Vištytis

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Višta
Skyline of Višta
Coat of arms of Višta
Coat of arms
Višta is located in Lithuania
Višta
Višta
Location of Vištytis
Coordinates: 54°27′30″N 22°43′10″E / 54.45833°N 22.71944°E / 54.45833; 22.71944Coordinates: 54°27′30″N 22°43′10″E / 54.45833°N 22.71944°E / 54.45833; 22.71944
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Suvalkija
County Marijampolė County
Municipality Vilkaviškis district municipality
Elderate Vištytis elderate
First mentioned 1538
Granted city rights 1570
Population (2001)
 • Total 566
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Vištytis (Yiddish: ווישטינעץ, Vishtinets, Polish: Wisztyniec) is a town in southern Lithuania on Lake Vištytis, Marijampolė district. It is situated at the Russian border (Kaliningrad oblast) and is a capital of Vištytis elderate.

The town has preserved its street structure and market square since the 18th century. Vištytis Regional Park is near the town. Southwest are Vištytis hill fort, and in a nearby village Nebūtkiemis is big Vištytis stone, preserved geologic artifact.

History[edit]

Vištytis was established in the first half of the 16th century, on the border with the Duchy of Prussia. The first mention of the Višytis manor dates from 1538. Around it the manor town started to grow rapidly, and on September 8, 1570 Sigismund II Augustus granted Vištytis city rights and Coat of Arms. It was the first city in the region.

In 1776 Vištytis lost its city rights, although some administration remained in the city, as it is known from the records in 1785 and 1790. Town representatives participated in the Great Sejm and succeeded in regaining city rights, although it did not get a royal privilege. That caused conflict with local elders, and the case was taken to the court. The outcome of the court is not clear, but the town preserved some of autonomy in the 19th century.

In the 19th century, a major industry in Vištytis was the manufacture of brushes. After the railroad line from Königsberg, East Prussia, to Russia was constructed in 1861 through Kybartai, some kilometers to the north, the town declined rapidly. Beginning in the 1850s, a significant number of the town's Jews emigrated to Germany, the United States, and South Africa.

During the Holocaust all of Vištytis' Jews were murdered, mainly by local collaborators in the town. The exact number murdered is unclear; estimates range from 200 - 400 Jews (out of the town's general population of around 1000). First the men were shot, then the women - but, to save bullets, the Jewish children were killed by having their heads bashed against the trees in the town park.[1] A memorial to the victims was later erected by the Soviets near a windmill called Grist Mill, but the plaque made no mention that those buried in the nearby fields were Jews. Later, a 'Jewish' tombstone was erected that clearly noted what happened. Renewed City Coat of Arms were granted by the President of Lithuania on May 3, 1999.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yad Vashem, Pinkas Hakehillot, Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities from their foundation till after the Holocaust: Lithuania (1996) pp.260–262