Rescuers of Jews

Stongvilienė Agota

Agota Stongviliene
Stanislovas Stongvila

A big Jewish Druk family resided in the village of Džiuginėnai in the vicinity of Telšiai. The parents Israel and Sara Druk had three sons and four daughters. For years the family had worked on its land; after the Russians’ arrival to Lithuania, in 1940, the Druks moved to Telšiai as their older son Yakov studied there in a world famous yeshiva.
On June 26, 1941 Telšiai was taken over by the German troops. On July 14th, Israel Druk and his sons Yakov, Yosef and Gershon were imprisoned and shot. Sara and her daughters found themselves in Geruliai detention camp, with hundreds of other Jews, mostly women and children, from the whole area. Sara and her daughters passed the selection and were marched back to Telšiai into a newly established ghetto. The majority of the Geruliai inmates were murdered.
The existence of the Telšiai ghetto came to an end at the end of December 1941. On the eve of its liquidation Sara and her daughters crossed the frozen lake that bordered the ghetto and headed to Džiuginenai, hoping to find shelter with former Lithuanian neighbors. Indeed, some of the village dwellers were ready to share food and some clothing with the Druks but not to shelter them on a permanent basis. Sara and the girls tried to survive in the forest for some time but the winter was severe and at night they nearly froze to death. They decided to split: Sara brought Dvora and Rachel, her youngest to a certain family she trusted. They welcomed the girls but after some time handed them over to the police.
Now only two out of seven Sara’s children were still alive: 19-year-old Gita and 18-year-old Lea. Understanding that their situation was critical, Sara approached a family that had not been her close friends before – Agota and Stanislovas Stongvilas. The head of the family surrendered to his wife’s pleas to let the Jews hide in the cellar.
The family Stongvilas led a very humble life, many times went to bed hungry, and sometimes the host did not allow his wife to feed the people in hiding. Luckily, Agota found support with Pranas Kazlauskas, her relative from the village of Vigantiškiai: he would periodically bring the food supply for the Druks.
In spite of many hardships Sara and her daughters remained alive and in October 1944 were liberated by the Russians while still at the Stongvilas’.
After the war the survivors lived in Telšiai for some time, where Gita and Lea got married. After the death of their mother, in 1952, the sisters moved to Vilnius and in 1967 immigrated to Israel. Agota Stongvilienė lived all her live in Džiuginėnai and passed away in 2001.

On March 20, 2006 Yad Vashem recognized Agota Stongvilienė
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