The “Final Solution” in Lithuania in the Light of German Documentation
In June 1941 the German armies conquered Lithuania within four days. Only about 15,000 of the 240,000 Jews in Lithuania managed to escape to Russia. The Lithuanians ambushed the retreating Russian soldiers and started murdering Jews. The German authorities including Einsatzgruppen (special task forces), assisted by the Lithuanians, mass-murdered some 175,000 Jews between June and November 1941. The main burial sites were Fort IX in Kovno and Ponary in Vilna. Between December 1941 and August 1943 Jews survived in the ghettos of Vilna, Kovno, and other large towns. Skilled artisans and other special workers were employed by the German army. Towards the end of this period, those able to work were forced into labor camps. Partisan groups formed, particularly in the Vilna ghetto. When the Nazis commenced their retreat, the survivors were butchered. The Vilna ghetto was liquidated in September 1943 and the remaining Jews sent to Latvia and Estonia. Only 2,000 to 3,000 Jews survived the Nazi occupation of Lithuania.