Rescuers of Jews

Talačka Simonas

During the German occupation, Simonas and Ona Talačka and their son Mykolas lived in Liciškėnai village, Jieznas Subdistrict, Prienai District. Simonas’ brother Juozapas Talačka was living in Kaunas and was working as a boiler-room stoker in the Military Culture Centre. Jews from the Kaunas Ghetto would be brought there to work. Among them was Mr. Kvartovskis who was living in the Kaunas Ghetto with his wife and his daughter Dora (Dvora) born September 1941. At the end of 1943, rumours started spreading about the scheduled roundup of children and Mr. Kvartovskis asked Juozapas Talačka to save his daughter. Doctor Fruma Gurvičienė gave Dora sedatives and the father put the sleeping girl into a big bag which he gave to Juozas Talačka on his way to work. Then, Mykolas Talačka came from the village to visit his uncle, stayed there for a while until the girl got used to him and took her to the village to his parents – Simonas and Ona Talačka. In the village Dora was called Elytė, while her dark hair was hid under a headscarf.

Dora Kvartovskytė (Dvora Burshtein) remembers:

I did not look Aryan, so my hair was dyed blond. There were many children in the Talačka family and everyone had his or her duties and work they had to do. Mykolas Talačka, 14, was appointed to look after me. He treated me as his sister. He would feed me, put me to sleep and – most importantly – hide me from unwanted eyes. Neighbours were very inquisitive and Mykolas had to think of various ways to conceal my presence from them. He taught me Lithuanian language and prayers to hide my identity. We would go out together every morning and he would stay by my side 24 hours a day. We would sleep in hay together so no one would find us.

Mykolas Talačka remembers:

We were living between two hills, so we could see who is coming. We knew which neighbours were good people, and we would hide from the bad ones. In winter time, we would hide in the barn, the attic or on the traditional stove inside the house. In summer, we would run to the nearby grove or pasture. At times, we even had to hide in the potato pit and the basement. Those were hard times, because Dora could not understand many things and there was no way to explain them to her.
Thus we lived in fear, trying to keep ourselves safe as we could. We knew very well the consequences of being disclosed or betrayed. We did not spoil Dora as we were not rich. She was fed as everyone else in the family and wore simple clothes to blend in. My duty was to put her to sleep, feed her, play with her and cure minor ailments. The most important task was to survive. And we were successful in this up to the end of the war.

Dora Kvartovskytė’s father was killed in the Kaunas Ghetto. Meanwhile her mother survived the horror of the Stutthof concentration camp and in 1946 to her greatest delight she found her daughter Dora unscathed in the Talačka family in Liciškėnai village.
At present, doctor Dora Kvartovskytė (Dvora Burshtein) resides in Israel.
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