Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. January 27, 2020, memorializes the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp where one million Jews were murdered. Less well known, in the Baltics and other Eastern European countries, is that about 2 million Jews were shot in open air massacres. Most victims were killed before the establishment of the Nazi industrial extermination camps, and most of these slaughters occurred in small Jewish villages or shtetls that few of us have heard of and many of which no longer exist.
Yiddish speaking Shadova (modern day Šeduva) was a shtetl in northern Lithuania. In 1880, the Jewish population was 2386, almost two thirds of the entire population of Šeduva. The German army captured Šeduva on June 25th, three days after invading Lithuania. Nazis and local Lithuanian nationalist collaborators briefly enslaved the Jewish population, but by August the killing had begun.
On August 25th, Einsatzgruppen 3, a Nazi mobile killing squad, documented the murder of the last of the Jewish population of Šeduva, including 230 men, 275 women, and 159 children. As geophysicists, we are neither historians nor forensic anthropologists nor lawyers, and as such we do not present a voice for the dead. But sometimes our work is so exact that we can be the eyes for historians, allowing them to see that which cannot be seen.
As part of our Geoscientists Without Borders (a foundation of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists) project in 2019, Dr. Harry Jol and his University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students continued from earlier work at the site of the former red brick Synagogue of Šeduva. Great job Harry! Today the site is an empty lot in the central market area. Dr. Jon Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority provided the interpretation of the floor plan (from Searching for the Lost Synagogues of Šeduva, Jon Seligman). Jon maintains an excellent website concerning Shadova-Šeduva (http://www.seligman.org.il/seduva_holocaust.html).