20th Century Wylkowiszki

When the Kazlova Ruda-Mariampol-Kalvarian railroad was built, Wylkowiszki started to decline as Mariampol became the center of trade for the Suwalki Region. (1)  In 1904 the repeal of the press ban led to the formation of cultural societies. (2)

The end of World War I brought independence to Lithuania in 1918, and the population of Wylkowiszki began to increase again. Industrial centers “produced agricultural machinery, metal tools, cement products, natural bristle brushes, soap, vegetable oil, candy, men’s and women’s clothing and flax thread. There were also five mills, two sawmills, two printing presses, three hospitals, [and] two high schools.” (3)

When Russian soldiers occupied Lithuania during the summer of 1944, only ten percent of the houses were left intact. (4) The city has been rebuilt since 1945 and has a fruit and vegetable cannery, a tuberculosis dispensary, a clinic, a high school, an agricultural school, and large factories which manufacture clothing, metal tools, carpentry items, and fruit drinks. (5) Today, Wylkowiszki is the second largest city in southern Lithuania. The city measures 748 hectares, 63 streets, whose lengths reach 40 kilometers. (6)

Population Growth (7)

The following information shows the growth of Wylkowiszki:

1827 (2,889) general population
1857 5,503 general population; 82.8 % were Jewish
1897 5,800 (5,788) general population;  60% or 3,480 were Jewish
Pre World War I 850 Jewish families
1921 3,206 were Jewish
1923 7,263 general population
1939 8,020 (8,733)  general population 45% or 3,609 were Jewish
1959 5,072 general population
1970 8,452 general population
1974 9,300 general population
Note: Numbers are from the Encyclopedia Lituanica (Lithuanian Encyclopedia). Numbers in parentheses are from the Slavic dictionary and vary slightly.

Religious Variety

Jews from Prussia settled in Wylkowiszki in the 16th century, one of the earliest Jewish settlements in Lithuania. In the 19th century most of the people in Wylkowiszki were Jewish. They worked in trade, crafts, agriculture, and industry. (8) They purchased their raw materials from Russia to export wood, produce, and other agricultural products to Germany. (9) In short, Wylkowiszki was “well-known in Lithuania as a city that combined Torah and enlightenment.” (10) Two synagogues have been used in the 20th century. (11)

Many buildings did not fair very well under Soviet rule. A cathedral was damaged in 1944 and was turned into a city park as the Soviet government did not permit it to be rebuilt.(12) The government workers were Russians. (13)

Because of the small number of ethnic Germans in the area, who tended to belong to the evangelical church, one Lutheran church remained after World War I. (14) By 1945 the Germans that were left had all been driven out of Lithuania by the advancing Russian Army or deported after the war. Today there are very few, if any, Germans in Wylkowiszki.(15)

Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 345.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 132.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 132.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 131.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 131.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 131.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 131-132. Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 344-345.
Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 345.
Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 346.
Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 347.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 131.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 132.
Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 345.
Janulaitis, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 132.
Gordon, McLachlan, Lithuania: The Bradt Travel Guide (Old Saybrook, Connecticut: Bradt Publications 1995), 28.

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About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
This entry was posted in Books, history, Suwalki Province, Uncategorized, Villages and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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