Rescuers of Jews

Petras BAUBLYS (1914–1973)

Rita Šatrovaitė

During the World War II (1942–1944) Petras Baublys was the head of the Kaunas Lopšelis foster home, which thanks to the humanism and dedication of this doctor as well as his colleagues, became a shelter and a place of survival not only for the orphans but also for the severely persecuted Jewish children, mostly from the Kaunas Ghetto. Altogether it was saved around twenty children. Today they spread all around the world, have children and grandchildren and always were, are and will be grateful to the person that saved their lives.
Petras Baublys was born in 1914 in Lyda, present Belarus. He was a sixth and the youngest child in Piotras and Zinaida Baublys family. Father was a famous pedagogue. In 1905 Petras Baublys together with famous Lithuanian linguist Jonas Jablonskis arranged the first confidential congress of teachers in Vilnius. Mother was a pedagogue as well. She worked as a teacher in Vilkija secondary school.
Later the Baublys family moved to Kaunas. Here Petras graduated from “Aušra” gymnasium, in 1936 – from the Faculty of Medicine of Vytautas Magnus University as a paediatrician. He was devoted to paediatrics his entire life not only by treating children as required by the Hippocratic oath but also by rescuing them from all the hardships of life and fatal danger.
During World War II (1942–1944) Petras Baublys helped to Jewish children from Kaunas Ghetto. When the members of the Kaunas Ghetto underground organisation knocked on the doors of the Lopšelis foster home managed by Petras Baublys, and asked him to shelter their children and provide them with forged documents, the doctor agreed to help, despite the bans and threats of the Nazis. With a hope of help, he was asked not only by Jewish parents but also by Lithuanians who decided to help the persecuted. Famous Kaunas architect Vladimiras Zubovas together with his wife Danutė, who was the daughter of famous Lithuanian composer and painter M. K. Čiurlionis, were looking for people in Kaunas and its outskirts who were willing to shelter Jewish children. One such person was the head of the Kaunas Lopšelis foster home Petras Baublys. He promised to the Zubovas family to help.
However, even though Dr. Petras Baublys agreed to take in Jewish children, the road from the Kaunas Ghetto to the foster home was not easy and full of danger due to the persecution by the Gestapo and its supporters, and other unfriendly people who posed an imminent threat. One careless step might have caused the death of the saviour and the saved child. Despite these dangers, members of the ghetto underground organisation Ida Shater (Ida Šaterienė) and Peisach Shater (Peisachas Šateris) known as the “fence snooping specialist”, and also Ronia Rozenthal (Ronia Rozentalienė), Dita Zupavichene Sperling (Dita Zupavičienė (Šperlingienė)), Sheina Berelovich (Šeina Berelovičienė), Polia Musel (Polia Muselienė) and others took care of rescuing children.
By admitting Jewish children to the Lopšelis foster home, Petras Baublys (like all the other colleagues, who were Jewish rescuers) was risking a lot. This not only posed a risk to his career but also to the life of his wife and two sons. Constant danger was present for the rescued Jewish children – the Gestapo was curious by the fast growing number of the orphans and they would initiate constant check-ups at the foster home. For reasons of safety of the Jewish children and members of the Lopšelis staff, as well as with the aim to turn off the Gestapo, older and stronger Jewish children were sent to work at the places of farmers, mostly to the Suvalkija region.
There is an old Lithuanian saying: sole on the battlefield is not a soldier. Fortunately, Dr. Petras Baublys was not alone in his fight against the Gestapo or the entire Nazi ideology. It was not only him who took care of the children accommodated at the foster home but all the staff there – the doctor was particularly supported by nurses Elena Uborevičienė, Pranciška Vitonytė, Jadvyga Liepinaitienė, Onutė Samuolytė-Liutkevičienė and others who were entrusted with all secrets.
When the war was over he continued his work as a paediatrician and was considered one of the best paediatricians not only in Lithuania but in the entire former Soviet Union. He was the Head of Vilnius University Contagious and Children‘s Disease Department for ten years and up till 1958 he was senior paediatrician at the Ministry of Health. He also published a number of scientific articles about infant pathology, was the co-author of a text book entitled Children’s Illnesses. For merits in paediatrics Petras Baublys became an associate professor in 1954 and in 1969 he defended his PhD thesis and became a Doctor of Medical Sciences.
However the fate of this famous doctor was tragic. In 1973 at the age of 59 only, Petras Baublys died in a plane crash together with other Lithuanian paediatricians who were flying to Moscow...
Four years after his tragic death in 1977 he as well as his brother Sergijus Baublys and wife Jadvyga were recognised as the Righteous among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Museum. Two trees were planted in the Garden of the Righteous to pay tribute to them. The honourable awards were taken and the trees were planted by Petras Baublys’ brother, architect and bibliophile Rostislovas (Rostis) Baublys, who lived in the UK.
In 1993 Petras Baublys was awarded the Life Saviour’s Cross. In 1994 the official opening ceremony of the memorial plaque was held in the Vilijampolė district near the Lopšelis foster home on building No 10 in Kaunas One may read the following words in Lithuanian and in Hebrew on the memorial: “In this place, in the former foster home Lopšelis, famous Lithuanian paediatrician Petras Baublys with his colleagues rescued children from the Kaunas Jewish Ghetto in 1942–1944.”
However doctor and humanist Petras Baublys deeds rescuing Jewish children during WWII will never be forgotten. His children and grandchildren can be proud of him as the following people will be eternally grateful to Petras Baublys for their lives: Rina Zupavichiute-Wolbe, Tamara Ratner-Kadishaite-Levy, Ariela Abramovich-Sef, Rut Lacman-Peer, Ruta Jedaite, Ariana Jedaite, Yakov Zoreff, Vladimir Katz, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren... How many lives did Petras Baublys save? This question remains a rhetorical one – it is not clear how many children were sheltered in “Lopšelis” and later taken by Lithuanian, Polish and Russian families and scattered all over Lithuania. How many children rescued by Baublys or their descendants do not know their real roots. Perhaps some of them wonder – from whom they inherited black hair or darker skin...

From the 4th book Hands Bringing Life and Bread
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum
You are currently using the mobile version of this website.

Switch to mobile view
Mobile version