Series - Pasvitinys Photograph Series

Pasvitinys Lithuania, "Portrait of Hirsh Blecher" Pasvitinys Lithuania, "Hirsh Blecher with some family" Pasvitinys Lithuania, "Joe Blecher visiting Yisrael Pinchas Blecher's gravesite" Pasvitinys Lithuania, "A Jewish cemetry in Pasvitinys"

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Pasvitinys Photograph Series

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The Pašvitinys (English spelling: Pasvitinys) Photograph Series includes various combinations of the Blecher family members, with Hirsh being the head of this family. One photograph is of Hirsh alone, another with his wife and their son and grandchildren, and two of Yosef Blecher (Hirsh's grandson) visiting his father's grave (Yisrael Blecher, Hirsh's son).

The chaotic pattern in Eastern Europe and nearby regions in the first half of the 20th century – mostly as a result of the two World Wars – consisted of sporadic occupation, independence, and reoccupation of territories. Jewish people were not treated kindly in Pasvitinys, despite relatively civil relations pre-1900. After a blood libel broke out into a pogrom against Jews in 1900, the Jewish people of this town and those around it were treated with suspicion and hostility by their Christian neighbours. At the outbreak of World War I, the Russian military exiled all Jewish people from the town into Russia, similarly to what occurred in other shtetlach, and once again in a similar fashion, only about half of the pre-WWI Jewish population returned to their home shtetl post-WWI. During independent Lithuania in the interwar years, Zionism thrived year as it had for years, with active Zionist members in all circles of Jewish life until around 1925. This is when the population of the town began to dwindle, with the 1930s seeing the largest mass immigration of Jewish people from Pasvitinys to South Africa mostly, and also to America and Israel. This exodus was encouraged following increased hostility towards Jews as the economy in pre-WWII Lithuania reached crisis point and Jewish-run businesses were boycott. When the Soviet Union annexed Lithuania in 1940, the remaining Jewish people had their property nationalized and Zionist organizations were banned. When WWII broke out between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the rapid advance of Nazis meant that Pasvitinys was easily occupied, and Lithuanian nationalists supported their cause, assisting with mistreatment and violence against Jewish people. This ended with a Yom Kippur massacre in October 1941, which also included Zhager Jews. [Source:]
The town of Pašvitinys (English spelling: Pasvitinys) is named as such in Lithuanian, as Poshvityn in Russian, as Poszwityń in Polish, and as Pashvitin in Yiddish.

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Donated by The South African Jewish Board of Deputies Archive


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Unless otherwise stated the copyright of all material on the Jewish Digital Archive Project resides with the South African Jewish Museum.

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