WWII Jewish ghetto victims in Lithuania remembered

AP News
Posted: Sep 22, 2011 2:27 PM
WWII Jewish ghetto victims in Lithuania remembered

A memorial ceremony for thousands of Jewish victims of the Holocaust was held Thursday in a church in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, with volunteers reading the name and profession of every resident who lived in the Jewish ghetto.

Organizers said the lists of names, gathered from a census taken in 1942, includes thousands of names and would require at least 15 hours to read.

The ghetto was established after Nazi Germany took over Lithuania in 1941. A large part of the ghetto's population died from either starvation or disease, and those who survived where subsequently shot outside Vilnius or sent to death camps.

"There were thousands on names read today _ names of Jews who died in a forest near Vilnius after the Nazis marched them there from the ghetto," lawmaker Emanuelis Zingeris told The Associated Press.

"It was especially touching to see dozens of young and old Lithuanians reading those names in their church from dawn till dusk. This is the right way to remember victims of the Holocaust," he said.

About 95 percent of the country's prewar Jewish population of 220,000 people was killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.

Friday marks the 68th anniversary of the destruction of the Vilnius ghetto, which effectively marked the end of Lithuania's Jewish community.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Lithuania, the Baltic state is holding numerous events this year.

In June, lawmakers voted to pay $53 million in compensation for the seizure of Jewish property by Nazis during the war.

(This version corrects anniversary of ghetto destruction.)