Rescuers of Jews

Simokaitienė Zofija


In November 1943, Mina Leizonienė, a former colleague of Zofija, came to her flat in Kaunas. Mina's husband Efraimas, her 13-year-old daughter Ada, and her 7-yearold son Dovydas were imprisoned in the Kaunas Ghetto. The woman was asking for help.
Two days later she came with both children. Juozas Simokaitis took Ada Leibzonaitė to his sister's farm in the Kaunas region. Everyone was told that she was a distant relative who would look after the children. Ada stayed with this family until the end of the war.
Then Simokaitis took Mina Leibzonienė and Dovydas to the farm of his father-in-law, Antanas Boguslauskas, in West Lithuania. Here, on the large farm, she worked as a dressmaker. Dark and curly-haired Dovydas was told not to appear before strangers, so he stayed in a small room with his mother or in the fields with the shepherd.
As a specialist, Efraimas Leibzonas was sent to the dye shop of the stocking factory, and he was in danger only when preparations for the liquidation of the ghetto began. He secretly ran away and stayed in the flat of the Simokaičiai under the guise of a family friend from the Vilnius area. His intelligence and extremely correct speech never raised any of the suspicions of his saviour's guests. Since the neighbours of the Simokaičiai were decent people, Efraimas Leibzonas lived there happily until the end of the war.
After the war, the family of Leibzonai reunited and settled in Kaunas.
The fates of the rescuers were very diverse. The family of Juozas Simokaitis' sister, who had saved Ada Leizonaitė, were deported to Igarka in 1948 and returned to Lithuania only in 1958. Zofija Simokaitienė's father, Antanas Boguslauskas, who had sheltered Mina Leibzoniene and Dovydas on his farm, was arrested and sentenced soon after the war ended. He died in a camp.
Efraimas and Mina Leibzonai and Juozas Simokaitis have departed this life. Ada Leibzonaitė lives in Israel, Dovydas Leibzonas lives in Vilnius. Today, selfless friendship links the rescuers and the rescued.

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 2,
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Vilnius, 1999
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