Beginning September 25 Lithuanian state radio will broadcast a series about Lithuanian shtetls. Radio journalists will talk about nine small Lithuanian towns where only a few buildings stand in silent testimony to their once thriving Jewish life, and will interview people now in their 80s who remember that legacy from childhood.
The episodes in the series will be broadcast every second Sunday after the 11 o’clock news and during the Ryto garsai progream on Tuesdays at 9:00 A.M. The first episode for broadcast September 25 is about Molėtai.
Lithuanians and Jews lived in common in the shtetls before World War II and not only made a life for themselves, but contributed deeply to the creation of the Lithuanian state and the economic and cultural development of the towns. War and the Holocaust, which saw the complete destruction of entire Jewish shtetl communities, and the various roles played by Lithuanian neighbors, followed by decades of occupation, have largely pushed this part of history into oblivion.
Not all who remember the time of Jewish prosperity are eager to talk about it. Many people are still steeped in feelings of fear, guilt and shame. At the same time descendants of Holocaust survivors are coming back in ever greater numbers to the birthplaces of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and making sense of a land which for many years only kindled negative emotions. Some of them are working to strengthen Lithuanian-Jewish relations, others seek to preserve the memory of their ancestors.
This documentary series won’t be easy listening. Even 75 years later, witnesses to the Jewish tragedy aren’t able to quell their tears and many are unable or unwilling to understand this darkest period in Lithuania’s history. On the other hand, they also recall the happy life of Lithuanians and Jews before the war, including childhood friends, the many Jewish shops and the taste of fresh bagels.
Lithuanian national radio frequencies:
Vilnius 89.0 MHz
Kaunas 102.1 MHz
Klaipėda 102.8 MHz
Šiauliai 100.9 MHz
Panevėžys 107.5 MHz
First episode about Molėtai available in Lithuanian here.