Kovno ghetto timeline

Reading of the Rabinowitz family's terrible experience in Kovno under Nazi occupation, I realized that I needed a better understanding of the sequence of historical events. Looking online, I found a very wonderful multimedia exhibit The Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto, presented by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The online exhibit is incredibly rich with photos and other artifacts, and so much well organized information that I have still not read it all. So I highly recommend that you check it out. Make sure you have the latest Shockwave plugin for your browser to view the multimedia content.

One useful feature of the site is a timeline of events, which I have borrowed below along with a few images. This content is a tiny fraction of the whole site, so please check it out.

1941 June 24
German forces enter Kovno at night, encountering Lithuanian "activists" engaged in pogroms against Jews.

1941 June 25
George Kadish takes his first photograph of the words "revenge" written in blood.

1941 June 25
SS Brigadier General Walter Stahlecker, Commander of Einsatzgruppe A, enters Kovno. Pogroms against Kovno’s Jews are accelerated.

1941 June 26
Lithuanian nationalists set fire to several synagogues, killing some 1,000 Rabbis and their followers.

1941 June 27
Lithuanian "partisans" kill 60 Jews at the Lietukis garage.

1941 July 2
SS Colonel Karl Jäger takes over security and police command in Lithuania.

1941 July 7
Avraham Tory begins working on his diary.

1941 July 10
Order issued for 30,000 Kovno Jews to move into the ghetto.

1941 July 24
Kovno municipal authorities confiscate property of arrested and murdered Jews.

1941 August 2
Einsatzkommandos lead mass shootings by Lithuanian auxiliaries of more than 200 Jewish men and women at Fort IV in Kovno. Most of the women held at the fort endure rape and other forms of abuse; some are released.

1941 August 15
The Kovno ghetto is closed under police guard.

1941 August 18
"Intellectuals Action" -- 534 Jews, including many professionals, are killed at Fort IV.

1941 September 15
Kovno Jewish Council issues 5,000 craftsmen certificates, also known as "life certificates," intended to protect holders by ensuring them work.

1941 October 1
Daily work brigades begin to Aleksotas military airfield.

1941 October 4
The "Small Ghetto" and the Hospital are liquidated. Some 1,800 people are killed.

1941 October 28
The "Great Action" in the Kovno ghetto.

1941 October 29
9,200 Jewish men, women and children, separated from the Kovno ghetto population during the so-called "Great Action," are shot at Fort IX

1941 October 29
Ghetto labor brigades resume.

November 1, 1941
A 22-month-long "quiet period" begins

1941 November 25
The Education Office is established under direction of cultural leader Chaim Nachman Shapiro. Shapiro also launches a secret archival project and encourages artists and writers to begin documentary efforts.

1941 November 25
Jews from Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich, destined for the Kovno ghetto, are shot at Fort IX.

1941 November 29
2,000 Jews (including 1,155 women and 152 children) from Vienna and Breslau are shot at Fort IX

1941 December 1
SS Colonel Karl Jäger reports that "our objective, to solve the Jewish problem for Lithuania, has been achieved." He claims a total of 136,442 Jews are killed by Einsatzkommando 3 and Lithuanian auxiliaries.

1941 December 31
Communist resistance groups in the ghetto merge to form the Anti-Fascist Organization under Chaim Yelin.

1942 January 11
SS orders the evacuation of a portion of the ghetto in order to make room for transports of German Jews. The deportees never arrive in the ghetto; they are sent directly to Fort IX and executed.

1942 January 12
Ghetto workshops begin operations.

1942 February 27
Germans confiscate books. Ghetto inmates hide many books and Torah scrolls, but those not hidden are sent to Frankfurt.

1942 March 12
A shoemaking workshop is organized to repair military boots and other footwear.

1942 March 25
SS Colonel Jäger orders an area of Kovno ghetto evacuated by May 1; 3,000 persons are forced to moved to other areas of the ghetto.

1942 April 21
Jewish Council appeals to parents to send their children to the ghetto school.

1942 April 26
Jewish Council issues regulations regarding the vegetable gardens and the communal soup kitchen.

1942 May 1
Germans again reduce area of the ghetto by redrawing boundaries. Crowding worsens.

1942 June 2
73 people are sent to dig peat in Palemonas, six miles from Kovno.

1942 June 28
The Ghetto Police orchestra plays for schoolchildren in former yeshiva. Organizers asked audience to refrain from applauding out of respect for dead.

1942 July 2
German order requiring work for all men older than 15 and all women aged 17 to 47 with no children under 6.

1942 July 24
Germans issue order prohibiting pregnancies and births in ghetto.

1942 August 16
Jewish Council calls on women with children under 8 years of age to register for gardening in the ghetto.

1942 August 26
Germans prohibit all religious observances and order schools closed.

1942 October 23
Germans deport 369 Jews from Kovno to the Riga ghetto (Latvia).

1942 November 18
Jewish Ghetto Police hangs Meck publicly in ghetto. The next day, his mother and sister are shot at Fort IX.

1943 February 28
Burial of Rabbi Avraham Duber Shapiro, Chief Rabbi of Kovno, who dies after a long illness.

1943 June–July
Zionist and pro-Soviet underground unite under the leadership of Chaim Yelin.

1943 July 24
Exhibition of Esther Lurie’s drawings in the graphics workshop.

1943 September
In anticipation of forced retreat, Germans begin to use Jewish prisoners and Soviet prisoners of war to exhume and burn corpses from mass graves at Fort IX.

1943 September 15
Gestapo transfers of control of Kovno ghetto administration and workshops. The transfer signals the transformation of the ghetto into a concentration camp and signals end to more than 22 months of relative calm in ghetto.

1943 October 1
Jews in the Kovno area concentrated into 8 labor camps.

1943 October 26
Russian and Ukrainian auxiliaries assist Germans in deportation of 2,700 Jews from Kovno. Those of working age are transported to Vaivara and Klooga, Estonia, while very young and old are deported to their deaths at Auschwitz.

1943 October 19
Dr. Elkhanan Elkes writes his "Last Letter."

1943 October 28
43 partisans try to escape for Augustow Forest. Only two men succeed.

1943 November 23
Ten armed partisans escape on foot to Rudniki [Rudninkai] Forest, 94 miles away; six reach their destination.

1943 November 30
Some 1,000 are taken to satellite camp in Aleksotas

1943 December 2
Chaim Nachman Shapiro and his family are killed at Fort IX after being led to believe they were to have safe passage to Switzerland

1943 December 25
Prisoners who had been forced to exhume corpses at Fort IX escape.

1944 March 27
In an effort to obtain information about the underground, Gestapo agents arrest and torture some 130 Jewish ghetto policemen at Fort IX. Thirty-six men are killed after refusing to cooperate, including Police Chief Moshe Levin and his assistants, Joshua Greenberg and Yehuda Zupowitz.

1944 March 27-28
After work brigades leave the ghetto for daily work assignments, Gestapo and Ukrainian auxiliaries begin to round up those left behind, mostly children under 12 and adults over 55. The so-called "Children’s Action" continued another day, during which a total of 1,300 Jews were murdered.

1944 April 3
Final meeting of the Jewish Council.

1944 April 4
Germans liquidate all remaining offices in the ghetto institutions.

1944 April 6
Underground leader Chaim Yelin is arrested in central Kovno after an exchange of gunfire with police. He is executed in early May after being tortured.

1944 July 6
Germans surround the ghetto, in preparation for its liquidation.

1944 July 8-13
As the Soviet army nears, the Germans begin six-day liquidation of ghetto, evacuating the former ghetto’s remaining population by train and by barge for deportation to the Stutthof and Dachau concentration camps in Germany. The camp is set aflame to smoke out those still hiding in underground bunkers.

1944 July 19
Stuthoff concentration camp registers 1,209 women and children from the Kovno ghetto.

1944 July 26
Jews from the Kovno and Siauliai ghettos are transported from Stutthof to Auschwitz.

1944 August 1
Soviet Army enters Kovno. A few Jews who survived hiding in bunkers are liberated.

1944 August 4
Avraham Tory returns to Kovno and retrieves three of five crates he buried containing his ghetto diary and other ghetto documents.

1944 October 17
Chairman Dr. Elkhanan Elkes dies in Dachau.

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