A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more
Recovering from the effects of the First World War 1
From a municapal report [translated]
At the end of 1918, with the waves of revolution in Germany and the collapse of the monarchy, the hitherto iron-fisted German military occupation of Lithuania relaxed considerably and the local population began to show more leniency and favoritism.
Already at the end of November, the German authorities announced that they would evacuate the territory of Lithuania and that the local population could organize their own administrative bodies to which the administration of the country would be transferred.
The public of Vilkaviskis gathered on 21 November 1918 and elected a Provisional Town Council , consisting of six Christians and six Jews. All inhabitants of the town aged 20 years or over shall be allowed to take part in the elections. At the appointed time in the local parish hall the elections took place and the following were elected to the temporary committee: Dr. Juozas Kudirka, Andrius Matulevičius, Stasys Bartininkaitis, Jonas Vilčinskas, Elena Stankevičiūtė, Matas Arminas, Josel Kabaker, Lipman Jappu, Abram Berman, Girš Feltenstein, Abram Albohm, and Yankele Chmelevskis.
At the very first meeting many important vital matters were raised and settled: the arbitrary requisitioning of foodstuffs was forbidden, the German authorities were required to hand over to the Committee the taxes collected from the inhabitants for the month of December. It was decided to draw up an estimate for the four months ending April 1919, and for this purpose a commission was elected, consisting of Matas Arminas and Girsas Feltenstein
Negotiations were held with the local German occupation authorities and various demands were made of them to alleviate the living conditions in the city, but the Germans paid little attention to the legitimate demands made by the Committee and obstructed its activities. Without the knowledge of the Committee they issued various orders, often contrary to the Committee's orders, but the Committee acted vigorously and strongly protested against every German interference, demanding that German control be removed and that the Committee be allowed to manage public life itself. This struggle against the local German occupation authorities continued until the Germans withdrew from Vilkaviskis.
The conditions for the Committee's work were very difficult: lack of money, lack of consumer products, the disrupted and degraded economy of the town, the large number of poor and hungry people, widespread speculation, interference from the Germans, lack of skilled workers, etc.
As soon as the Committee began its activities, the need for a militia to maintain order immediately arose. Already at its meeting on 1 December, the Committee decided to organize it with 13 men and a senior militiaman. A two-member commission was elected to organize the militia: S. Bartininkaitis and A. Albom. It was decided that the militiamen could be men who knew the Lithuanian language and were of good behavior. . No persons who had previously served in the Russian police were accepted. Later, the militia cadre was enlarged to 20 men. Stasys Jucevičius was appointed the commander of the militia. As soon as the militia was organized, it had to clash with the German occupation authorities. It demanded that the militia should not be at the disposal of the Committee, but of the German civil authorities, and that it should only obey their orders.
Among the more important works carried out by the Committee in 1918 was the purchase of the Vilkaviškis town electricity station from the German occupation authorities. The Town Committee was very concerned that the former power station should not fall into private hands, and already at its meeting on 4 December it resolved the matter positively and elected a commission consisting of Dr. Juozas Kudirka, Lipman Jappu, Jankelis Chmelevskis and Mats Armins to negotiate with the Germans. The power station became the property of the town on 2 January 1919.
Thiis site was built by Ralph Salinger of Kfar Ruppin, Israel
It is built to the glory of the Jewish Community of Vilkaviskis
You can contact me with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org,il