Rescuers of Jews

Berčiūnas Jurgis Aleksandras


The Berčiūnas family lived in the village of Atesninkai, Alytus district. Jurgis Berčiūnas and his sister Birutė Berčiūnaitė (later Kaminskienė) were the ones who in 1942-1943 initiated the rescue of brothers Weinstein from Simnas, while other members of the family helped them, either actively or by keeping their secret.
They knew well the Weinstein family from the town of Simnas (Alytus district) and offered shelter to the Weinsteins and other persecuted Jews from Simnas and the vicinity, who succeeded in fleeing from the nearby ghettos and were looking for shelter in the surrounding villages. Thus Joseph Weinstein and his brother Abel (later Aba Gefen), as well Leib and Rachel Frank, Shmuel Ingel and his future wife, Lea Port were hidden periodically by Berčiūnas family.
All the mentioned people have survived thanks to the help given by Berciunas family and other peasants of the region.
After the war, brothers Weinstein immigrated to Israel and Abel Weintein (Aba Gefen) published there his wartime diary, Hope in Darkness. Many warm words of that diary were dedicated to the rescuers Jurgis and Birutė Berčiūnas, Ona Matulevičienė and others.
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