People were driven both on foot and transported by covered trucks. According to Petras Černiauskas, a member of the Special Squad: ‘From the prison, we drove people on foot up the hill along Sierakausko Street, past the beer factory, and then on to Basanavičiaus Street.’ Meanwhile, the testimony of another member of the squad, Stasys Zalepūga, reads: ‘I remember a winding road going up the hill right before Paneriai. When on the hill, we drove them along the highway for a while. Where to it lead I do not know, but to the left of the highway there was a road that led through a forest. Paneriai stayed on the left side. We didn't drive them through Paneriai. That road intersected with a railway and when we crossed the railway, we immediately turned to the left and there was a shooting spot.’ Zigmantas Pavlovskis, a resident of Paneriai, testified that people in the column were lined up in rows of 5 or 6. Women walked in the front holding each other’s hands, and men walked at the back with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. Kazimierz Sakowicz described an episode of victims being driven to Paneriai in his diary:

‘When the first line of the column approached the railway crossing, it was 8:52 o’clock sharp, and when the last row approached the crossing, it was 9:17! People walked slowly, with terrible fatigue on their faces. [...] The condemned women became agitated. One of them turned to Vysockis who was standing next to a booth and asked: ‘What kind of place is this?’ Despite facing death for talking to the condemned [...] he replied that it was Paneriai. The woman syllabised the name in an agitated voice: Pa – ne – riai. Some victims began to cry.’
The author of the diary says that the massacre in Panerai took place even before this column of people arrived, because the victims were brought from the Lukiškių prison. There were cases when on the same day the victims were convoyed to Paneriai both on foot and in covered trucks. These photographs stored at the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History in Vilnius show a section of the road leading to Paneriai along which the victims were driven to the site of mass massacre in Paneriai.
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