Rimantas Stankevičius utilized Holocaust Remembrance Day to present again his biography of Lithuania’s first recognized Righteous Gentile Ona Šimaitė on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The book was published back in 2021 by the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania. He gave an interview about his book to the news website delfi.lt.
“… at the intersection of Stiklių and Didžiosios street [in Vilnius] there was a false-flag operation intended to show Jews had attempted to kill a German officer. … Men, women, children and the infirm were sent en masse [from the nieghborhood] to the prison. One elderly woman was carried. Women marched cradling babies and with small children who clung to their mothers’ skirts. Many children from the orphanage were marched there along with their teachers. I saw a cobbler with a limp from Stiklių street whom I knew well. He wasn’t able to walk without a walking stick. They took his cane at the entrance to the prison and began beating him with it. Then they threw the stick through the prison gate whistling, guffawing and cursing the prisoners. On the other side of the prison I saw a Jewish woman in a white hospital gown. She appeared to have become completely lost. I looked for my 11-year-old daughter who was taken from home to no one knows where when she was supposed to be on duty at the hospital. I advised the woman to go home quickly so she wouldn’t end up in the prison. I wrote down her name and address and promised to do everything I could. The well-known Lithuanian public figure Marcelė Kubiliūtė and I went to the home of Buragas, the director of Jewish affairs. I went to Lithuanian security. I looked over lists there but didn’t find the girl’s name. I shrugged my shoulders and asked, ‘Is it worth getting all worked up about a Jewish girl?’ When I inquired where the girl might be, they suggested I go to the Lithuanian Special Squad which was shooting Jews. There was no sense going there at all,” Ona Šimaitė, librarian at Vilnius University from 1940 to 1944, stated.
Rimantas Stankevičius said: “This is the rare person who has seen the life of the Vilnius ghetto from the inside, who has experienced that which is unknown to people who don’t live in the ghetto.”
Ona Šimaitė received permission to enter the ghetto based on claim she needed to collect books borrowed from her library. In fact she kept going to the ghetto out of compassion, love of humanity and filled will the resolution to share in the human suffering of those who wound up in the jaws of death.
Full article in Lithuanian here.