Out of 70,000 Jews living in Vilna (Vilnius), only 7,000 would survive the war; the Jewish culture in Vilnius, one of the greatest in Europe, ceased to exist.
Jews constituted 30% of the total population of Vilnius before the Holocaust. Over 96% percent of the Jews living in Vilna were murdered during the Nazi occupation. No other Jewish community in Nazi-occupied Europe was so comprehensively destroyed. The majority of the city's Jews were shot by Einsatzgruppe A and their local Lithuanian collaborators at Ponary, a forested area just outside the city.
Ponary - The Vilna Killing Site
From the end of June 1941 to the end of December 1941, at least 48,000 people were murdered at Ponary, as described here. Abba Kovner wrote that on the night of August 31, 1941 alone "That night, 2,019 Jewish women, 864 men and 817 children were taken from Vilna in trucks to the pits at Ponary and murdered."
On 26 June 1941, the Nazis and units of their Einsatzgruppe A death squads entered Vilna. Over the course of the summer, German troops and Polish civilians killed more than 21,000 Jews living in Vilnius, in a mass extermination program. Many of those killed were murdered in the railway station of Ponary, a suburb of Vilna. During the Nazi occupation, a total of 100,000 people were murdered at Ponary, including 70,000 Jews, 20,000 Poles, and 8,000 Russians. Many of those killed in Ponary were from Shavli as well.
"I was brought to Lukiszki Prison...and bloodily beaten. All of us were taken out of our cells...loaded into...five or six big trucks. We were taken to a fenced in area called Ponar. We saw the prepared graves...there were hundreds and thousands there who had ended as we were to end. All the Jews were lined up. Men, women, and children were separated, and ordered to take off outer clothing. In front of the grave stood six Lithuanian soldiers with rifles. The victims were stood in rows of six. As soon as a row was arranged, a Lithuanian gave an order, there was a salvo, and six people fell into the grave. Another row of six were driven up, again shots, another falling of victims into the open grave. I know I fell to the ground and there was a heavy mass on me...of the murdered constantly falling into the big mass grave. It began to get dark. I crawled out of the grave. I was naked and covered in blood."
"A Living Message from Ponar"...the beginning of 1941: Herman Kruk's Diary
The Vilna Ghetto
"The Vilna Ghetto or Vilnius Ghetto was a Jewish ghetto established by Nazi Germany in the city of Vilnius in the occupied Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (now Vilnius, Lithuania), during the Holocaust in World War II. During roughly two years of its existence, starvation, disease, street executions, maltreatment and deportations to concentration camps and extermination camps reduced the population of the ghetto from an estimated 40,000 to zero."