Rescuers of Jews

My Saviours
Rivka Osherovich

...their eyes would tell me: “There can be no talk of risk when a human being wants to be a human being”

/.../ When the war started, I tried to evacuate, but without success – the Nazi tanks outran me. I had to return to my empty and dismal apartment and spend there many horrible and dreadful days. /.../
Nazi order was introduced in ELTA the very first day of the occupation. I, as a Jew, could no longer work there, but many other diligent people, such as Natalija Jegorova, Sofija Binkienė and others, were fired too. Despite the risk, my former colleague Vytautas Kauneckas came to me and expressed his resentment to the bloody actions of the occupants and their henchmen and offered me his help. Several days later I met Sofija Binkienė. She was appalled by the situation too and tried to comfort me with warm words. I had no choice but to move to the ghetto in Vilijampolė district together with tens of thousands of other Jews of Kaunas city. 3 or 4 months later, I received a message from my former co-worker Ms. Natalija Jegorova that she was willing to hide me in her apartment if I managed to escape from the ghetto. After a while, I confirmed to Ms. Jegorova that I and my friend Mrs. Gerta Bagriansky would come to her after we had escaped from the ghetto.
29 January 1942, I and Mrs. Bagriansky came to Ms. Jegorova, who was living in the apartment of her closest friend Ms. Natalija Fugalevičiūtė. Those two women accepted us with exceptional care and love. One would have thought that they were hosting relatives that they hadn’t seen for quite a while instead of fugitives from the ghetto, for which they were risking their lives. I was particularly impressed by their serenity as if they were attending to their daily matters. Such peacefulness is characteristic to noble people, who find self-sacrifice to be their natural need. /.../
Often we were afraid that our hideout could be revealed. In such moments, I thought that I should have returned to the ghetto in order to protect Ms. Fugalevičiūtė and Ms. Jegorova from the risk of being arrested because of me. But each time when tongs of anxiety clamped my heart, their eyes would tell me: There can be no talk of risk when a human being wants to be a human being. Their peaceful confidence would somehow affect me and everything that menaced me and them would no longer seem that dreadful. /.../
I hid in their apartment for two and a half years. /.../
Ms. Fugalevičiūtė and Ms. N. Jegorova had lots of things to take care of, because rumours spread about those exceptional women and more and more people would come from the ghetto to look for help. The women wanted to help them all so they always kept in touch with the ghetto and fellow anti-fascists and tried to shelter as many people as they could, provide forged birth certificates for children, etc. Although they could not always find constant hideouts, they offered at least temporary aid for a dozen of people to survive outside the ghetto.
It was very difficult and dangerous to protect us all from the eyes of the strangers. It required craftiness, heroic effort and superhuman composure. Often, in the face of upcoming danger, people in hiding had to be quickly transferred from one place to another. New places where people could stay had to be found constantly. That was what Natalija Fugalevičiūtė did almost all the time.
2 June 1944, both Natalijas, I and Mrs. Bagriansky, who had already returned to Ms. Jegorova and Ms. Fugalevičiūtė, left for the farmstead of Mrs. Golubovienė in Kulautuva.
At that time, Mrs. Golubovienė was already hosting a lot of illegal people. /.../ In total, more than 15 people were living there. It was very hard for Mrs. Golubovienė to support us all and to hide some of us from the eyes of the strangers. She sold many of her personal belongings, and exchanged many things for food to sustain us until the liberation. It was a truly heroic deed that required enormous effort and complete devotion. This care for the repressed was the most sacred goal for Mrs. Lidija Golubovienė and the essence of her life.

From Unarmed Fighters. Ed. S. Binkienė. Vilnius, 1967
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