Panevėžys

 

Panevėžys is a large city in northern Lithuania with 124,412 inhabitants, around 130 kilometers from the two capitals Riga (Latvia) and Vilnius (Lithuania). Panevėžys is the capital of the Panevėžys district of the same name, an administrative district in northeastern Lithuania, which is part of the historical landscape of Upper Lithuania. It has the status of a township, so it has an elected mayor and city council. It is surrounded by the Panevėžys Rajonggemeinde, of which it is the administrative seat. As the fifth largest city in the country, Panevėžys is the smallest large city in Lithuania. The name Panevėžys means "located on the bank of the Nevėžis River".

 

History

On September 7, 1503, Panevėžys was first mentioned in a letter from Grand Duke Alexander of Lithuania to the Bishop of Ramgyla. With this letter, the Grand Duke made the clergyman the owner of the lands around the Panevėžys estate, located between the Nevėžis and Lėvuo rivers. The condition for this was the erection of a church, whereby this wooden church has meanwhile been destroyed. For the 500th birthday of Panevėžys in 2003, a monument to Grand Duke Alexander was erected. Groups of Poles and Karaites settled the area as early as the 14th century.

Not far from the Panevėžys manor, the Mikolajevas settlement was founded in the 16th century, and Naujasis (New) Panevėžys was established on the other side of the river. In the 19th century these three places were united to form the town of Panevėžys. In 1813 Panevėžys were granted city rights. By the middle of the 19th century, almost all of the town's buildings were constructed of wood, although these buildings were destroyed in the First World War when almost the entire town burned down. In the age of increasing industrialization, Panevėžys also gained importance as a banking and trading center. In 1927 the city also became the seat of the Panevėžys diocese.

On June 15, 1940, Russian military took control of the city in the course of the forced integration of Lithuania into the Soviet Union. During the Russian occupation, a large number of political prisoners were murdered in the vicinity of the sugar factory, and an even greater number of citizens were either deported to Siberia or persecuted in some other way.

After the German attack on the Soviet Union, Panevėžys was occupied by German troops, as was the case in World War I, and became a regional commissioner within the Reich Commissioner for Ostland. During the time of occupation by German troops, the city's Jewish population was almost completely murdered: more than 10,000 people were already in July and August 1941. The "Einsatzkommando 3" under the leadership of Karl Jäger (Einsatzgruppe A) fell victim to 1312 Jewish men, 4602 women and 1609 children on August 23, 1941 alone. When the German troops withdrew, the city was also badly damaged. After the end of the war, the Soviet leadership focused on the increasing industrialization of the city. Many large companies were founded in the 1960s and 1980s in particular. Thanks to its convenient location and the construction of the railway, Panevėžys developed more and more into an industrial center. Due to the increasing demand for housing among workers, many prefabricated buildings were built, especially in the 1960s.