Marching to Ponary: Marking 80 Years Since Liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto

Lithuanian Government, local Jewish community, and International March of the Living marches from the Jewish Ghetto in Vilnius to the mass grave at Ponary.

Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė leads the march

Vilnius, LithuaniaSeptember 21, 2023 –  Marking the National Memorial Day for the Genocide of Lithuanian Jews, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Ingrida Šimonytė along with other senior Lithuanian Government officials and the International Commission for the investigation of the Nazis crimes in Lithuania, today (Thursday, 21 September), joined members and leaders of the Lithuanian Jewish community, and Holocaust education and commemoration organization, the International March of the Living, in a symbolic march from the site of the Jewish Ghetto in Vilnius, to the mass grave on the Paneriai (formerly Ponary) suburb of the city. 

Between July 1941-August 1944, some 70,000 people, mostly Jewish Lithuanians were murdered in cold blood by the Nazis and their collaborators, at the Ponary mass grave. Each year, Lithuania remembers the victims in a national memorial day, marking the anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto – which was carried out 80 years ago, 23–24 September 1943. 

The march of remembrance saw thousands of people, among them hundreds of young students, retrace the fateful journey of many of the Jewish men, women, and children of the ghetto who were taken to Ponary to be murdered. 

“The International March of the Living holds marches throughout Europe throughout the year, on national days such as Holocaust Remembrance Day, often marking the day on which Jews were carried away to the extermination camps, or to the woods to be murdered in mass graves. The Ponary Massacre was one of the cruelest mass killings of those dark days, and our annual march to the graves of over 70,000 Jews buried there, serves as a memorial to the Jews who once lived here and had their lives brutally cut short. It also serves as a reminder to us all that antisemitism and hatred still persist, and we must always boldly proclaim, Never Means Never.” 

— Michel Gourary, Director of the European March of the Living 

Attending the march for the second consecutive year, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė noted last year: “What happened is not just a tragedy of the Jewish people, it is a tragedy of all the peoples who lived then and live now in Lithuania – it is a tragedy of the whole world because the world. However, such catastrophes can happen again – outbreaks of violence and incitement to hatred have not gone away.” 

Lithuanian Jewry consisted of approximately 200,000 Jews before the Holocaust, with 70,000 living in the capital city of Vilnius, where the main ghetto was built. The Nazis nearly obliterated the Jewish community in Lithuania in the summer and autumn of 1941 in what is called “Holocaust by Bullets,” when Nazis shot the Jews of Eastern Europe and buried them in mass graves. Over 200 Jewish communities were obliterated in Lithuania alone. Ponary marks one of the most prominent symbols of the Holocaust, for Eastern European Jews and in general.

About Staff

They call me "NewsHound IV," because I'm a clever Finnegan, sniffing out stories all over the Boulder area. I love Jewish holidays because the food is GREAT, especially the brisket. Well all the food. I was a rescue pup and glad to be on the scent!

Check Also

Ruth Malman at JEWISHcolorado event

Ruth Malman To Be Honored with 2024 Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award

JEWISHcolorado Women’s Philanthropy is excited to announce Ruth Malman will be honored with the 2024 Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award. This prestigious award honors extraordinary women who have set a high standard for philanthropy and volunteerism and who have a lifetime of commitment to the Jewish world.

Teacher Appreciation Week at the Boulder JCC Early Childhood Center

Monday, May 6 starts the week-long celebration of our teachers at the Boulder JCC for Teacher Appreciation Week.