Dark tourism? / Paneriai Memorial, Vilnius
The small town of Paneriai (Yiddish: Ponar, Polish: Ponary) is situated around ten kilometres west of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. Under the German occupation of Lithuania, one of the largest shooting sites of the SS was located here.
The Paneriai massacre was the mass murder of up to 100,000 people by German SD, SS and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators. The executions took place between July 1941 and August 1944 near the railway station of Ponary, now known as Paneriai, a suburb of what is today Vilnius. Some 70,000 Jews were murdered in Paneriai, along with between 2,000 and 20,000 Poles and 8,000 Russian prisoners of war, many from nearby Vilnius. Lithuania and the Baltic States became the first place outside occupied Poland where the Nazis would mass execute Jews as part of the Final Solution. Out of 70,000 Jews living in Vilnius, only 7,000 (10%) survived the war.
When the German took Vilnius on June 24 1941, they took note of the unfinished liquid fuel base tank base made by Red Army forces next to Paneriai railway station. At that time seven big pits had been dug. The Nazis used these pits for mass extermination operarions. They also burned corpses and used acid to destroy evidence of mass executions.
The monument at Paneriai with inscriptions in Yiddish and Russian was erected by Holocaust surviviors in June 1945. It disappeared in 1948-52. The Museum was opened in 1960. In 1985 a new museum building was built and the territory was also renovated under architect Jaunitus Makariunas. In July 1991 the Jewish community together with Vilnius commitee in Israel erected the first memorial Stone with inscriptions in Hebrew, Yiddish, Lithuanian and Russian. In 1991 The Paneriai Museum was transferred to the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. In 2011, the new conception for a renovation of the Paneriai Memorial was started.
These photos were taken in August 2016