Ona Šimaitė: Quiet Warrior for Life

Ona Šimaitė
Ona Šimaitė in Israel. Courtesy Vilnius University Library


One hundred and twenty-three years have passed since the birth of Ona Šimaitė, who rescued dozens of Jews of Vilnius from death during World War II. Let’s recall the quiet heroism of this Righteous Gentile. Her name isn’t uttered often in Lithuania. Her commemoration consists of a plaque at Vilnius University and a small and narrow street named after her, winding from Kūdrų park at the edge of the Užupis district up, ending in steep steps leading to the Old Town. To the place which became the symbol of suffering and death to thousands of our fellow citizens 70 years ago who were fated to be born Jewish. To the Vilnius ghetto, where at the will of the Nazi occupier those condemned to die spent their final days. To the place whence the humble librarian Ona Šimaitė, without fear of death, rescued many who had lost hope.

Full story in Lithuanian here.