Rescuers of Jews

Žiužnys Jeronimas

Jeronimas Žiužnys (1883 –1964)
Adelė Žiužnienė (1901– 1967)
Zenonas Grigaitis (1918 – 2001)

The farmers Jeronimas Žiužnys and Adelė Žiužnienė lived in the village of Sviliai, near the town of Kėdainiai with Zenonas Grigaitis, Adelė’s son from her first marriage. The Žiužnyses were well acquainted with the Gell family, long-time residents of Kedainiai. The Gells had a flourmill and a store for agricultural tools, and the Žiužnyses were among their regular customers. At the beginning of the German occupation, the Gells were interned in the Kaunas ghetto. In January 1944, Chaja Gell secretly left the ghetto, reached the house of the Žiužnys family and pleaded for help. The Žiužnyses agreed to hide the Gells and some of their friends and relatives. One night Jeronimas and his stepson Zenonas came to Kaunas, 60 km from their village, and waited with their wagon near the ghetto fence until Chaja’s sister-in-law Chasia Gell with her two little children, Rachel and Jakov, crawled through the hole made in the fence. The three of them, wrapped in heavy winter clothes, were brought to the Žiužnys home and hidden in the storage shed. Several days later they were joined by Israel Gell, Chasia’s husband, and in February, by five other Jews – Baruch Intriligator, Dr. David Richman, Akiva Zaitsev, Zadok Bleiman (later Aviatar) and Abraham Rafaika. Since the shed was too small for all of them, Jeronimas and Zenonas dug a pit under it, where the Jews stayed until the liberation of the area from German occupation, at the end of August 1944. Adelė Žiužnienė supplied them with food and cared for their hygiene. After the liberation, Israel Gell was put in charge of the Šviliai mill by the Soviets. In May 1945, he and his wife, Chasia, were murdered by a gang of Lithuanian nationalists who also threatened to harm the Žiužnys family for having hidden Jews during the German occupation. The rescuers had to flee from the village and were sheltered by Dr. David Richman in his Kaunas flat. Six weeks later, after the Soviet police captured the gang, the Žiužnyses came back to their home. The rest of the rescued left the Soviet Union for Israel and the United States.

On April 10, 1994, Yad Vashem recognized Jeronimas Žiužnys, Adelė Žiužnienė and Zenonas Grigaitis as Righteous Among the Nations
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