Kopcheve (Yiddish) Kopciowo (Polish) Koptsiovo (Russian)
Jews once lived in the shtetl and gmina (rural district) of Kopciowo, Suwalki gubernia now known as Kapciamiestis, Lithuania. This was a small community and many of its residents were related by marriage. They lived here from the late 18th century until 1941.
No Jews live in Kapciamiestis today. A few lucky ones emigrated before the start of WWII, a handful survived and most were murdered in the Katkiske Ghetto, Lazidai. Today, their descendents can be found throughout the world. We are 3 genealogy fanatics who met because of our interest in this small place. We dedicate this page to the memory of a community our ancestors loved and called home. Please join us in our effort to collect and make available as much information as we can.
Connie Buchanan, Carol Hoffman, Dorothy Leivers
Kopcheve as a Jewish shtetl was probably at its largest in the 1890s when the Jewish population of 528 represented 40% of the total (1,314) By 1923, that had dwindled to 187, 22% (835). In 1940, it is estimated there were approximately 45 families. (Pinkas Hakehilot). This was and remains a largely agrarian community. It is located in the south west of Lithuania, near the Polish and Belarus borders, 12 km from Veisiejie and 40 from Lazdijai. It is 26 km southeast of Sejny in Poland and 107 km south of Kaunus (Kovna). Latitude: 54deg 00′, Longitude: 23 deg 39′
This is a magnified segment taken from a 1909 map of the area.
Wednesday 25 June 2012 I rented a car in Vilnius and set off with Rashele [Ofchinskas] Sheraite to Kapciamiestis. The drive is about 2 ½ hours. I had made appointments in advance with the Elder, the school and the Priest. It needs to be stated here that I do not know Lithuanian. Although I had written to them in advance in English and a rough translation, it was Rashele who phoned them to verify and remind them about the appointments. Here we are on the main road entering Kapciamiestis.
The cemetery is well kept albeit the stones show the effect of the extreme weather conditions there. Moss has started to show on the existing stones, and some moss has grown over the broken stones. Nevertheless, there is no sign of weeds, rubbish or visible animal visitations.
Flowers adorn the main memorial stone, as does a large new glass memorial candle. I had come with Yizkor candles from Israel – the wind was fierce and it was quite a challenge to light them. Therefore I understood the large glass candle placed. I do not know who placed that new candle. General overall picture of the Kapciamiestis Jewish Cemetery June 2012.
A map of the Holocaust in Lithuania is found in Lietuvos istorijos atlasas. Vilnius: VAGA, 2001.