Kaunas Jewish Community Honors Our True National Heroes, Rescuers of Jews

Kaunas Jewish Community Honors Our True National Heroes, Rescuers of Jews

On June 25 the Kaunas Jewish Community paid honor to those who risked their own lives and those of their families to give the gift of life to those condemned to death. The people who rescued Jews were mainly quiet, everyday heroes, the Righteous Gentiles who are the real and unquestioned heroes of our country, heroes and heroines. On Thursday, June 25, the Kaunas Jewish Community was finally able to hold its annual evening to pay tribute to our Righteous Gentiles. Usually the event is held in spring just after Passover.

Kaunas Jewish Community members always look forward to the event, a meeting of friends. Time is merciless, however, and the ranks of rescuers and rescued grow thinner each year. Fortunately we have their children and grandchildren standing in for them, who are just as dear to us.

The relationship between the rescuer and the rescued is vitally important to both parties and this relationship often grows into that of family, and is passed on through the generations. Those who were children of rescuers during the Holocaust are not recognized as Righteous among the Nations, but also took part in the rescue process, standing guard on the lookout for strangers, delivering food or simply caring for people. Now they speak with a special sort of love of their temporary brothers and sisters and preserve all items which recall this as priceless regalia.

Long-time alderwoman of the Aleksotas aldermanship Liukrecija Navickienė and Vitalija Krivickienė, the mother of Titas Masiulis who gave his life protecting Lithuanian independence on January 13, 1991, shared their memories with us at the event. It seems there must be a gene passed on from generation to generation which imparts self-sacrifice, decisiveness and courage!

For the first time the Smolenskas family from Vilkija attended the party. As Algimantas Smolenskas told it, he thanked his grandparents for the existence of his two sisters, brother and himself who during the war rescued their father, who then fell in love with the rescuers’ daughter.

We would like to thank the performers whose artistic program lent the evening beauty and a special mood: the actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė whose father also rescued Jews, saxophonist Michail Javič, Jolita, Stasys and Rokas Makštučiai whose mother and grandmother were saved, and the enchanting Andrijana Filinaitė and her equally charming musical partner Beata Andriuškevičienė. We would also like to thank Kauno Diena newspaper correspondent Jurgita Šakienė and photographer Vilmantas Raupelis who found time in their busy schedules to attend and write about our event, the full text of which can be found here.