Rakishok (Lithuania)


A provincial capital in North-East Lithuania, Rakishok became a provincial capital in World War I during the German occupation. In 1921, there were 1900 Jews and in 1923, 2013 in the town. During this period many shops were opened, most of them by Jews.

In the mid twenties Jews began to emigrate to South Africa and the USA. On the eve of World War II, there were 300 Jews in Rakishok, 40% of the town’s population. The Germans entered the town on June 28th, 1941. Many Jews were shot in the street the next day, during the victory parade of the German troops. Gangs of Lithuanians harassed and abused the Jews in the streets of the town. On the 15th and 16th of August, 1941, the Jewish men were murdered at a site outside the town. On August 25th, the women and children were also murdered. Close to 4800 Jews from Rakishok and the surrounding areas were killed by Lithuanians and Germans.

In 1937, there were 101 Jewish craftsmen in Rakishok, and several hundred Jews made their living from small industry. There were two photographic studios owned by Jews and several movie theatres. Most of the doctors and pharmacists were Jews. Most of the Jews in the town were Hassidim. There was a private high school for girls and the schools of the “Tarbut” and “Yavneh” networks. The community charities were “Linat Zedek”, “Bikkur Holim”, an orphanage, and a women’s league for charity.