Kaunas signs cooperation agreement with Jewish NGO over Zaliakalnis cemetery

  • 2015-08-06
  • BNS/George East/Kaunas

The Municipality of Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city, has signed a cooperation agreement with Jewish nongovernmental organization, Maceva regarding its Old Jewish Cemetery in Zaliakalnis.

"Kaunas City Municipality has taken a historic country-scale step. We are glad that the city itself is starting tending to Jewish cemeteries,” said Sergey Kanovich, one of the Maceva co-founders. I am convinced that this step will be appreciated not only by the Lithuanian but also foreign community.”

Richard Schofield, the head of the Kaunas-based NGO, the International Centre for Litvak Photography, believes the news regarding the Old Jewish Cemetery is “long overdue” and Kaunas’ Municipality’s move is a lesson to Vilnius in dealing with its Jewish heritage. 

“I think it's a great piece of long overdue news,” Schofield told the Baltic Times. Lithuania is finally turning the corner, and Kaunas has thrown down the gauntlet to Vilnius. 

“Kaunas 1, - Vilnius 0.”

Maceva is a small group of dedicated individuals involved in maintaining and documenting tremaining Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania through pictures. It has already documented over 50 Jewish cemeteries throughout Lithuania.

In July 2014, the Kaunas authorities decided to start gradual maintenance of the Old Jewish Cemetery near Radvilenai road.

The Kaunas authorities plan to tend to the cemetery in several stages and allocate 8,000 euros for the re-organisation and identification of graves.

The Jewish cemetery in Zaliakalnis was opened in 1861 and closed in 1952. It is on the Heritage Registry and state-protected.