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At Dachau, US Army Chaplain Sol Shapiro pays his respects at the grave of former leader of the Kovno Jewish community, Dr. Elkhanan Elkes.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 88645

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    At Dachau, US Army Chaplain Sol Shapiro pays his respects at the grave of former leader of the Kovno Jewish community, Dr. Elkhanan Elkes.
    At Dachau, US Army Chaplain Sol Shapiro pays his respects at the grave of former leader of the Kovno Jewish community, Dr. Elkhanan Elkes.

    Overview

    Caption
    At Dachau, US Army Chaplain Sol Shapiro pays his respects at the grave of former leader of the Kovno Jewish community, Dr. Elkhanan Elkes.
    Date
    Circa 1947 - 1948
    Locale
    Dachau, [Bavaria] Germany
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Unknown Provenance

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Unknown Provenance

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Dr. Elkhanan Elkes (1879-1944) was a Jewish physician who, during the German occupation of Lithuania, assumed the leadership of the Jewish community in the Kovno ghetto. Born in Kalvarija, Lithuania, Elkes received his medical degree in 1903 in neurology and internal medicine. In 1912 he married Miriam Malbin. They had two children: Joel and Sarah. After serving as a physician in the Russian army, he opened a private practice and eventually became one of Kovno's leading physicians. In 1923 he was apppointed head of the department of internal medicine at the Bikur Holim hospital in Kovno. His numerous private patients included the Lithuanian prime minister, the German ambassador, and other members of the diplomatic community. In August 1941 the SS ordered Kovno's leading Jewish citizens to select a leader to head the new Jewish Council. No one wanted to assume this role. Finally the community prevailed upon Elkes, citing his connections and moral integrity. He remained in this position for all three years of the ghetto's existence. Despite his own failing health, he provided moral leadership, helped the ghetto's medical community, and provided tacit support to the underground. Much of the day to day running of the ghetto was entrusted to his deputy, Leib Garfunkel, an attorney and former Jewish delegate to the Lithuanian parliament. Elkes acted principally as an intercessor with the German authorities to ameliorate the severity of their orders. In one famous anecdote, shortly before the ghetto's liquidation, Elkes made a personal appeal to SS Captain Wilhelm Goecke. Elkes promised to write Goecke a personal testimonial if he spared the ghetto; Goecke refused. Elkes was deported to Dachau in July 1944. There, he continued to offer medical care to fellow Jews until he succumbed to starvation brought on by a hunger strike. He died on October 17, 1944 at the age of 65. Due to his stature, he was allowed a public burial in a marked grave. Elkes was survived by his wife Miriam, who had been deported to Stutthof, and his two children Sarah and Joel, who were studying in England during the war.
    Record last modified:
    2011-12-28 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1096507

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