האתר שבו תוכנן שביל האופניים - מקום קבורתם של אלפי יהודים סמוך לעיירה סיאוליאי שבליטא
A sign at the memorial site in the area
Photo: Courtesy of the Jewish community in Šiauliai
The Jewish memorial site where the track was planned, with a monument on the background

Lithuanian city under fire for planning bicycle track on mass Jewish grave

Local authorities in Šiauliai temporarily halt works in an area where thousands of Jews were murdered and buried by Nazis and Lithuanian soldiers, after intervention from Chief Rabbi of Lithuania and other Jewish officials

Kobi Nachshoni |
Published: 11.15.21, 15:50
A city in Lithuanian has drawn outrage from the local Jewish community over its plan to build a bicycle track in an area site where thousands of Jews were buried during the Holocaust.
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  • The construction of the track in Šiauliai had started last week and was brought to the attention of Jewish officials after it emerged some of it would pass through the grounds where many Jews were murdered by the Nazis and Lithuanian soldiers, who dumped their bodies in the forest land.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מצבה מעידה על מהותו של המקום, אך זה לא מנע את התוכניות
    מצבה מעידה על מהותו של המקום, אך זה לא מנע את התוכניות
    The Jewish memorial site where the track was planned, with a monument on the background
    (Photo: Courtesy of the Jewish community in Šiauliai)
    A member of the Conference of European Rabbis, Kalev Krelin, who is also the Chief Rabbi of Lithuania over the weekend visited the site and managed to temporarily stop the construction works, demanding the path be rerouted.
    "I'm very shocked. If it is not enough that our people were murdered on this land, now their remains are defiled for a bicycle track?!"
    The head of the local Jewish community, Sania Krabalis, said that human remains were buried along a large chuck of the planned route.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    הרב כלב קרעלין, רבה של ריגה בלטביה וחבר ועידת רבני אירופה
    הרב כלב קרעלין, רבה של ריגה בלטביה וחבר ועידת רבני אירופה
    Chief Rabbi of Lithuania, Kalev Krelin and a member of the Conference of European Rabbis
    (Photo: Courtesy of the Jewish community in Šiauliai)
    As a result, Deputy Mayor Simona Potalan held an emergency meeting with the relevant authorities - the heads of the historical site conservation department and the the construction division - later announcing the track would be rerouted and an updated plan will be unveiled within a month.
    In addition, they also decided to renovate the small sign at the memorial constructed in the area and mark the boundaries of the burial site in order to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    האתר שבו תוכנן שביל האופניים - מקום קבורתם של אלפי יהודים סמוך לעיירה סיאוליאי שבליטא
    האתר שבו תוכנן שביל האופניים - מקום קבורתם של אלפי יהודים סמוך לעיירה סיאוליאי שבליטא
    A sign at the memorial site in the area
    (Photo: Courtesy of the Jewish community in Šiauliai)
    "It is sad that we had to intervene in order to prevent the grave desecration of murdered Jews," Rabbi Krelin said. "I hope this will be the end of this issue and a lesson for them and others.
    "I'm still very worried and disturbed that even though they knew about the memorial site and they were the ones who put up the signs, they still decided to build the bicycle track there," he added.

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