Monument to inmates of the Kailis and HKP forced labour camps
The monument that pays tribute to the inmates of the Kailis and HKP (Heereskraftfahrpark/Ost/562) forced labour camps and Jewish doctors from the Military Hospital in Vilnius who were killed in Paneriai on 2-3 July 1944 was erected in 1999 on the initiative and funding of Rachilė Margolis (1921–2015), former inmate of the Vilna Ghetto and member of the underground ghetto resistance organisation and long-standing employee of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Ms Margolis’s family – her father, mother and brother – were killed in Paneriai. Her father Samuel Margolis was a medical doctor and worked in the Military Hospital in Vilnius until the beginning of July 1944.
There is an inscription in Lithuanian, Hebrew and Yiddish on the monument: ‘REMAINS OF VILNA JEWS IMPRISONED BY NAZIS IN THE CAMPS OF THE KAILIS FACTORY, HKP AND MILITARY HOSPITAL, WHO WERE KILLED IN THIS PIT ON 5-7-1944’ [the shooting date referred to in the inscription is not precise -–editor’s note]. The inscription in Hebrew and Yiddish also includes the number of victims –1,000.
At the end of August/beginning of September 1943, before the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, there were several forced labour camps in Vilnius. One of them was at 37 Subačiaus str., where two six-storey buildings were home to several hundred Jewish professionals and their families, who worked in the HKP (Heereskraftfahrpark) military machinery workshop. The men worked as locksmiths, mechanics, tinsmiths, glaziers, and the women were employed in a sewing factory to repair Nazi uniforms.
In January 1944, 1,238 people were imprisoned in the HKP, including 213 children. Most of the children were killed on 27 March 1944, in the course of the children’s campaign. They were brought to Paneriai together with other people who were incapable of working. Karl Plagge, a Wehrmacht officer managed the repair workshop. On 1 July 1944, just before the liquidation of the camp, Plagge managed to warn the prisoners of the imminent dissolution of the forced labour camp. In this way, up to 200 Jewish prisoners of the HKP were rescued; however, about 500 were shot dead in Paneriai.
The Nazi Kailis forced labour camp operated in Vilnius from the early days of the Nazi occupation. The working camps of this camp were located in the premises of the Elektritas pre-war factory from 1941 (at present T. Ševčenkos str.). At the time, the factory employed about 500 workers, totalling 800-1,000 with the families. After the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto in September 1943, the survivors of the ghetto were illegally hiding in these camps.
In August 1943, 1,250 Jews from Vilnius were imprisoned in the Kailis camp, and forced to manufacture and repair winter clothing for the Wehrmacht. After the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, the residential blocks of the forced labour camp were home to around 600 people who lived there illegally. Workers of the above-mentioned forced labour camps escaped the great massacre carried out in the autumn of 1941. However, they were shot to death on 3 July 1944 in Paneriai. Between 2,000 and 5,000 Jews were shot.