The memorial was erected next to Vandžiogala’s old cemetery through the efforts of the Kaunas district, Litvaks living in the United States, Israel’s embassy to Lithuania and the Jewish Community of Lithuania, the local authority said.
“When we are here, we understand very well that the cemetery is not only a place of burial. It is an important part of Lithuanian history and culture,” Kaunas District Mayor Valerijus Makūnas said in a press release.
“We are saddened and sorry for the terrible facts of history. At the same time, we are proud of those Lithuanian citizens who risked their lives to save the Jews from annihilation,” he added.
The Jews settled in Vandžiogala back in the 16th century. The community had their synagogue and school, according to the press release.
According to witnesses, some 300 to 400 Jews of Vandžiogala and Babtai, another small town in the district, were killed on July 8, 1941.
More than 90 percent of Lithuania’s total pre-war Jewish population of over 200,000 were killed by the Nazis and their local collaborators.