• Paneriai Memorial and Museum
The village 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. A museum and several memorial stones commemorate the tens of thousands of Jews and other victims murdered in Paneriai.
Image: Paneriai, probably 1941, Shootings in one of the construction pits dug by the Soviets for oil tanks, USHMM
Paneriai, probably 1941, Shootings in one of the construction pits dug by the Soviets for oil tanks, USHMM

Image: Paneriai, 2004, One of the shooting sites, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2004, One of the shooting sites, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai belonged to Poland between the two World Wars. In 1939, the Soviet Red Army occupied this area and began to set up a military base with underground storage facilities for aviation fuel next to the railway station of Paneriai. After the invasion of the German Army in Lithuania, the new occupiers used the construction site from July 1941 onwards primarily as a site for mass shootings of the Jewish population of Vilnius. Until the end of 1941 alone, the German SD (Sicherheitsdienst – security service) in cooperation with the police murdered around 56,500 Jews at this site, actively helped by a unit comprising of about 50 Lithuanian collaborators (Lithuanian: Ypatingasis būrys – Special Squad). The mass murders in the Ponary forest continued until July 1944.
In order to eliminate the traces of the mass murder, the perpetrators had the corpses from the mass graves exhumed and burned from September 1943 onwards. This measure called »Aktion 1005« was carried out by forced labourers, many of them Jews and Soviet POWs.
Image: Paneriai, probably 1941, Shootings in one of the construction pits dug by the Soviets for oil tanks, USHMM
Paneriai, probably 1941, Shootings in one of the construction pits dug by the Soviets for oil tanks, USHMM

Image: Paneriai, 2004, One of the shooting sites, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2004, One of the shooting sites, Stiftung Denkmal
The exact number of people murdered in the Paneriai forest is unclear, it is estimated to be around 70.000. The Soviet official reports stated that the number of victims was 100.000, but experts today agree that this number was exaggerated.
A large part of the victims were Jews, but also Soviet prisoners of war, Polish resistance fighters, Lithuanian civilians and Roma were murdered here.
Image: Paneriai, July 1941, Members of the Lithuanian Special Squad marching Jews to their execution, Yad Vashem, Photo taken by Wehrmacht soldier Otto Schroff
Paneriai, July 1941, Members of the Lithuanian Special Squad marching Jews to their execution, Yad Vashem, Photo taken by Wehrmacht soldier Otto Schroff

Image: Paneriai, 2004, Commemorative stone set up after Lithuania regained its independence, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2004, Commemorative stone set up after Lithuania regained its independence, Stiftung Denkmal
The memorial complex in the forest close to Paneriai incorporates several monuments and a museum founded in 1960. Personal objects, documents and photos of the victims are displayed here.
In 1985, the Soviet authorities financed the redesign of the site, a new museum building and a revision of the exhibition. At the time Lithuania regained its independence, a memorial stone was set up in June 1991 on initiative of the Jewish community of Vilnius and the Vilnius Committee in Israel, the first one to bear an inscription dedicated to the Jews murdered in Paneriai. The inscription is in five languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Lithuanian, English and Russian. Monuments to the murdered Poles and Lithuanians were erected at the memorial complex in 1989 and 1993 respectively.
Image: Paneriai, 2004, Museum on the former site of mass shootings, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2004, Museum on the former site of mass shootings, Stiftung Denkmal

Image: Paneriai, 2004, Memorial to the Polish victims, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2004, Memorial to the Polish victims, Stiftung Denkmal
Image: Paneriai, 2011, Entrance to the memorial site, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2011, Entrance to the memorial site, Stiftung Denkmal
Image: Paneriai, 2011, Soviet Obelisk from 1948, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2011, Soviet Obelisk from 1948, Stiftung Denkmal
Image: Paneriai, 2011, Memorial for the Jewish victims, erected in 1991, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2011, Memorial for the Jewish victims, erected in 1991, Stiftung Denkmal
Image: Paneriai, 2011, Inscription on the Jewish memorial, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2011, Inscription on the Jewish memorial, Stiftung Denkmal
Image: Paneriai, 2011, View of the Jewish memorial, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2011, View of the Jewish memorial, Stiftung Denkmal
Image: Paneriai, 2011, Model of a ladder used to lift corpses in order to burn them, Stiftung Denkmal
Paneriai, 2011, Model of a ladder used to lift corpses in order to burn them, Stiftung Denkmal
Name
Panerių Memorialinis Muziejus
Address
Agrastų g. 17
02243 Paneriai
Phone
+370 699 90 384
Web
http://www.jmuseum.lt
E-Mail
jewishmuseum@jmuseum.lt
Open
The memorials are accessible at all times.
Museum open Tuesday to Sunday: 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (or by telephone arrangement).
From Octobre to April only by telephone arrangement.
Possibilities
Exhibition, guided tours, commemorational ceremonies