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Tour to Paneriai (duration - 3 hours)

    Paneriai is six miles outside Vilnius. It had been a quiet small suburb in the Vilnius district up to the beginning of Second World War. Since then it has been associated only with suffering and death. During World War II, the Nazis turned the Paneriai forest into mass killing site. Between 1941 and 1944, at least 100,000 innocent Vilnius civilians, prisoners of war, priests, partisans and underground fighters were killed here and buried into pits. Seventy thousand of those killed were Jews, who were systematically annihilated from the time the Germans arrived in Vilnius in 1941 up to 1944 when Soviet army drove out German troops. The territory of several kilometers has become a common grave for the people of different nationalities: Lithuanians, Russians, Poles and Jews.
    The first monument in Paneriai was erected in 1948, but in 1952 it was replaced by the new one. Probably, because of the fact, Jews on the first monument were mentioned among the victims of fascism. That was unacceptable in the country, where the policy of anti-Semitism was carried out. The second inscription was more "correct": "Here the Nazis shot over 100,000 Soviet people." Only in 1990, with the beginning of the Lithuanian Revival Movement, a new text in Hebrew was added. In 1960, in Paneriai a museum displaying the tragedy of Paneriai was established. In 1985, the first memorial was set up, later accomplished by several more.
    Nowadays, the entrance to the Paneriai memorial complex is marked by three stone slabs with the inscription in Russian, Lithuanian and Hebrew that were established to embalm the memory of the hundred thousands murdered people. From here a path leads to the Paneriai museum and two monuments. One of them is a monument, commemorating seventy thousand Vilnius Jews, executed by the Nazis. The other is a Soviet obelisk to all the "victims of fascist terror". The paths lead further, to the pits in the wood where dead bodies were burnt and to another eight-meter pit where the bones of the dead were crushed.

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