Encyclopedia

Kovno

(Lith. Kaunas) a city in central Lithuania which was the capital of independent Lithuania between 1920 and 1940. In 1940, all of Lithuania was incorporated into the Soviet Union.

On June 24, 1941, the third day of the invasion of the Soviet Union Kovno was occupied by the Germans. Even before the Germans began entering the city, Lithuanian gangs went on a rampage of murder. Thousands of Jews were moved to the Seventh Fort and other locations where they were mistreated then murdered by Lithuanian guards. A total of 10,000 Jews were murdered in June and July of 1941.

The Kovno ghetto was sealed off in August 1941. The killings continued. On October 28, 1941, the date of the "big Aktion" 9,000 Jews, half of them children, were taken to the Ninth Fort and murdered.

A period of relative calm ensued. Most of the 17,412 Jews left in the ghetto were put to forced labor. Like in most other large ghettos life was administered by a community organization headed by an elderly Jew. Welfare and educational organizations sprang up.

In June 1943, it was decided to impose a concentration camp regime on the ghetto. Young Jews organized resistance groups. At the end of 1943, 170 members of a resistance organization made off for partisan bases in the Rudninkai forest, south of Vilna.

On July 8, 1944 as the Red Army approached Kovno the remaining Jews were transferred to concentration camps inside Germany, to Kaufering or Stutthof concentration camps. Ninety Jews were able to hold out in bunkers and lived to see the Red Army enter the city.


Source: Gutman, The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.



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