Rescuers of Jews

Juozas STRAUPIS (1900–1978)
Bronislova STRAUPIENĖ (1902–1996)

When the German army invaded Lithuania, the Straupis family decided to save the condemned Jews without pondering about the involved risk. Their farmstead in Šarnelė village became a true centre of salvation for the Jews for the next three and a half years.
A huge Faktor family of tanners from Alsėdžiai became the first Jewish family hidden by Juozas Straupis. Twelve people who had come from Alsėdžiai in a carriage pulled by two horses and on two bikes were taken by Juozas Straupis to the farmstead of Juozas and Adolfina Kerpauskas in Šarnelė village. Later the refuges were joined by three more people, saved by Juozas Straupis from the Telšiai Ghetto.
When the Faktor mentioned two families of doctors imprisoned in the Telšiai Ghetto, Juozas Straupis decided to rescue them and hide them in his own farmstead. At first, Juozas Straupis took Taubė Jankelevičiūtė and Malka (Mania) Kaplanaitė from the ghetto, and later the family of doctors Miriam and Mausha Blat. Doctor Dovydas Kaplanas remained in the ghetto until the last day and hid in Telšiai afterwards. The Telšiai Ghetto was liquidated on 23 December 1941. Finally, 31 December 1941, Juozas Straupis took Dovydas Kaplanas from Telšiai and brought him to his home in Šarnelė village.

From the memoirs of Dovydas Kaplanas:

When we left the town, Juozas Straupis said to me: “Now we will be kith and kin.” He told me about the people he had saved. I was the last one because there were no more people left in the ghetto. He could not sit still while there were people there. Now he had to take care of all the refugees. He counted a total of 25 people. When I said that I had no property to pay for my sustenance, he replied without hesitation: “I don’t need any payment. I just want to save people from death.” /.../

From the memoirs of Miriam Blat:

I had a child a year and a half old (Liba) and I was pregnant. It was very hard to hide with a child, therefore he (Juozas Straupis) was risking his life and the lives of his family taking my child around the villages and looking for a hideout for her. Finally, Straupis find a place in Telšiai and gave the child to Stanislava Dausinienė.

Dovydas Kaplanas testifies:

It was extremely difficult to take care of six adults in hiding. /.../ In this noble quest, Straupis was selflessly assisted by his wife Bronislova. For three and a half year we were hidden by Straupis from the eyes of strangers and courageously took on all risks. Their patience was inexhaustible. There were different problems, there was even a search carried out, but they would always find a way out. They would change hideouts and assured their neighbours that the rumours about hidden people had no substance./.../
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