The Panevėžys Jewish Community held an event to commemorate Holocaust victims with long-term community partners the Saulėtekis gymnasium, the J. Balčikonis school, the V. Žemkalnis school, the J. Miltinis gymnasium and the M. Rimkevičaitė school of business and services.
In the first part of the event teachers and students from the schools participated in a quiz about history, Jewish culture and the Holocaust. Many displayed a deep knowledge while others heard for the first time about the ghettos in Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai, Panevėžys and other towns.
Next, participants presented posters they had made on the theme of “never again.” Teachers who head tolerance centers at their schools judged the pictures full of pain and suffering.
Every school was awarded prizes, trophies, thank-you letters and souvenirs for the knowledge, initiative, creativity, tolerance, bravery and artistry they displayed. Students from the Balčikonis school won the quiz.
Students and teachers from the V. Žemkalnis school, M. Karka primary school, the Vyturis pro-gymnasium, the A. Lipniūnas pre-gymnasium, Gymnasium No. 5 in Panevėžys and the M. Rimkevičaitė school of business and services took part in a Holocaust commemoration at the “Sad Jewish Mother” statue in Panevėžys.
Panevėžys mayor Petras Luomanas said: “The senseless death of thousands of innocent people reminds us we cannot forget and we must preserve the memory so this never happens again. We should talk about this all the time.”
Deputy ambassador at the Russian embassy Nikolai Lyashchenko expressed the hope and duty to do everything possible so that peace and understanding prevail in the world.
Panevėžys city council member Alfonsas Petrauskas said it is important today to put much greater emphasis on the Holocaust in school curricula.
Ona Jošpaitienė read Abraham Sutzkever’s poem “A Wagon of Shoes” written in the Vilnius ghetto on July 30, 1943, and translated from Yiddish into Lithuanian by Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas:
The heels tap with no malice:
Where do they pull us in?
From ancient Vilna alleys,
They drive us to Berlin.
Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman said every Jewish family in Europe had been affected by the Holocaust and he reads kaddish for the victims everywhere he goes.
Students and teachers from the V. Žemkalnis school, M. Karka primary school, the Vyturis pro-gymnasium, the A. Lipniūnas pre-gymnasium, Gymnasium No. 5 in Panevėžys and the M. Rimkevičaitė school of business and services then joined a group of Panevėžys Jewish Community members and guests and went to the mass murder sites in the Kurganava forest and the Žalioji forest. The names of victims were read and stones were placed and candles lit for the victims.