Monument in memory of the Jagomasts
In 1996, on the initiative of the then head of the Paneriai Memorial exposition Algis Karosas, a commemoration stone was erected in memory of Enzis Jagomast, a public figure of Lithuania Minor, a bibliophile, book smuggler, publisher and owner of a printing house, and his family who were killed in Paneriai on 21–23 August 1941 by the Nazi security police. The monument commemorates the 55th anniversary of the death of the Jagomasts. It contains the following inscription: ‘IN MEMORY OF ENZIS JAGOMAST, A PUBLISHER OF LITHUANIA MINOR, AND HIS FAMILY WHO WERE KILLED IN PANERIAI ON 23-08-1941’. The monument was renovated in July 2001 (architect Julius Masalskas, sculptor Gintas Šuminas).
The monument was erected with the support of members of the Ethnographic Society, soldiers of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and others. For many years Rūta Hakaitė, a parishioner of Vilnius Evangelical Lutheran Church, took care of this symbolic tomb. Today, the members of the Vilnius Evangelical Reformed Society regularly maintain the environment of the monument.
At the beginning of 1933, after Hitler came to power in Germany, Nazism spread rapidly in the state administration and society. The Jagomast family, known in East Prussia for the defence of Lithuanian rights, was also persecuted by the Nazis. In 1935, during the trial of the Nazis Ernst Neumann and Theodor Zass in Klaipėda – they had tried to organise a military coup in Klaipėda region – the crowd broke the windows of the Jagomasts’ house in Tilsit and intended to destroy the nearby ‘Lituania’ printing house. In 1940, on the orders of the Tilsit Gestapo, the publication of the Lithuanian newspaper Naujasis Tilžės keleivis (the New Passenger of Tilsit) was banned, and the Jagomasts were exiled. On 30 October 1940, they came to live in Soviet-occupied Vilnius. After the Nazis occupied Lithuania, on 21 August 1941, Ona Jagomastaitė (1900–1941) and her husband Emilis Vilmantas-Mecklenburg were arrested and shot the next day in Paneriai. On 23 August 2 Enzis Jagomast and his wife Anna Martha (1870–1941), sons Dovas (1904–1941) and Jurgis (1917–1941) were also shot dead in Paneriai. Another Jagomast son, Emilis, lived in Germany at the time. His further fate is unknown.
Enzis Jagomast was born on 22 March 1870 in Lumpėnai (present Šilutė region). In 1884–1889, he studied printing at Otto von Mauderode’s printing house which published newspapers and books in Lithuanian. During the prohibition of the Lithuanian press (1865–1904), this printing house was the most significant book publishing house supplying publications for Lithuania Major. In 1896–1941, Enzis Jagomast owned a private printing house in Tilsit, which he named ‘Lituania’ in 1912. Among other books, this printing house published the newspapers Aušra (the Dawn, 1897–1899) and Naujasis Tilžės keleivis (the New Passenger of Tilsit, 1924–1940). Being an active public figure, Enzis Jagomast was a member of numerous Lithuanian societies, including the Lithuanian Chanting Society of Tilsit, an important centre of Lithuanian culture at the time, which had a significant influence on maintaining the Lithuanian national identity. The Jagomasts’ house in Tilsit became the home for nationally conscious Lithuanians.
The Jagomastas family: father Enzys, mother Morta Jurgelaitytė Jagomastienė and their son Jurgis, c. 1930. Kaunas D. Donelaičio žemės knygiai. – Vilnius, 1993.
Ona Jagomastaitė and Emilis Mecklenburg
Inspired by her father, the eldest daughter of Enzis Jagomast Ona Jagomastaitė (1900–1941), became an influential figure in the society of Lithuania Minor. From 1920, she worked in her father’s printing house and became his assistant and the editor of Naujasis Tilžės keleivis (the New Passenger of Tilsit). As the editor, Ona Jagomastaitė featured many political articles that were unacceptable to the prevailing Nazi regime in 1933. In 1936, Ona Jagomastaitė was banned from editing the newspaper and had to work secretly. There is an interesting story about Ona and Emilis Mecklenburg. While working in her father’s printing house, Ona Jagomastaitė met Emilis Mecklenburg, an employee of the municipality of Tilsit. His mother was Lithuanian (her maiden name was Vilmantaitė). Despite the negative attitude of the Nazi administration and repeated warnings, Mecklenburg married Ona and was consequently dismissed from office. After becoming Emilis Vilmantas-Mecklenburg, Ona’s husband became a member of the Jagomast family and joined his father-in-law’s printing house, and shared the destiny of the family.
The Jagomastas family visiting the Juodkazys family home in Pagėgiai (1938). Second from left: D. Jagomastas, third: O. Jagomastaitė-Vilmantienė, fourth: E. Jagomastas. Standing E. V. Mecklenburgas.
Dovas Jagomast (1904–1941) also participated in the social activities of Lithuania Minor and wrote articles for Naujasis Tilžės keleivis (the New Passenger of Tilsit). From 1937 he officially headed the ‘Lituania’ printing house and after his forced exile to Soviet-occupied Lithuania in 1940, he became a German language lecturer at Vilnius Folk University.
Dovas Jagomastas. Library of Kaunas University of Technology.
After graduating from Tilsit High School, the youngest son Jurgis Jagomast (1917–1941) studied humanities at Vytautas Magnus University. In 1940¬1941, he worked at Vilnius University Library.
Jurgis Jagomastas in the courtyard of Kaunas War Museum (1938).
Very little is known about the life of the middle son, Emilis Jagomast (b. 1910). He is known to have settled in Dresden after leaving his parents’ home in Tilsit. His further fate is unknown.