Richard Schofield
April 24,2024

Private & Confidential

Pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish Photographs

DestroyedDisplaced │ Re(dis)covered │ Reclaimed


The somewhat unconventional practice of immortalising family members by attaching enamelled portraits of deceased loved ones to gravestones was allegedly pioneered by Roman Catholic communities in Italy and Latin America during the second half of the 19th century. Adopted by some Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and the Russian Empire during the early part of the 20th century, the custom appears to have been popular among the Lithuanian Jews, although years of vandalism and neglect have meant that the number of surviving photographs has dwindled to almost zero. Although dating from after the Second World War, one exception can be found in the Jewish cemetery in the Aleksotas district of Kaunas, where more than 200 portraits survive. In yet another case of contemporary indifference, this time by both the Lithuanian authorities that are responsible for looking after the cemetery and the local Jewish community, this extraordinary and singularly unique collection of photographs is slowly rotting away. 

The Aleksotas Macevot.pdf

Photos: Richard Schofield