Richard Schofield
April 24,2024

Private & Confidential

Pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish Photographs

DestroyedDisplaced │ Re(dis)covered │ Reclaimed


Nijolė Kučinskaitė was born to Lithuanian parents on August 2, 1943 in a large wooden house in Kaunas that had, according to family legend, been previously inhabited by an unknown Lithuanian Jewish family that had been forced out of their property and into the Kovno Ghetto two years earlier. Whilst clearing out her attic when she was in her early 70s, Nijolė, who spent her entire life living in the same house, discovered 43 original black and white photographs, of which several featured samples of handwriting in what she recognised as being ‘the Jewish language’. By all accounts a conscientious woman who instinctively understood that the photographs might be important to someone, Nijolė decided to hold on to the photographs until she passed away after a short and unexpected illness in 2020. At around the same time, Nijolė’s niece, Sigita Židonienė, contacted me, asking if I’d like to have the photographs, to which I said yes. With the help of a small group of friends and acquaintances in Israel, Lithuania and Switzerland, I was subsequently able to discover the identity of the family that originally owned the photographs, and that clearly didn’t survive the Holocaust. I’m still trying to locate any surviving relatives so that I can return the photographs to their rightful heirs. The questions that remain unanswered that I find the most interesting are, were the photographs deliberately hidden in the attic when the Kassels learned of their fate, and how many more photographs such as these ones lie abandoned and undiscovered in other similar locations throughout the country? Complete with some interesting captions, the complete collection of photographs can be seen here.

Bad Brückenau, Germany. 1921.

© The Data Brigade