Mass killing pit
According to the data of the Special Soviet Commission that examined the area of mass killings in the summer of 1944, up to 25,000 victims could have been killed in this pit, which is 35 metres in diameter and more than 5-metres deep (capacity of about 8,000 m³).
According to the testimony of Abraham Blazer, a member of the Nazi-formed ‘burning brigade’ (Sonderkommando 1005A), the shooting victims from the retirement home and orphanage of the Vilna Ghetto were buried in this pit, as well as patients and doctors of the Ghetto hospital. There were also Soviet prisoners of war with military uniforms in the pit. According to Mr Blazer, the pit was filled with several layers of shooting victims: the bottom layer contained the victims shot in 1941, and the latest victims were from the massacre of 1943. Several layers of the remains of prisoners of war were found.
In the course of implementing the project on the architectural arrangement of the territory of the Paneriai Memorial, a commemoration stone was erected near this pit in 1985 with the inscription (in Lithuanian and Russian): ‘Corpses exhumed from mass killings sites were burned here’. The inscription is not entirely accurate, because exhumed remains of victims were not burned in the pits but taken from the pits to bonfires which were up to 4-5 m. high. The victims’ ashes were then spread back into the pit or mixed with sand near the pit. Five bonfires were found near this pit.
The pit embankments were severely damaged, probably in 1944. The relief features around the pit were destroyed in 1985 when implementing the architectural rearrangement project of the Paneriai Memorial. Only the fragment of the western embankment survived.