Just like each and every other town in Lithuania, Šeduva has as the most barbarous episode of it history the Lithuanian Holocaust. It is not easy to tell this story. There are many narratives that contradict each other, with many omitted or unclear episodes. The omissions can be partly explained by the current policy of historical memory in Lithuania, as well as by the authority of some organizations that thsemlves took active part in these horrible events. Narratives that are unfavorable to them are denied, downplayed, or classified as “information warfare” (in other words: “Russia”). I have previously written about the difficulty in asssessing assorted narratives here.
The summary version of of the Šeduva Jews’ massacre that I recounted includes these critical dates:
June 25, 1941: The Nazis occupy Šeduva.
July 22, 1941: Šeduva’s Jews are driven into the town’s ghetto established to incarcerate its Jewish citizens.
August 25t, 1941: The city’s 665 Jews are murdered in Liaudiškiai forest. But a few of the Jewish families of volunteers (veterans) of Lithuania’s War of Independence in 1918 are “allowed” to live, under the condition that they abandon their Jewishness and get baptized. The residents of Šeduva and its vicinity observe the public baptism at the church. A couple of weeks later those baptized are driven to Panevėžys and also shot dead, like all their unbaptized brethren who were not “saved by baptism” for having volunteered over two decades earlier to fight in the nation’s War of Independence. The only one who survived was Ms. S. Nolienė, who was hidden by the priest M. Karosas.
The shooters shared amongst themselves the Jews’ property. In their testimony they claimed not to know the names of the Jews they shot, but they recall in exquisite detail the property they got for their work and which Jews had owned. The Germans actually bickered over the Jews’ valuables. The record contains Šiauliai Gebeitskomissar Gewecke’s complaint “To the Reich Commissar for Ostland” where he complains that “A Captain Stasys Senulis, residing in Schadow, Ponnewesch district, appeared today at the office of the Regional Commissariat in Schaulen, stating that he had been ordered by SS Colonel Jaeger to seize all silver and gold articles of Jewish ownership” (pages 517-518 ).
This time, I will try to tell the story of those responsible for this tragedy.
Yes, the massacre was initiated by the Nazi occupiers. However, many Lithuanians readily took an active part in it.