A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more
Shtetl Life - Occupations
Shtetl Life - Politics in Vilkaviskis
With the help of material from the magnificent article by Josef Rosin I am attemting in the following pages to give some small picture of Jewish communal life in Vilkaviskis before it was all tragically destroyed in the summer of 1941.
During the autonomy the workers parties "Bund" and "Poalei Zion" dominated the Jewish public. At the head of the "Poalei Zion" party stood Efraim Bruker and his wife Rashel, the accountant Album and Yisrael Nitzevitz.
A delegate from VILKOVISHK participated in the regional conference of "Poalei-Zion" which took place in Suvalk in 1919.
The "Bund" was forced to stop its activities in 1921, where some of its members merged with the underground Communist party and others with the "Poalei Zion-Smol (Left)", which too was forced to disband after the nationalist party took over in Lithuania.
From the entire Yiddishists group in Vilkovishk there remained only the "Volkists" (populists), who stood for the use of the Yiddish language and opposed Zionism. Their organ of opinion was the daily newspaper "Volksblat" published in Kovno.
In those years the Zionist Vilkovishk with all its nuances became the dominating movement among VILKOVISHK Jews. All Zionist parties were active there: Z"S (Zionist-Socialist), Z"Z (Tseirei Zion) from the labor movement; the General Zionists; Mizrachi; Revisionists; WIZO (Women International Zionist Organization). The Zionist youth organizations who were avtive were: HeChalutz, HaShomer HaTsair, Betar.
The Z"S party, or as it was called later "The Eretz Yisrael Workers Movement" was very active in Vilkovishk in the thirties. The cultural/artistic parties this movement arranged would always attract large audiences. For example, in December 1934 in the hall of the Hebrew High School, a big party in honor of the "Histadrut" (Federation of Labor in Eretz-Yisrael) was arranged. The speakers on the history and the function of the "Histadrut" were: M.Varshavsky, M.Yarovsky, M.Karnovsky and Al.Varshavsky. Those who participated in the artistic part of the party were David Neishtot, Avraham Olvitzky and Y.Faktorovsky, and the organizer of the party was Avraham Vinderovitz. Among the excellent activists in Zionist and pubic work was Mrs. S.Litovitz, who immigrated to Eretz-Yisrael in the middle thirties.
In those years two "Kibbutzei Hachshara" (Training Kibbutzim) on behalf of "HeChalutz" and the General Zionists acted in Vilkovishk. Many of these "Chalutzim" made "Aliyah" and were among the founders of the Kibbutzim Beth-Zera, Givath-Brener, Dafna, Yagur, Tel-Yosef etc.
The ecconomic situation of Jews in Vilkaviskis pre World War 2