Rescuers of Jews

Starkus Antanas

Elena STARKIENĖ Antanas STARKUS During the funeral service of Professor Antanas Starkus, who died on 20 August 1975, one of the speakers at his grave was Dr Olga Horwitz (Gurvičiūtė), a dental surgeon from Chicago. The Nazis had shut her in the ghetto, from which she had managed to escape. Dr Horwitz said: “I too have come to bid farewell to and to thank Doctor Antanas Starkus for the last time. His body is dead, but his spirit will be alive in the memories of his family, friends and his nearest and dearest. As long as I live, I shall remember the resolve and sacrifice of Doctor Starkus and his family in rescuing me. I lived with the doctor’s family for a year and a half. It was a long, horrific and gruesome period, not only in my life but also in the lives of the professor, his family, his little son and daughter. I still remember vividly how on Sunday the family returned from church and the children were the first to run up and tell me: “Hide quickly, some guests are coming.” The children felt the danger, but they never asked questions. They kept silent and shared their meals with me. The children were educated in the spirit of their parents. Many of those who are gathered here have spoken about Doctor Antanas as a volunteer in the Lithuanian army in the struggle for independence, as an activist in Catholic societies, and as a doctor. I knew Antanas Starkus as a human being. Father Yla said that in the Stutthof concentration camp he would not have survived but for the care and attention of Doctor Starkus. I can say the same about myself. Many here have spoken about God’s kingdom. Doctor Starkus endeavoured to implement that kingdom by his work and sacrifice here on this earth. He was a noble and honest man of great wisdom. He did not sell out, either to the Stalinists or the Hitlerites. He offered enslaved people his love, understanding and dedication, instead of hatred, revenge and greed. Even in moments when the last hope seemed to have disappeared and when it seemed the morning would never dawn, he managed to find a glimmer of hope and to show that not all of humanity had yet turned into beasts. He was a pure drop in a sea of blood. Thank you, Doctor. Let your noble spirit be an example to your fellow countrymen, the whole of mankind, and to the new generations.”

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 3,
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Vilnius, 2005
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