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PLUNGE (Lith. Plungè; Rus. Plungyany), city in W. Lithuania. The 15th-century tombstones in the Jewish cemetery indicate that there was a Jewish settlement in Plunge at that time. In 1847 there were 2,197 Jews living there; 2,502 (55% of the population) are recorded in 1897. Most Jews engaged in commerce with eastern Prussia and the surrounding villages as well as in crafts and agriculture. During the period of Lithuanian independence, Jewish commercial enterprises were repressed and a period of intensified emigration followed. The number of Jewish residents in Plunge decreased to 1,815 (44% of the population) in 1933 and 1,700 in 1939. There were six synagogues and a yeshivah with 50 pupils in the town, as well as a *Tarbut and Yiddish school, a Hebrew secondary school, two libraries, and a Jewish bank. Political and communal organizations of every kind and relief institutions were also active. For a time, the office of mayor was held by a member of the Jewish community. When the Germans entered Plunge on June 25, 1941, they murdered a number of Jewish youths who had participated in its defense. A few weeks later they massacred all the remaining Jews.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.