The visit to the memorial in Paneriai on 4 March was the most difficult part of the trip through Lithuania. Paneriai is a suburb of Vilnius with extensive forests. The German occupiers turned it into a murder site. More than 100,000 people were killed there – mainly Jews, many of them from Vilnius ghetto, but also Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, Roma and Lithuanians.
3 March, the last day of the road trip through Lithuania. Yuliya and I made our way back to Vilnius. Finally, a grey sky and no more sunshine. Maybe the clouds will protect my friends in Ukraine from the Russian bombings, I thought. Probably that’s nonsense. But I couldn’t fight this thought. Our route today was not as long as in the last few days. Synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Vabalninkas, Kupiškis, Anykščiai, Kurkliai, Alanta and Moletai were on our way.
2 March, day 4 of the journey through Lithuania, day 7 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Yuliya and I continued our journey. We headed northwest, close to the border with Latvia. On our route were Jewish memorial sites in Krekenava, Pušalotas, Pumpėnai and, of course, Panevėžys and Biržai.
1st of March, day 3 of our journey through Lithuania, day 6 of the Russian war against Ukraine. Yuliya and I kept looking at our smartphones, checking news sites, trying to keep in touch with our friends in Ukraine. The day started with a long walk through Jewish Kaunas. Then we drove on to Panevėžys via Jonava, Ukmergė, Šėta and Kėdainiai.
On the morning of 28 February, my friend Yuliya and I set off early. Synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Moluvėnai, Vievis, Žasliai, Kaišiadorys and Žiežmariai were on our way until we reached Kaunas in the evening, the second largest city in Lithuania and the first capital after independence in 1918.
From 26 February to 5 March, I was travelling in Lithuania with my friend Yuliya. Yuliya, who comes from Belarus, lives in Vilnius in exile. On 24 February, Russia attacked Ukraine. Although I did what I always do on such trips – photograph the traces of Jewish life – we found it difficult to focus on our subject. Nonstop, we followed the news, tried to distinguish what was credible and what was not, and tried to stay in touch with our friends in Ukraine and Belarus. Nevertheless, I would like to share this journey with you. On 27 February, we walked through Vilnius.