Rescuers of Jews

Murauskas Gediminas


A childless widower Gediminas Murauskas lived alone in his small private house in Romainiai, a suburb of Kaunas. In late 1941, an acquaintance, Isaak Movshovich, asked him to shelter a Jewish orphan who was absolutely alone in the ghetto. After receiving Gediminas’ agreement, Movshovich brought him nine-year-old Haim Schmidt. Haim was a native of the city of Jonava, (Kaunas District), where he had lived with his parents, Abraham and Gita. Every summer he used to spend his school vacations at his grandmother’s, Taibl Schmidt, in Kaunas. The year 1941 was not an exception. Since the German invasion of the USSR started suddenly and the occupiers entered Kaunas quickly on June 23, 1941, Haim was not able to return to his parents. Together with his grandmother he was incarcerated in the ghetto where they were helped by Taibl’s acquaintances, the Movshovich family. After Taibl’s murder in the mass killing operation of October 28, 1941, the Movshoviches cared for Haim until the opportunity arose to sneak him out of the ghetto. Gediminas welcomed the child warmly. Even though it was extremely dangerous to hide a Jew, he felt that it was worth taking the risk for the life of an innocent boy. He grew attached to Haim and cared for him as if he were the son he never had. Gediminas did not hide the boy all the time, but only when he saw strangers in the neighborhood or heard about a wave of house searches. During quieter periods, Haim lived openly with his rescuer, helping him with the house cores and caring for the domestic animals.
They remained together until the liberation of Kaunas from the Germans and for a year thereafter, until Gediminas’ death in 1945. It was then that Haim began the life of a beggar, wandering the streets of Kaunas, working for food and sleeping where the night would find him. He became acquainted with other teenagers that led the same life, among them some of Jewish origin. Through one of them, he met a woman from Jonava who was looking for her lost son. It turned out to be Haim’s mother. She had been evacuated to the East and had thus survived. Haim’s father had joined the Red Army and returned alive from the front. The family settled in Kaunas. In the 1970s, Haim Schmidt and his family immigrated to Israel. On November 3, 2004, Yad Vashem recognized Gediminas Murauskas as Righteous Among the Nations.
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