You are here: Home Eastern Europe Lithuania PRIENAI: Prienai district, Kaunas [Pren, Preny, Prieni, Priyenay, Prienų, Prėinā, Prenay, Priena,]
PRIENAI: Prienai district, Kaunas [Pren, Preny, Prieni, Priyenay, Prienų, Prėinā, Prenay, Priena,] PDF Print E-mail

Alternate names: Prienai [Lith], Pren [Yid, Rus], Preny [Pol], Prenen [Ger], Prieni [Latv], Priyenay, Prienų, Prėinā, Prenay, Priena, פּרען-Yiddish. 54°38' N, 23°57' E, 24 miles E of Marijampolė, 18 miles S of Kaunas (Kovno). Situated on the Neman River, the 2001 population was 11,353. 1900 Jewish population: 1,100. Yizkor: Lite (vol. 1) (New York, 1951). ShtetLink. Pren, located in southern Lithuania on both sides of the river Neiman. First mentioned in 1502, Pren received Magdeburg rights in 1609. In 1623-1764, the Jewish community was subordinate to the Grodno "Va'ad Medinath Lita". In 1766, 597 Jews lived in the town. By 1766 about 1,000 people lived there.After Napoleon's defeat in Russia in 1815, Pren along with all of Lithuania was annexed by Russia. In 1868 a famous brewery was established. In 1827, 1,972 people lived in Pren with 1,479 Jews of 2,304 total in 1856. Pren suffered a pogrom by Polish youth on August 15, 1882. Germany occupied Pren during WWI . In April 1915, Russian military authorities expelled Pren Jews. Some settled in Vilna, but returned home after the German army occupied Pren to find their houses, synagogue, mikvah, and cemetery ruined. Thirty families needed support by welfare institutions. During the Republic of Lithuania (1918-1940), Pren was in Marijampole district with its population increasing and light industries and workshops established. 1923 Jewish population: 650 out of 3,260. In June 1941, the retreating Red Army blew up the concrete bridge over the Neiman, but the town itself was undamaged.From then until autumn 1944, Germany occupied Pren. Many young people left Pren and Suwalki area with the Russians. The Germans drove remaining Jews out of their homes in Suwalki area, robbed them, and sent them to the Lithuanian border. The Lithuanians did not allow them to enter Lithuania; and the Germans did not allow them to return. They stayed in a swampy area in cold and rain for several weeks until Jewish youths from border villages smuggled about 2,400 into Lithuania. [March 2009]


  • The Jewish cemetery of Pren was totally destroyed and at its site a monument was erected with an inscription reading: "Until 1941, Jews were buried here." [March 2009]
  • photos and gravestones: located next to the Catholic cemetery, in a Pine forest, the cemetery occupied about 3-4 hectare area. The territory was fenced. "When Jewish community disappeared after the Holocaust, the cemetery was neglected. After the Second World War, residents started to erode the stony fence; and they used it as material for building individual houses. So now there are only about 20-30 metres of fragments of the former fence. During the Soviet rule local government decided to eliminate the cemetery. Tombstones were taken away and blown up in 1953-54. The rubbles were used in road constructions. In 1987 in the territory of cemetery kindergarten was built. Some people protested against this decision, therefore, some remains were gathered and buried in the southern part of the plot. In 1987 Kaunas Jewish community built granitic memorial stone which marks the place of the former Prienai Jewish cemetery. Iniciators of the contemporary monument are Juozapas " Uzupis and Algimantas Matulevicius.[Aug 2015]


  • The German army entered Pren on June 24, 1941. Lithuanian nationalists immediately took over the rule of the town and summoned all Jewish intelligencia. All were shot by local high school students. Some, together with other detainees, were transferred to the jail in Mariampole, but others were shot on the spot. Restrictions against Jews were issued: no contact with non-Jews and wear a yellow patch on their back and chest, smoke was forbidden from Jewish chimneys. Humiliation, abuse and robbery was the rule. On August 14, 1941, Lithuanian auxiliary policemen ordered the Jews to the synagogue and transferred them to the former Soviet barracks. Armed Lithuanians dragged every Jew they found to the barracks where the Jews were kept in terrible conditions, without water, food, or sanitary facilities. Jews from Balbieriskis, Veiveriai, 89 from Jieznas, Stakliskes, and Varena and other small villages also were brought to the barracks. Diseases spread. On August 25, the Jewish men were forced to dig pits behind the barracks at the aninmal cemetery, one 20x4 meters and the other 10x4 meters. On August 26, large groups of hundreds of Jews from Pren and vicinity were led from the barracks to the pits. The first two groups, men only stripped to underwear, were led to the pits and after them mixed groups of men, women and children with the old and ill brought in carts. They were shot by machine guns next to the pits and covered with lime, many still alive. According to eye witnesses, corpses in the pits still moved hours after the murder. 1,078 Jews, men, women and children are buried in the mass grave in Pren on the shore of the Neiman River. [March 2009]
Last Updated on Saturday, 29 August 2015 12:45
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