Choose your language


Centropa’s AudioWalks take you on a journey through the Jewish history of Central and Eastern Europe.

Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into Europe’s rich Jewish heritage, and to discover sites of Jewish life in towns in Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.

Building that housed the Vilna Ghetto Theater

Ghetto Theater

Element 340
Lėlių teatras, Arklių g. 5
  • 00:00

Vilnius was home to many cultural and artistic figures, and its famous theatrical tradition made its way to life in the Vilnius Ghetto. Two theaters were created in the ghetto by groups of imprisoned actors, musicians, and artistic performers. The local Judenrat supported the idea in an effort to spread some joy within the ghetto amid the suffering that was taking place. Though it was a controversial initiative, performances were attended by other ghetto inhabitants, the Judenrat, as well as local authorities. The performances, concerts, and lectures at these theaters became a vital part of the social world within this impoverished population and even established a music school with a children’s choir.

Maria Rolnikayte was part of this choir:

We sang in Hebrew and in Yiddish. The head of the chorus also created a symphonic orchestra. Very few musicians survived: They were considered to be the least useful and fascists killed them first. But nevertheless, the orchestra appeared and together with the choir, we prepared Beethoven’s Ninth symphony for performance.

The first, larger theater had its first performance in January 1942, and throughout the year, there were 120 performances and over 38,000 spectators. The theater was active up until the liquidation of the ghetto in September 1943.

Read more