KANIŪKAI CROSS 

Kaniūkai village, located on the south-eastern outskirts of Rūdninkų forest near the present Lithuanian-Belarus border, next to the Šalčia river. In years 1920-1939 Kaniūkai belonged to the Polish controlled Vilnius region, Lida county, Benekainių parish. In 1943 in the village was founded a local self-defence unit. The self-defence unit was fighting against Soviet partisans, defended the kidnapped harvest, livestock and other property and did not obey the requirement to disarm. Unable to control the situation in south-eastern Lithuania and to suppress the self-defence unit  armed resistance, Soviet partisans did a horrific demonstration of a “punishment” campaign. During the night of January 29, 1944, a  Soviet partisan team, made up mostly of former Kaunas ghetto prisoners Jews and Soviet prisoners of war, led by Yakov Prenner, attacked the Kaniūkai village and burned its inhabitants. Over 100 people were killed. The  killings were supposed to serve as a “punishment” for self-defence organization. A cross was built and erected to honour the murdered residents.

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