Rescuers of Jews

Vaitkūnaitė-Nagienė Birutė


Birutė Vaitkūnaitė (b. 1920) lived in the city of Kaunas with her parents. During her studies at the gymnasium, she had become friendly with her classmate, Helena Berman. Despite the objections of her father, who disapproved of the relationship between his daughter and the Jewish young woman, Vaitkūnaitė came to the aid of her Jewish friend. Without informing her parents, Vaitkūnaitė secretly rented a one-room apartment where Berman went to hide after her escape from the Kaunas ghetto in late October 1941. Vaitkūnaitė provided her friend with food and other necessities to the best of her abilities. Knowing that Berman was worried about the fate of her mother, Vaitkūnaitė, upon her own initiative, put the yellow star on her clothes and entered the ghetto with a work brigade returning from the city. She found Berman’s mother, bringing her the long-anticipated news about Helena, as well as some food. After a night spent in the ghetto, Vaitkūnaitė left in the same manner she had entered. In spring 1942, Berman moved to the countryside, using an assumed identity to survive, and in 1943 she joined the partisans. Vaitkūnaitė (later Nagys) fled from Lithuania in 1944 and eventually settled in Canada. After the war, Helena Berman immigrated to Israel. On May 11, 1994, Yad Vashem recognized Birutė Nagys (néeVaitkunaitė) as Righteous Among the Nations.

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