Green House - History and Facts | History Hit

Green House

Vilnius, Vilnius County, Lithuania

The Green House looks at life and history of Lithuania’s Jewish community and the devastating effects of the Holocaust.

Peta Stamper

25 May 2021

About Green House

The Holocaust exhibition, which is also called ‘Green House’, is located near the centre of Vilnius at Pamenkalnio Street, and is one branch of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.

The 7 rooms of the museum tell the story of the once flourishing Jewish community in Lithuania (known as the ‘Litvak’ community) from the times of the grand duchy of Lithuania, until their persecution and extermination in the 20th century.

Renovated in 2010, the entire exhibition is in English and Lithuanian and includes many new documents, new exhibits and audio-visual material such as testimonies.

Green House history

In June 1941, the Nazi German army invaded Lithuania, home to around 240,000 Jews. The Nazis established ghettos in the largest cities – Vilnius, Kaunas and Šiauliai – gradually letting the populations inside die.

In 1944, the Germans withdrew from Lithuania and took with them the remaining Jewish population to concentration camps in Germany, Estonia and Poland. Few Lithuanian Jews remained, hiding with help from their neighbours. At the end of the war there were only 10,000 Jews in Lithuania.

The Vilna Gaon Museum was established in 1989 by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, and gained its name in 1997 during the commemoration of 200 years since the death of Talmudic scholar, Vilna Gaon. The museum was divided into 5 branches that focus on different parts of Jewish history and culture.

The Tolerance Centre displays a collection of modern and traditional art; the Paneriai Memorial; the Jacques Lipschitz Memorial Museum explores his life and legacy; the former Tarbut Gymnasium details Lithuanian Jewish history in the interwar and Nazi period; and the Green House looks at the Holocaust through the experience of Lithuania’s Jewish minority.

The Green House was named so because the exhibition is located in a green former house. The location was selected because it provides a compact and intimate environment within which to challenge visitors to think about what is the Holocaust and what did it mean to be a Jew during that period.

Green House today

Today, the Green House remains open for public viewing and uses a collection of artefacts, maps, letters, photographs and more to provide a comprehensive narrative of over 600 years of Lithuanian Jewish history. The exhibition also touches on notable Lithuanian Jews, such as violinist Jascha Heifitz and the Cubist artist Jacques Lipschitz.

The focus of the exhibition is, however, on the Jewish experience of the Holocaust, from the time of the Nazi invasion to the Soviet Union. Particularly interesting are the photographs of female Jewish partisans as well as a re-created attic hideout with a short video, providing a dreadful sense of daily life for Jews during Nazi occupation.

Getting to the Green House

In under half an hour you can walk from the Choral Synagogue to the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum and on to the Holocaust Museum at the Green House – a full introduction to Jewish life in Lithuania, past and present. The Green House is situated at Pamenkalnio behind some apartments. The trolley buses 1 and 7 stop on Pamenkalnio.