Residents and guests of Vilnius may notice the copper-plated ‘Memorial plaques’ embedded in the pavement of the old Town of Vilnius to commemorate the memory of the eight honourable residents of the city who fell victim to the Holocaust.
It was not accidentally that the memorial plaques were arranged at Rūdninkų, Vokiečių, Vilniaus, Islandijos, Vasario 16-osios Streets – as this was the place of residence or work for some outstanding and meritorious personalities, such as famous doctors, the chronicler of Vilnius ghetto, the founders of the first vegetarian restaurant in Vilnius, etc.
The ‘Memorial plaques’ (stolpersteine) project was presented at Rūdninkų St. 8, the premises of the former Jewish Real-gymnasium, once attended by the talented Yitzchak Rudashevski who has left for future generations a dairy of the at the ghetto conveyed through the eyes of a maturing teenager. The copper-plated slab in the cobbled pavement of Rūdninkų St. will be a witness to the history of Vilnius and the people who lived here.
Another two memorial plaques are to be found at Vokiečių St. 14, where a Jewish family of Fania Lewando and her husband Laza opened most probably the first vegetarian restaurant in Vilnius. Fania was not only an excellent chef, but also a teacher; at her proprietary culinary school she was teaching local women to cook vegetary foods, and collected and described the recipes in her ‘Vegetarian-Dietetic Cookbook: 400 Meals Made Exclusively from Vegetables’ published In 1938’.
A ‘Memorial plaque’ at Vilniaus St. 33/Islandijos St. 2 perpetuates the memory of a physician Dr. Samuel Margolis who lived there and was running a clinic for patients. An very close to it – just at Vilniaus St. 31 / Islandijos St.1 – there is a plaque to commemorate Dr. Yakov Vygodsky who in 1918–1919 was holding a position of the Minister for Jewish Affairs without portfolio. Another three ‘Memorial plaques’ can be visited at Vasario 16-osios St. 8/Šermukšnių St. 1 – to commemorate the Šemiavičiai family of Lejba, Chaja and Leja who all were murdered during the Jewish Holocaust.
That is an international project and Lithuania was the first of the Baltic states to join it. The ‘Memorial plaques’ are scattered in 18 European states, at more than 53,000 locations. The eight commemorative plaques (stolpersteine) were installed in Vilnius by Gunter Demnig himself – the famous German architect and artist who first came up with the idea.