Rescuers of Jews

Savickas Jonas

Miriam Rest’s Story

Marija and Jonas Savickas lost their only son. He was 2 years old. Family moved to Kaunas to forget this tragedy. Marija was already 44 in 1941, so she couldn't have children herself. She was ready to adopt a child. Miriam Rest was given to her in 1943 on Marija's only requirement – that the child would never be returned.
Hilel Rest, unable to find another home for his daughter, finally agreed to her terms. Miriam Rest was born on the 3rd of September 1941 in Kaunas ghetto to Hilel and Dora Rest. She had sister Henia, who was 4 years older.
Miriam was given to Marija when she was 2y.o. She had been drugged with sedative to sleep, then was put in a sack, and placed inside the truck filled with potatoes being transferred from the ghetto to feed the German soldiers.
The truck stopped at some place near the forest, where Hilel dropped the sack, two seconds later the gestapo drove by and demanded to know why the truck had stopped. In the meanwhile Jonas grabbed the sack and run into the forest. Hilel explained that he needed to urinate, therefore the truck stopped. The gestapo didn't believe and hit him and started to shout "tell us the truth – we saw you dropped something".
At that moment Marija came forward and said, – why are you hitting this man? Gestapo said, – we saw him drop something. She said, – I have been standing here all the time and saw nothing dropped. Gestapo ordered the truck to proceed forward. Marija then run home to find Jonas lulling the child and started screaming, – "She is dead". Jonas said, – you stupid woman, she is sedated with a drug, she will wake up soon. Miriam woke up to find two complete strangers and started to cry. She didn't allow the strangers to touch her or feed her and finally they gave up put the food and milk on the floor and left her alone. Miriam has learned this story in 1976 when she met Marija in Helsinki, Finland.
Miriam later appealed to Yad Vashem in order to assign to Marija and Jonas the Righteous among the Nations title.
Hilel, Dora and Henia were put on the train and sent to Stutthof. Dora and Henia perished in Stutthof. Hilel was sent to Dachau and liberated by the Americans after the Death March.

Written by Regina Kopelevich following Miriam Lazarus (Rest) words, on 1 February, 2010
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