Rescuers of Jews

Goberis Petras


Antanas Bendorius and his wife Antanina lived in Klaipėda before the war. Antanas completed geography studies at Königsberg University and Berlin University, worked as a teacher of geography in Klaipėda and as a lecturer at the Pedagogical Institute in 1935-1940, and prepared a program of geography courses for preparatory schools. His wife Antanina had a knitting business and was in contact with Jacob Simon, an owner of a textile factory in Klaipėda. Jacob's brother-in-law Josef Bialik, owner of a yarn mill, also lived in Klaipėda. In 1936, Riva was born to Joseph and Frieda Bialik (nee Simon)
In 1939, after Germany annexed the coast of Klaipėda, Antanas Bendorius moved to Kaunas with his wife and two daughters and taught geography at the Aušra preparatory school and the Šančiai preparatory school. The Bialik family moved to Kaunas from Klaipėda, but Josef Bialik, fearing that Germany might occupy Lithuania, decided to look for work in the U.S.A. to secure a safe future for himself and his family.
Josef Bialik arrived in New York on October 21, 1940 but he was unable to remove his family from Lithuania. After Nazi Germany occupied Lithuania, Josef's wife Frieda, her two young daughters, and other family members, were imprisoned in the ghetto in Vilijampolė.
As rumors spread that Jewish children would be taken out of the ghetto and murdered, Frieda Balikienė, with the help of Jacob Simon, agreed that Antanas Bendorius would transport her daughter Riva from the ghetto and hand her over to his relatives in the countryside. Antanas Bendorius implemented the plan: The girl initially was brought to the Bendorius house, and from there in 1943 she taken to a farm in the village of Giraitėliai, near Lazdijai.
Living on the farm were the parents of Antanas Bendorius, Jonas and Rožė Bendaravičius, and their daughter Marė Goberienė (Bendaravičiutė) with her husband, Peter Goberis. Rivas was cared for by everyone in the family, including the Gobėris children, especially their daughter Ina.
From a letter from Ina Stankevičienė (Goberytė) to Jura Vizbaras (Bendoriūtė):  “They brought her to us in the summer of 1943. The hay already had been cut and we two slept that night on hay.  At first she did not really want to socialize with anybody. Your father Bendorius brought her and he told us children that this is a Russian girl. That her mother had been deported to Germany and her father had died on the front.  That she had had a throat operation, and that is why for a while she will not be able to speak. That she needs most of all to be in fresh air, just be gentle with her. Meanwhile to our parents he told the truth. They ordered me to go out and watch the cows and to take with me this girl named Lydute.  She was about 9 or 10 years old.”
Riva very quickly made friends with Ina and said that her name was not Lyda but Riva. The Goberis children were told to keep this secret and not to tell their neighbors. Riva quickly learned to speak Lithuanian and became a member of the Goberis family.
After the war, Riva started attending primary school in Papėčiai under the name of Lydutė Lukauskaitė. Sadly, her real mother did not appear - during the liquidation of the Kaunas ghetto she was sent to Stutthof and killed there. The sister of Riva also remained missing.
In 1946, it was learned that Riva's mother's cousin, Chaya Gilis, had survived. She asked to bring the girl to Kaunas. Riva recognized her aunt and her daughter, Gudela, and was very happy to see them again. Marė Goberienė handed over the rescued girl to Chaya Gilis, who took Riva to Germany and arranged for Riva to sail, in December 1946, on the U.S.S. Marine Marlin to her father Joseph Bialik, who lived in New York.
Unfortunately, Riva was not destined to enjoy happiness for long: she fell ill and died on November 30, 1948 at William Backus Hospital in Norwich, Connecticut.
Petras and Marė Goberis, who had helped to rescue Riva, in 1947 received a letter from Riva, they but did not have time to answer the letter, because they and their daughters in 1947 were deported to Siberia.  They returned to Lithuania only after 12 years.
In 1944, the family of Antanas and Antanina Bendorius emigrated to the West.  They learned about the fate of Riva from Chana Rochman, a relative of Riva who had survived the war and emigrated from Lithuania.

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