Rescuers of Jews

Balčinas Jonas

Jonas Balčinas, Barbora Balčinienė
Stefanija Balčinienė (Burbaitė), Petronėlė Balčinaitė

On the eve of World War II, Hirsch and Hana Gilis and their sons 17 year old Pesach, 13 year old Israel and 3 year old Yosef lived in Kaunas. In the first days of the German occupation Hirsch was murdered. Hana and her three sons were interned in the ghetto. After the children's action that took place in March 27 – 28, 1944 in Ghetto Kovno, which Yosef miraculously survived, he was smuggled out of the ghetto, found himself in the home of the Balčinas family, peasants from the village of Gražjūris, Kvėdarna county, Tauragė region. Jonas and Barbora Balčinas had no children of their own, and warmly received the Jewish child. Jonas Balčinas asked the local priest to register Yosef in the church's birth register, and so the Jewish child became Vytautas Balčinas.
Jonas and Barbora Balčinas, with Stefanija Burbaitė’s (later Balčinienė) and Petronėlė Balčinaitė’s help looked after Yosef as if he were their own son. After the end of the war Yosef was returned to his mother who survived Stutthof concentration camp. His brother Israel was also alive, but Pesach perished in Dachau. The Balčinas family continued to keep in touch with their adopted son and helped him and his family with food during the hard afterwar years. Yosef maintend contacts with his rescuers even after immigrating to Israel in 1972.
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