The Koniuchowsky Testimony Collection (Yad Vashem)
Leyb Koniuchowsky was born in Lithuania on 18 November 1910. An engineer by profession, he resided in Kaunas (Kovno). During the German occupation, he lived in the Kaunas Ghetto where he worked until his escape. He found shelter in a bunker at a farmer’s home where he remained until the liberation of Lithuania by the Red Army in 1944.
From 1944 to 1946, he traveled through the war-battered towns of Lithuania, collecting testimonies from the few Jews that had survived. The testimonies focused on the extermination of the Jews and the destruction of the local towns and villages. Koniuchowsky was meticulous about the accuracy and authenticity of the information in the testimonies and even had the witnesses sign their testimonies. The testimonies include the names of thousands of victims of the Holocaust, the names of their murderers, and those who had collaborated with the Nazis.
Koniuchowsky continued to collect testimonies from the She’erit Hapletah (the “surviving remnant” – a biblical term used to refer to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust) in the DP camps in Germany, where he lived for a few years. Yad Vashem received the Koniuchowsky Collection in 1989. The collection includes testimonies regarding 150 towns and villages in Lithuania and more than 30 towns in the Vilnius area.
The collection is of special significance because it includes information gathered immediately after the liberation from eyewitnesses. Furthermore, the testimonies document the destruction of small communities, in places where few Jews had lived before the war, and with almost no survivors.