Vilnius, July 15, BNS–In response to a request made by the Jewish community the administration of the Lithuanian city of Šiauliai has shelved plans to move human remains discovered during road construction.
Deputy director of the municipal administration of the city of Šiauliai Martynas Šiurkus said the decision was made to show respect for “the customs and traditions of all ethnic groups.”
“The municipality of the city of Šiauliai affirms … no digging work will take place until the appropriate respect is guaranteed for the human remains of the people murdered and buried in the mass grave,” Šiurkus told a press conference Wednesday.
The city’s press representative Vitalis Lebedis told BNS the road construction project in Šiauliai will be amended.
Lithuanian Jewish Community chair Faina Kukliansky welcomed the decision.
“Jewish concerns are satisfied because there is a cultural difference and a different requirement for honoring the dead. On the other hand I would still prefer something concrete from the municipality because there is no guarantee that more human remains won’t be found as the work continues,” Kukliansky told BNS.
She said representatives of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe and from Lithuania’s Cultural Heritage Department had traveled to Šiauliai Wednesday.
There are documents showing the site in question might have been a mass murder site during World War II where prisoners from the Šiauliai jail were taken and executed.
There are the mortal remains of approximately 40 people in the section of the grave site uncovered during road work. It is likely some of them are Jews. Jewish religious customs forbid moving human remains buried in the ground.