Vilnius city authorities began dismantling a Soviet-era structure made from Jewish headstones last week, led by the city's mayor.
Vilnius Mayor at the generator building in Vilnius

The generator building was built by the Soviet authorities of Lithuania between 1965 and 1968, when it was part of the Soviet Union, with the headstones removed from a Jewish cemetery.

“After 26 years as an independent country it is now the time to remove these stones, which are a clear mark of disrespect to our Jewish community,” said Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius said. “The stones will be removed from the generator and moved to a memorial, which will be built on Olandų Street with the cooperation of Vilnius’ Jewish community.”

On Wednesday, Šimašius removed the first stone from the structure housing an electricity and heating generator on Olandų Street.
Smaller fragments of the gravestones will also be reburied in the cemetery and the headstones are to be moved to a memorial made from marble stones that is to be finished this fall.

Last year, Šimašius met with Faina Kukliansky, the head of the city’s Jewish community, and Cultural Heritage director Diana Varnaite to discuss dismantling structures built from Jewish gravestones in Vilnius during the Soviet period as a mark of respect to the city’s Jewish history.

The building is expected to be fully dismantled by August.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that last year, Lithuania’s then-chief rabbi urged the country’s Evangelical Reformed Church to remove Jewish headstones that were being used as stairs to a Vilnius church.
Rabbi Chaim Burshtein’s call concerned a 30-foot-long staircase made out of Jewish headstones that leads to the main entrance of the church’s largest building in the Lithuanian capital, on Pylimo Street. The headstones also were installed when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union.

“We regret the deplorable state and destruction of the last remnants of the memory of Lithuanian Jewry,” Burshtein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

He said Lithuania “has many places built out of Jewish headstones. I think the authorities and the Jewish community need to perform thorough research and correct at least this historic wrong”.

Hotel in Vilnius succeeded in prestigious Surface Travel Awards

The 17th-century mansion-turned-hotel located in Vilnius Old Town was named the winner in the large...

Actors and director get fines for 'church show'

Three actors and a director have been fined in Lithuania for disturbing a religious service at a...

Head of Holocaust memorial would like info to be available in Lithuanian as well

Avner Shalev, chairman of the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem , the World Holocaust Remembrance Center,...

2020: The Year of Chiune Sugihara

Next year will mark the 80th anniversary of the Japanese diplomat’s noble work while residing in...

Czeslaw Milosz stairs unveiled in Krakow in 2nd such commemorative project after Vilnius

The Stairs of Czeslaw Milosz have been unveiled in Krakow to mark 15 years since the...