Rescued Jewish Children

Rut and Ariana Jed

The First Taste of Chocolate

Rut and Ariana Jed (Told by Ariana)

From: Solomon Abramovich and Yakov Zilberg “Smuggled in Potato Sacks”, 2011

My father, Meir Jed, studied medicine at Leipzig University; there he met Edna Fuks, who soon became his wife. After graduation my father worked as a surgeon in Germany. When the Nazis came to power he was arrested, severely beaten, his jaw was broken, and he was imprisoned. My mother Edna managed to have him released with the assistance of the Lithuanian Embassy and our parents hastily left for Lithuania. My sister Ruth was born in 1939 in Kaunas, and myself, in 1940.
From the beginning of the war our father served in the Soviet Army. His eldest brother, Motl, who was also a surgeon, had not listened to father's advice to evacuate; he told my father that he couldn't abandon his patients, and he was shot in the hospital ward. My grandfather, Aaron Jed, and my father's younger sister, Ester, perished in the Kaunas Ghetto.
In the very first days of occupation, the Gestapo came to our apartment. They tortured my mother, demanding that she should reveal where she had hidden her daughters. Our mother said nothing. Then she was given an injection and died in twenty minutes.
Our aunt Gerta Fuks, Dr Baublys, Professor Mazhylis and many other people took part in our rescue. We were hidden in the ghetto, sometimes in villages and in an orphanage. From that period I vaguely remember several episodes. The most awful episode ran constantly in my memory, but I cannot tell where it exactly happened. I saw how a policeman had snatched the baby from the arms of a woman and had thrown him out through a window. I remember the sound of the fallen body; the woman rushed to the window and having seen her dead child threw herself out to her own death.
I remember how Rut was sent to feed a bucket of fodder to a cow. The cow, on seeing Rut, ran toward her. Poor Rut, who for the first time in her life had faced such a beast, ran away and dropped the bucket. Rut was beaten by the farmer's wife for losing the swill.
The children's home, where we had been transferred, was located near a forest, and there was a big veranda in front of this house. I remember that we were always hungry; despite this, I could not eat the 'blood' sausages that they used to give us. Once I asked Rut why we did not have a daddy and a mum, like the others. Sh esaid, 'Children don't always have parents. You were brought to me by a stork so that that I would not feel lonely.'
Lithuanians often came to the orphanage searching for Jewish children. The frightened children would run away to hide in dark corners, under a table or bed. Sometimes children were found and carried away. Rut was very clever and had taught me to stand easy and to look the strangers in the eyes. So we, blondes, were never suspected of being Jews. People also came to the home looking for children to adopt. Rut demanded that we should not be separated. Quite often couples wished to adopt me, but Rut trained me to bite soas to frighten off potential adoptive parents.
Dr Dugovsky had served in one division with our father. In 1945 he spent several days off in Kaunas. He met a group of children from the orphanage and recognized Rut among them. Having returned to the army he urged father to go to Kaunas to check if it was indeed Rut.
A brother and sister Nemeikshas used to take us from the orphanage to their house. I very much liked visiting there, where we played in the garden. I remember vividly how the door of the Nemeikshas' house opened and our daddy entered. He saw Rut, fell down to his knees, embraced her and began to kiss her, sobbing as I had never in my life seen him do. I was dumbfounded. I was taught that it is necessary to be afraid of 'Russians' with pistols, and here Rut was embracing one. 'Rut why don't you run away?' I shouted. Only now Father noticed me. He asked Rut, 'Who is this girl?' 'It's Ariana,' she answered. Then Father tried to hug and kiss me, his crying renewed with new strength. As I was taught by Rut, I started to bite and kick. Father offered me some chocolate. 'Take it Ariana,' said Rut, 'it is a hundred times better then sugar.' I liked chocolate very much. I thought, 'What a strange man, he gives away such a tasty thing for nothing.' Later Rut told me, 'I lied to you that we do not have parents. This man is our daddy.'
Father had to return to the army. He left us in the care of our pre-war maid, Maria, paying her, but he did not know that she was also working as a prostitute. Once, a Russian soldier stayed at Maria's place; he got drunk and started to smother her. She pulled away, attacked him and escaped. The soldier started to shoot around with an automatic rifle. We cowered in bed and by a miracle were not injured, the wall above us was covered with bullets. The soldier approached the window, and continued shooting randomly at the street until he was shot by a militiaman. He collapsed before our eyes.
After Father returned from the army he married Asya, who became our mother. We moved to Vilnius where Father began to work as a paediatrician, and he quickly gained popularity and respect. In 1958, by means of a fictitious marriage of Rut to a Pole, we obtained the permit to leave for Poland. One day before our departure, an officer of the NKVD came to our house. Father was out, but the officer waited for about four hours until he returned. When father saw the officer he went cold with fear, he was sure that he was to be arrested. The officer calmed him, telling him that there had been a denunciation: two Jews had informed the NKVD about Rut's fictitious marriage. The officer, possibly grateful to our father for the medical care he had given his children, told him he would delay the investigation, but that we should leave the USSR immediately. So we did and in 1958, via Poland, arrived in Israel.
In Israel, Rut worked for the rest of her life as an oculist; I became a microbiologist. We both married, established families, each of us with two children.

Petah-Tikva, Israel, June 2009

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