Finding Papa Dave – Vilnius, Lithuania

May 24, 2014

Villnius was known as Vilna and was part of Poland from 1921 to 1939. From the 1790s until 1915 it was part of the Russian Empire. Papa Dave would have lived under both rules.

On our second day, we rented a car and headed out in search of “Olkinecky”. Allan remembered stories that his father told about living in a village that lay on the edge of the forest. We now believe that the forest was the Rudnicki Forest. His great grandfather or great – great grandfather was “sheriff” of the forest.

After several hours and many wrong turns, we found the village of Koniuchy, now Kaniūkai, Lithuania. The upside to being lost and not speaking the language, was getting to know the people. They were very nice and always willing to help. In fact, someone actually led us to the turnoff that we had missed several times.

We really did not have any expectations. There is not much left. In 1944, probably on January 29th, the Polish village of Koniuchy, was completely destroyed in a massacre carried out by partisans from the Lithuanian Brigade, a group of Jewish soldiers of the Red Army, under the command of Jacob Penner and Shmuel Kaplinsky.

A monument commemorating the event was erected in Kaniūkai in May 2004. The names of the 34 victims were inscribed.

It was an overwhelming experience. Even if this small village was not the exact village where Papa Dave was born and raised, Allan said he had breathed the air his father breathed and had seen what his father had seen.

Click on a photo to start the slide show.


  1. Thank you so much for posting these photos. I may have the opportunity to visit Vilnius in a few weeks. My grandmother was from Vilnius, and it is very likely that the Bandalewicz family listed on the memorial may be distant cousins.

    Can you tell me the route you took to find the memorial? I’ve followed Google street view down the main street, but I do not see any markers for the memorial:,+Lithuania/@54.2767947,25.2524706,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x46ddd8f8e1169543:0x80b99d7db9dff5c!8m2!3d54.278677!4d25.24606

    1. Hi,

      It was a remarkable trip. I have included a link to a map. We found this after the fact. We had very little information and just headed out after talking to our concierge. We spent a lot of time finding our way. We were finally able to communicate with a local and he directed us to the village. However, if memory serves, the monument is not in the village. We stumbled upon the monument by accident. my grandson will probably have better recollection.

      Please let me know if you are able to visit.

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