* Labkovski created a body of work based on the testimony he heard from survivors of the Holocaust.
* The background information provides context for the collection of Holocaust artwork.
* Each painting has a link for more information about the specific historical context of the piece.
* Appropriate for ages 13 and up.
Begin by watching "Reading Labkovski's Narrative Art".
The Holocaust in Vilna
Background Information: Please note, the historical context may contain graphic images and content.
In the interwar period, Jews made up approximately 1/3 of the population of Vilna (now known as Vilnius, Lithuania).
In 1939, Hitler and Stalin formed a non-aggression treaty, the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact. In this agreement, the two leaders divided Poland between their two countries, Germany and the Soviet Union. The city of Vilna fell under the Soviet sphere. The city remained under Soviet control until the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June, 1941. The Nazi forces entered Vilna on June 24, 1941. Immediately following the invasion, the Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing squads, with local Lithuanian collaborators began mass killing of Jews at Ponar (Ponary), a forest outside of the city. By the end of 1941, approximately 40,000 Jews had been murdered by the Nazis and the local Lithuanian collaborators.
In September 1941, the Nazi administration in Vilna formed two ghettos, Ghetto 1 and Ghetto 2. Ghetto 1 was for those with work permits, while Ghetto 2 was for the elderly and ill. In October 1941, Ghetto 2 was liquidated, and the majority of the residents were murdered at Ponar. Some of the residents of Ghetto 2, those who the Nazis determined could be put to work, were taken to Ghetto 1.
Residents of Ghetto 1 were used as a source of slave labor. All the while, Jewish men, women and children were being taken from the Ghetto and shot. Ghetto 1 operated until 1943. When the Nazis liquidated Ghetto 1, older women and children were taken to Ponar and killed or deported to Sobibor, a killing site in Poland. Men and younger women were deported to labor camps in Estonia and Latvia.
Vilna was liberated by the Soviets in 1944. Approximately 95% of the city's Jewish community was murdered during the Nazi occupation.
The Soviet occupation continued until 1991 when Lithuania claimed her independence with Vilna, as her capital.
The links found in the background information are from the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, Israel.
The artwork in this section is appropriate for ages 13 and up. Select one piece to use for your response.