Rescuers of Jews

Sarpalius Vladas


To the Society of Jewish Culture

I received your letter belatedly – it got lost among newspapers at my neighbours'. I apologize for being late with my reply.
How then did we help the persecuted Jews? First of all, it should be said that it was a joint effort of our families, relatives, neighbours and other people of good will. Secrecy had to be guaranteed, possible searches foreboded, and the sheltered people had to be moved to safer places without delay. There were reliable people who agreed to take care of them for 1–2 days, until the danger passed. All that was related to considerable risk.
Thanks God, our efforts were not in vain: all those directly in our care, as well as those who found shelter at the homes of other people well known to us, survived to the day when the German army retreated from our area (it happened on 31 July 1944 in our village, and some time later elsewhere). Close contacts were maintained with all guardians, they were heartened up and encouraged not to break down and become victors in the hard struggle for preservation of people's life.
Protection began in August 1941. The Feldbergai family (Feldberg Šmuelis and Feldbergienė Janina with two girls – Rūta, about 4–5 years old, and Aneta who was about one) were the first to ask for at least temporary hiding. They were divided among relatives in the following way: Feldbergas stayed with me, Feldbergienė with the bigger girl – with my sister Magdė Kašinskienė, while little Aneta was taken by Stankevičienė, a compassionate woman of very high morale, in a more remote Sarmačinai village. Soon Goldbergienė Foma asked M.Kašinskienė for shelter. Besides, other Jews who spent days at the homes of farmers living farther would come at night to our place to wash and bathe themselves. Then Feldbergienė and her daughter were moved to my other sister Kastulė Savickienė, who lived in the neighbourhood. At night, the Feldbergai family would go to one of the sisters, Kastulė Savickienė.
Juozas Zilberis was hiding and met the day of liberation in the home of my brother Kilikevičius Juozas, who lived approximately one kilometer away from me. The Čečkevičiai, compassionate people of very high morale, gave shelter to Juozas Zilberis' little daughter in Vilkaviškis. The girl grew up there, when the front line moved from Vilkaviškis she lived with her relatives, later she got married and left for Israel, and later went abroad.
My close neighbour Petras Karuzas hid Kopas Mejeris and his brother for three years. After liberation they left for Israel.
Davidavičiūtė Emilija, her sister Davidavičiūtė Maša with her husband and daughters found shelter at Vincas and Uršulė Dailidavičiai in Pagramdai village, at Jonas Viltrakis in the same village and at the Svotai in Steponai village (they were moved from place to place depending upon circumstances and threatening dangers).
Kirkilovskis Alteris and his brother-in-fate and friend, called by the pseudonym “Jonas”, were mostly hiding at the Miliauskai in Geršvinai village, at my cousin Uršulė Rucevičiūtė in Smilgiai village (they were also moved from place to place depending upon circumstances).
Šapiras Joselis and his wife successfully hid at the Danilevičiai in Sausininkai village, at the Janavičiai in Paežeriai village and at my cousin Sarpaliene Adelė and her husband Sarpalius Vladas in Žomčinė village (they moved around escaping danger).
Šteinas Ickus and Šteinienė Sara hid at Juzė Gudaitienė in Garšviniai village; other Jews would come there for temporary shelter, until danger passed elsewhere.
Also, the Jews sheltered directly by us (me, my sisters, brother Juozas) were, depending upon circumstances, moved to our parents, cousins, and sometimes, for 2–3 days, to reliable people.
Thus about 40 people – including family members who were aware of and kept the secret – took part in this noble mission.
Saved lives are the merit of all of them. They all deserve gratitude.
That, in short, is what I can say about the rescued and the rescuers. We all, who rescued, feel moral satisfaction that we managed to conquer fear, to break the instinct of self-preservation and become victors in the fight against unheard in history violence, atrocity and wild power of Hitler's Nazism.

Respectfully yours, P. Kilikevičius /signature/ 8 October 1992

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 1,
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Vilnius, 1997
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