Rescuers of Jews

Tautavičius Stasys

Zenonas Tautavičius, Stanislava Tautavičienė and their son Stasys Tautavičius

The couple Zenonas and Stanislava Tautavičius were wealthy farmers who lived with their three sons on an isolated farmstead (khutor) near the village of Judrenai (Telšiai County, Šiauliai District). The Rainiai estate was located about 1.5 km away from the Tautavičius farm. The Jews of Telšiai and the vicinity were detained to the camp arranged inside the Rainiai estate
In July 1941, the Tautavičius family heard about the murder of the Jewish men in Rainiai camp. The women and children were transferred to the Geruliai camp. On the 30-th of August thousands of women and children were shot in Geruliai. The rest 500 young women were driven away to Telsiai into the new ghetto established.
On the 23-d of December the Telšiai ghetto was liquidated and all the young women and girls were shot in Rainiai forest. So, Telšiai town became Judendrein – free from Jews.
A few days after the mass murders, Stasys, the oldest Tautavičius son, met his relative Tijunaitis, who told him that he was hiding in his home two Jewish women and a girl, 11-year-old Maria. The conditions there were not suitable for the girl, so Tijunaitis asked if he could take her to the farm. Stasys picked the girl, Maria Rudman, and brought her to his parents’ home. The parents, all too aware of the danger entailed in hiding a Jew, supported Stasys’ decision. Maria, who had lost her parents and her little brother and had witnessed the mass murder of Jews, was in a terrible mental state. It took weeks for her to recover even a bit and begin to feel safe with the Tautavičius family. In addition, she had to be taught local customs, Christian prayers and farm work before she could be exposed to strangers. Stasys and his parents spent long hours with her to improve her pronunciation of Lithuanian. The young Jewish fugitive stayed with the Tautavičiuses until the liberation of the area at the end of the summer of 1944. Maria would move around freely in the house and on the farm, help Stanislava to the best of her ability, and sometimes went out with the cows to pasture. When policemen came by or Germans were in the vicinity, Maria would hurry to hide in the forest until the danger passed. After the liberation, she was found and taken away by her aunt Zhenia, who had also survived. The two left Lithuania and later Maria (now, Rozenblat) immigrated to Australia.
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