Rescuers of Jews

Sankutė-Toliušienė Teresė

From Icchokas Meras and Yonina Meras Gersh' Memoirs:

Michalina Legantienė brought us to her small room on Kalnų street 14. She rented that room at Petronėlė Urbelienė’s place. On Michalina’s request I was sheltered by Petronėlė Urbelienė and her husband Adomas Urbelis. However the local government got to know our hiding place, and a couple days later we were sent to the farm of Mošė Gelmanas in the village of Laukodemė (about 3 kilometres from Kelmė). This farm had also been turned into a ghetto. Before bringing us, Urbelienė and Legantienė advised us to run from the concentration camp and come back again to them. After some time my brother and I managed to escape. One early morning we returned to Kelmė. We did not keep close to roads or paths; instead, we were hiding ouf of fear in the bushes, gardens, ruins of burned-down houses lest , someone saw us. I returned to the Urbelis household, and my brother went to that of Legantienė.
Local authorities, however, got to know our hiding place again, and a day before the second and final mass killings of Kelmė Jews, elder Lopata went to Urbelienė and Legantienė and demanded them to take us to the huge barn of the Kelmė manor house, to the same one where we had been imprisoned once, with our mother when she was still alive, on 28 July, i.e. one day before the first mass killings of Kelmė Jews. That day the garden was brimful of Jewish women and children doomed to death. Now, on receiving the elder’s instructions to take us to that same barn, our benefactors and we, children, became frantic with worry out of fear that another mass killing was on the way. Hiding in Kelmė, even at the edge of the town, was already becoming dangerous. This is why next day Urbelienė and Legantienė took us out of to the village, hoping to find villagers who would help them hide us. However the villagers they knew refused. Then Urbelienė and Legantienė started stopping the wagons of villagers they did not know, asking: “Do you need a shepherd boy, missus?” And all the villagers kept asking: “Are they Jews?” On hearing the “yes” reply, they would say: “Thanks, we don’t need any”. Finally Sankienė, a rich farmer, and her daughter Teresė drove by and stopped. Sankienė was hesitant to take us, but then her daughter Teresėlė said: “Mama, take these children...Take these children...”, and her mother said: “Alright, let’s go”.

From the 4th book Hands Bringing Life and Bread
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum
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