Seda Jewish Cemetery
Seda (Shad in Yiddish) is a village in northern Lithuania on the border with Latvia, 16 miles from the district capital, Mazeikiai. Jews most likely began to settle in Seda in the seventeenth century. Decades later the Jewish community grew to be the largest in the region. In 1847, 1,729 Jews lived in Seda, and according to the all-Russian census of 1897, there were 1,384 Jews out of the total population of 2,015 (69%). Before WWII, there were 110 Jewish families in Seda. Jews made their living in trade, crafting, and small-scale agricultural activities. Jewish shops were located in two large buildings in the market square. Weekly market days on Mondays and Wednesdays and the three annual fairs provided trade opportunities. According to the government survey of 1931, there were 31 active businesses in Seda, 29 of them in Jewish hands (93%). Around 40 families maintained agricultural farms and residences covering an area of about 100 hectares in a village near the town. The neighbors called that place Zydu Dvaras, the “Jewish Farm”.
Many of Seda’s Jews belonged to the Zionist camp and took part in the elections for the Zionist congresses. The Jewish youth of Seda spoke very good Hebrew and belonged to Zionist organizations such as HaShomer HaTsair. Sports activities were organized by Maccabi and HaPoel which had 60 members.
On June 23rd 1941, the day after the German invasion into the Soviet Union, the first German soldiers entered Seda. Soon after, all the Jews were herded into the nearby “Jewish Farm” where they were kept without food and water for several days. On July 3rd 1941, armed Lithuanians took the men out, murdered them, and buried them at a site near the Jewish cemetery. The women and children were taken to the site of the Jewish cemetery in Mazeikiai on August 9th 1941, where they were murdered together with Jews from the surrounding towns.
The Jewish cemetery dates back to the end of the 17th century. It was almost destroyed during the Soviet period, in the 20th century. The locals used Jewish tombstones to build the foundations of houses and the Varduva dam. Later on, a person living near the cemetery dug a pond in the territory of the cemetery. In June-July 1941, the Jewish population of Seda was killed and buried on the northern outskirts of the old Jewish cemetery. Only a few gravestones or their fragments remain in the cemetery today. In 2001, the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Hebrew and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”.