Rescuers of Jews

Jaroslavas and Teklė RAKEVIČIUS And their children Juozas, Zenonas, Česlovas and Algimantas We got along with the Jews very well. We were like one family. Therefore when Nazi Germany took over Lithuania, our whole family helped the Jews to survive. / Algimantas Rakevičius

Our family – parents Jaroslavas and Teklė Rakevičius together with four sons Juozas, Zenonas, Česlovas and Algimantas – lived on our farm in Keidžiai village, Viduklė district, Raseiniai county.
We got along with the Jews very well. We were like one family. Therefore when Nazi Germany took over Lithuania, our whole family helped the Jews to survive. We could not let innocent people to be killed. We did everything to save the Jews. We kept doing that throughout the entire period of the German occupation and we saved about 50 Jews from death. Those who survived now have families, children and grandchildren.

Leading Jews out of the Kaunas Ghetto

According to the requests from the Jews we were hiding in our home during the German occupation period, we went to Kaunas and organised taking Jews out of the ghetto. It could be done in various ways. In 1942 our mother Teklė fell ill with womb cancer and was hospitalised in Kaunas clinic for treatment. She was treated with x-ray; so she had one session a day, and the rest of her time was free. She would go to the Vilijampolė ghetto on the arranged time and if the moment was right, she would give a note to the first man she met there. The note would say that we were waiting in the agreed place for the people to lead them out of the ghetto. Mother would describe how to recognise her, and my father would wait for the safe time to meet the Jews and leave the city with them. Taking Jews out of the ghetto could be successful because of various reasons: unwary guards, chatting to them and diverting their attention, etc. There were few actions of taking Jews from the ghetto; about 30 people were lead out.

Taking the Jews from the Kaunas Ghetto to our home

The Jews that were saved from the Kaunas Ghetto needed to be taken 80 kilometres to our home. For safety reasons, we had to walk or cart with horses. The process would take three, four or even more days. We, brothers left at home, would wait for them. Also we had to find good people who would give shelter to the saved Jews in the neighbouring villages. Our home was a Jew rescue centre – they were distributed and lead to their hiding places from there. We spent days and nights on duty, trying to notice coming enemies, Germans, police or other untrustworthy people on time. If we got to know there were Germans moving around, we would have to take Jews to safer places, and take them back later.
In 1993 Česlovas Rakevičius was invited to come to Israel and accept awards to our family for rescuing the Jews. We were awarded medals and documents of the Righteous Among the Nations. Our names were inscribed on the memorial plaque in Jerusalem, Israel. When presenting us with the medals, the representative of the Yad Vashem institute said that our family was unique and the only in the world that had saved so many Jews.

Algimantas Rakevičius
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