My sisters and I visited the Kausenai massacre site last week at Plunge in Lithuania and we were very upset and disappointed by the lack of maintenance and care of the site. Weeds were growing everywhere from the burial locations and there were many glass lanterns smashed and vandalised.
In addition I found one sign behind the memorial thrown into the bushes and I placed it back on top of one of the burial sites.
Our forefathers in the Levitt family were murdered and buried here and we are very upset.
Can you please help us understand why the site is kept in such a poor condition. As international tourists and people who love Lithuania we are alarmed by the messages that the neglected condition of the Kausenai massacre demonstrates to all who visit it. It is shameful that the site is vandalised. I will await your kind responses before I consider my next steps on social media to alert the world about the sheer neglect of this holy shrine.
Dear Mr. Brendan Gorey,
The Kaušėnai Memorial of Holocaust victims in Plungė district commemorates the Plungė Jewish community destroyed in July of 1941.
Jakovas Bunka, a late honorary citizen of Plungė, who was a folk artist and a master of wood sculptures, together with his friends Lithuanian wood carvers created and built oak monuments at the Kaušėnai Memorial in 1986-1989. In 2011 the Memory Wall built of 1,800 bricks taken from the demolished Great Synagogue of Plungė was unveiled. A ceremony in commemoration and honour of the murdered Jews of Plungė takes place in July every year. The memorial is constantly supervised and maintained by the employees of Nausodis eldership of Plungė district, on the territory of which the memorial is located. The Plungė “Saulės” gymnasium in which the Tolerance Education Centre has been operating for many years also contributes to this.
The grass is cut at least 5-6 times a year during its vegetation period in this memorial site, twice (Monday and Friday) or three times a week the staff of the eldership arrives to empty the rubbish bins and collect the items left in the place and to perform other small work if necessary (e.g., two benches were repaired this year). There were meetings with Eugenijus Bunka, the executive director of the Jakov Bunka Charity and Sponsorship Fund, as well as Gennady Glikman, not for once for care of such places following the Jewish traditions. There were no complaints about non-maintenance of the memorial, on the contrary, we heard your compatriots‘ thoughts that Kaušėnai claimed to be in the top ten most sensitively meaningful Jewish mass graves in Europe.
Having received your opinion about the Kaušėnai Memorial, we contacted the staff who were responsible for the maintenance of the memorial as well as with the representatives of the Jakov Bunka Charity and Sponsorship Fund who in their turn spoke with the representatives of the family of Abel and Glenda Levitt using to visit Plungė and the Kaušėnai Memorial. We want to assure you that the Kaušėnai memorial is definitely not forgotten, on the contrary, it is frequently visited. For example, in August His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan to Lithuania Shiro Yamasaki and his wife Yuko together with their friends came to Plungė to get acquainted with the sightseeing places of the region. They were especially impressed by E. Bunka and his father‘s devotion to perpetuation of the memory of Plungė Jewish community.
We are aware of some problems arising at the mass burial sites in Plungė district and we do everything to prevent them.
Mayor Audrius KLIŠONIS