A team of tourism professionals from Kaunas travelled to Tel Aviv in the beginning of February to represent our city in IMTM 2017, the 23rd Annual International Tourism Exhibition. Hot off the press, a new #Kaunastic map called ‘The Litvak Landscape’ travelled with the team and was very well received by the attendees of the exhibition.
‘The Litvak Landscape is, to start with, a map mixing different chapters and layers of the history of Kaunas. It connects people and their ideas, buildings and their residents, Litvaks and Lithuanians, the past and the present – and it’s also inviting to collaborate in the future’, says the introductory text in the map.
An incredible amount of information, names, professions, deeds, dates and events, scattered around in books, archives, newspapers and webpages, were discovered when compiling the list of the stops in the route – and the process was heart-breaking, to say the least, at times. It wasn’t possible to include everything that is out there, but the preparation definitely laid ground for a bigger project sometime in the future.
Approximately 37 thousand Jews lived in Kaunas in 1933 – that’s almost 30% of the population. In the interwar period, there were about 40 synagogues and prayer houses, as well as a great number schools, in the city. The community was deeply involved in the cultural, political and social life of Kaunas. Jewish people were merchants, real estate contractors, doctors, engineers, factory owners, craftsmen, shoemakers, tailors, musicians, painters… Anything you can name, really. A huge number of buildings included in today’s list of cultural heritage were either designed, constructed, contracted, owned, or lived by the members of the community. The first private art gallery, the first recordings of Lithuanian music, the first Olympian of Lithuania or the best sports arena in Europe and many other achievements – none of this would have been possible without the people we have included in the Litvak Landscape.
Emma Goldman, Hermann and Oskar Minkowski, Emmanuel Levinas, Chiune Sugihara and Arbit Blatas are among the names listed in the map. ‘Sugihara, who also made it to the cover of the map, was recognized by a huge amount of people; some of them told us stories about him saving their relatives during the Holocaust’, said Inga Pažereckaitė-Kalėdienė, head of tourism department of Kaunas IN agency, right after her trip to IMTM 2017. She also mentioned many of those skimming through the map expressed their wish to visit Lithuania and Kaunas.
The English-language map is available free of charge in the tourism information centres of Kaunas. There are plans to translate it to Hebrew and Russian and to digitalise the route. You're welcome to download the PDF version of the map here.