Monument to soldiers of the Soviet Army
The memorial stone in memory of the Soviet prisoners of war killed in Paneriai was erected in 1996 on the initiative of Algis Karosas, the head of the Paneriai Memorial at that time. The memorial stone stands next to pits and trenches of various sizes. The inscription on the monument (in Lithuanian) says: ‘IN 1941 IN THIS TRENCH 7,514 RED ARMY SOLDIERS/PRISONERS OF WAR OF VARIOUS NATIONALITIES DIED OF DISEASE AND HUNGER’.
The actual number of victims killed in Paneriai remains unknown. Therefore, the number of victims on the monument is still debatable. The Soviet sources refer to some 5,000 prisoners of war who could have been killed here. In August 1944, the survivors of the Sonderkommando 1005A testified to the Special Soviet Commission about the mass graves in Paneriai. There is evidence that a group of Soviet army officers’ wives, who had not been able to retreat to the Soviet Union with their husbands in the summer of 1941, were shot dead in Paneriai for their underground resistance activities. They were held in the concentration sites in Vilnius in 1942-1943. Soviet anti-Nazi underground resistance fighters and messengers who were caught and brought to Paneriai from eastern Lithuania and western Belarus were among the victims.
The killings of Red Army prisoners of war of various nations are the second-largest Nazi crime by the number of victims in occupied Lithuania after the Holocaust. According to German historian Christoph Dieckmann, 168,000-172,000 prisoners of war were killed in Lithuania, the vast majority in Vilnius and Vilnius region, in 1941. The largest concentration camps of prisoners of war in this region were located in Naujoji Vilnia and Bezdonys.