PALANGA (Ger. Polangen), resort town on the Baltic Sea in Lithuania. Jews were granted privileges of town dwellers in Palanga by the Polish king Sigismund III (1587–1632), and were permitted to own land and to engage in crafts and commerce. These privileges were confirmed by subsequent rulers in 1639 and 1742. There were 398 Jews living in Palanga and the vicinity in 1765. At the beginning of the 1820s, Palanga was included in the Russian province of *Courland. The community numbered 729 in 1850, 925 in 1897 (43% of the total population), 455 in 1923, and approximately 700 in 1939. The production of decorative objects and jewelry made from amber found on the seashore, for which Palanga is famous, was formerly a Jewish industry. Many Jews also earned their livelihood by providing various services for summer vacationers. Between the world wars Jews were active in local government, serving on the city council as mayor or deputy mayor. The deteoriating economy resulting from antisemitism caused many to immigrate to South Africa, the United States, and Palestine. Soon after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war on June 22, 1941, Palanga was occupied by the Germans and all the Jews were concentrated at the bus station. The males aged 13 and above were taken outside the town and murdered in pits they were forced to dig. The women and children were held for a month in the synagogue, and then executed.
Mark, in: Lite, 1 (1951), 1454–74; YahadutLita, 1 (1959), 45, 54; Gar, in: Algemeine Entsiklopedie, 6 (1963), 366, 367, 374. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Dov Levin (ed.), Pinkas ha-Kehilot – Lithuania (1996).
[Joseph Gar /
Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.