Rescuers of Jews

Krušinskienė (Jočionytė) Ona


Eugenijus Krušinskas, along with his wife Ona, four children and Eugenijus' mother Ona Krušinskienė, lived in the village of Jadagoniai, in the Šakiai district, Lekėčiai eldership. The daughter of the Krušinskas family, Elena Latkauskienė (Krušinskaitė), writes in her memories that, at the beginning of the Nazi occupation, her father was already thinking about how to help the Jews: “in the nearby small town of Pavilkys lived a Jewish family with a young daughter. My parents had close relations with them. Once the Germans arrived, my father told us that we would have a little sister. After some time, my father went to bring the eagerly awaited 'sister,' but he came back sad. The adults spoke a language we didn't understand (Polish), and my father's mother was crying. To us, children, my father said that something unfortunate had happened, and the little sister would not be coming.
In April 1944, the Krušinskas family homestead became a hiding place for nine refugees from the Kaunas Ghetto, including the physician Eizenstat and his wife, Eizenstat' son Michael, a student at Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, with his wife, Neimark and his wife, and Neimark's mother, Josef Kleiner, and Arie Bauminger, a refugee from Poland. The head nurse of the clinic, where Dr. Eizenstat worked, arranged with her relatives, the Krušinskas, to hide these nine people. Several times, the nurse, a relative of the Krušinskas family, and Eugenijus Krušinskas himself, brought the refugees from the Kaunas Ghetto to Jadagoniai in April 1944. Striving to keep the secret, Eugenijus took all possible precautions, installing several hiding places for the Jews. From the memories of Elena Latkauskienė: “Our house was of two ends (long). We arranged a hiding place underneath the house. In the room above the hiding place, a sick person was lying, and the entrance to the hiding place was under his bed. All the people lived in that large room. In the other end of the house lived our family. In case of any danger (if a neighbor or someone else came by), a prearranged signal was given through the wall, and everyone, except the patient, descended into the hiding place. For camouflage, a cross, holy pictures, and other attributes of our faith were hung by the patient's bed. <...> For safety reasons, two more hiding places were made: one under a shed, covered with logs and straw on top, the other - in a trench next to the house, where the walls and ceiling were covered with logs.” Getting food for such a group of people was a significant problem. Eugenijus' mother, Ona Krušinskienė, took care of it all the time. She went to farmers and bought food: eggs, vegetables, butter, and everything they had. She earned money for food by selling clothes, given by Neimark, or brought by Eugenijus from Kaunas. When food was scarce, the Krušinskas family had to slaughter a cow. Unfortunately, someone noticed that the Krušinskas were hiding Jews and reported Eugenijus Krušinskas. It became clear that a new, safer place needed to be found for the refugees, so the Jews were arranged shelters in a nearby forest, where all but the doctor, Eizenstat, stayed until liberation. Unfortunately, the old doctor Eizenstat arrived already seriously ill and died before the Nazi occupiers left Lithuania. The Krušinskas had to bury him secretly near their house. Eugenijus Krušinskas's fate after the war unfolded tragically: in 1946, five peasants from Jadagonis village, including Eugenijus, were arrested, convicted, and deported for spreading anti-Soviet literature. He did not return from exile, but died in 1949 in the city of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
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