95% of Lithuania's Jewish population was massacred during the holocaust, including my maternal grandmother. Because of a lucky series of events, my father was spared because he was not in Lithuania 1942 and on. During WWII my father served as a surgeon in the Soviet Red Army, following the front westward and eventually reaching Berlin, Germany. His unit liberated The Lodz Poland ghetto on January 18, 1945 and did the very difficult work of providing medical treatment to its survivors.
Tomorrow will be a somber day as our group of 26 descendants will visit the pits of Poner where 70,000 were murdered.
But we will also have dinner with some members of the active Jewish community who descend from the small number who survived and did not emigrate. There are about 5000 Jews among the 3 million inhabitants of present-day Lithuania. They say they are thriving and choose to stay. Dinner tonight included two of their leaders as our guests. They insist that Lithuania is in good times for Jews, without persecution or discrimination of any kind.
We presented a check for the benefit of the needy in the community which was part of the fee of the tour.