Rescuers of Jews

Rutkauskas Juozas

From Jeanne Ran-Tcharnyi Memoirs:

One day, when our work team was crossing the Green Bridge on our way back from the power station to the Ghetto, I saw J. Rutkauskas, the same Rutkauskas with whom I had worked at the Republican Statistics Board in 1940. He had noticed me too and moved to the edge of the pavement. I changed places in the column. He asked me quietly where I was working. The next day he visited me at the power station.
In summer 1939, after the Germans occupied Klaipėda, a law was issued, according to which residents of that region who were born and lived there until the year 1939 had a right to repatriate to the Reich. His wife was born in Tilsit. In accordance with this law, she with their children - two sons and a daughter, moved from Lithuania to Germany. Juozas Rutkauskas remained behind in Lithuania. Now, under the German occupation, the situation became favorable for him. He was given a job.
The Germans entrusted J. Rutkauskas to head a Passport Department in Rudamina, not far from Vilnius. He was in correspondence with his children. Both his sons served with the Wehrmacht - the German army - corporals in occupied France. His wife, with their daughter Margarita, part of a troupe, toured the front, giving concerts.
He offered his help and said he would be back.
Everything was mixed up in my head. At home - in the Ghetto - I shared my thoughts with my family, but my parents showed not the slightest interest to escape. I had confided in Lamm, with whom we had worked together as cleaners at SS Headquarters. I knew that he was a decisive man, and he expressed his approval of the Rutkauskas offer. We came to the conclusion that such an opportunity was not to be missed. Lamm suggested that I ask Rutkauskas how many passports he could get me.
When J. Rutkauskas visited for the second time, we found a more remote place to talk more quietly. To my most important question he answered, that he could provide more passports, but someone's palm had to be greased, because he was not the only one in the office. Each passport with a seal would cost two thousand rubbles or two hundred German marks. I forwarded this information to Lamm the very evening. He was already waiting for me at the Ghetto gate. Not long after that, I began to take out money and photos. The photos had been prepared within the Ghetto. In my head, I "carried" the information about the language which each owner of the photo could speak, besides Yiddish.
It was strictly prohibited for the Ghetto prisoners to carry money. By the way, where would we get money in the spring of 1943? And so, if during a search at the Ghetto gate the guards would have discovered that I was carrying money or photographs, which were also forbidden, there was no doubt that the punishment would have been death. When, returning to the Ghetto, I carried the forged passports, I always expected something terrible to happen. My parents knew nothing about my activity.

(...) J. Rutkauskas, knowing that we had no money, promised to provide passports for all four of us for free. Once he made this offer, I tried each evening to convince the family. Why must we just go meekly to Paneriai?!(...)

The Unbelievable Truth. Jeanne Ran-Tcharnyi, Vilnius, 2000

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