My maternal grandfather (you can see him on this post about my mother) came from a town in Lithuania called Mariampole (now spelled Marijampole). He left as a teen and came to America, to New York. As a young man he was sent to Russia as an American salesman; there he met my grandmother and married her. This postcard was sent from Mariampole in the 1928; it seems he had the opportunity to visit relatives.
He writes to his mother in New York:
My dear mother, I am writing to you on the train on my way back from Mariampole to Kovno(?). I saw Aunt Lydia and her family and they are all well. Will leave Kovno this afternoon and will be in Paris on Saturday. Will write from there. Trusting that you are well and hoping to see you shortly. Love to all. With love from Sol.
Unfortunately this story has a tragic ending. Soon after the Nazis came to Lithuania in 1939, the Jewish community in Lithuania was destroyed.
Masha Greenbaum writes in The Jews of Lithuania:
For centuries Jews had lived peacefully in Lithuania and considered it their homeland. They enjoyed its beautiful scenery, its mountains and forests, rivers and lakes. Lithuanian Jews, together with Lithuanian non-Jews, respectfully sang the anthem of the newly created independent state that was established after World War I…As early as the mid-1930s, however, Jews were given sufficient reason to understand that they had no future in Lithuania…General Lithuanian public opinion responded favorably to the rise to power of Hitler, and many Lithuanian nationalist parties lauded the National Socialism and official anti-Jewish policies of neighboring Germany. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Lithuania clearly cast its sympathies with the former; after the Soviet occupation, Lithuanians fervently hoped for a German victory that would liberate them from the hated Communists.
Lithuanian Jewry was trapped between the warring powers, each of which had its own specific anti-Jewish policy and agenda. However, whereas the Soviets systematically destroyed Jewish religious and national institutions and forced Lithuanian Jews to adapt to a new economic order, the Germans committed unspeakable atrocities, causing endless pain and suffering to innocent men, women, and children, and systematically murdered all but 6,000-8,000 of Lithuania’s Jews. Countless Lithuanians played an all too willing part in this orgy of savagery.
My mother once told me that after the war, they never heard from those Mariampole relatives again.
More on Mariampole and its Jews:
A good site for Jewish genealogical research: The JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database (thank you, Gail).