Rescuers of Jews

Marijona Jurkšaitienė (Šlapikaitė), a widow with three daughters and a 17-year-old son Juozapas had inherited the farm of her parents in Virvagaliai village, Šakiai district. The family was living there in 1941, when the war broke out. Marijona Jurkšaitienė was a deeply pious Catholic. Though her brother monk Juozas Šlapikas she got acquainted with Kaunas Holy Trinity dean Salesian priest Bronius Paukštys.

The account of Juozapas Jurkšaitis

/.../ In the beginning of 1943, priest Bronius Paukštys offered my mother Marijona to rescue Jews. He was looking for reliable people in the villages, who could help to hide and feed the Jews that he had managed to get out of the hell of Kaunas Ghetto one way or another. We discussed this with my mother and decided to help him. Priest Bronius Paukštys’ younger brother Juozas Paukštys was taking care of a young Jewish woman Pnina and her 5 or 6 years old daughter Shulamit in Kaunas. From the spring of 1943, they both moved to the homestead of my mother Marijona in Virvagaliai village. We did not hide them in any special way, because Pnina had fair skin and we explained to everybody that she was a relative from Kaunas. Besides, the authorities in our district were reliable.
Pnina would often ask my mother to accept yet another resident of the Kaunas Ghetto – Abraomas Golubas (Avraham Tory), with whom she had got acquainted earlier. So we prepared a long carriage pulled by two horses and in the beginning of November 1943 (the 2nd or the 3rd day) my mother left for Kaunas. Avraham put on a villager’s shirt and a big cap on his head and a carriage with a “peasant farmer” in it moved back. When they were crossing the Aleksotas Bridge guarded by German soldiers, Avraham took the ribbons in his hands as a true farmer and my mother walked on foot just in case.
Although Avraham Golubas spoke Lithuanian fluently (he was a graduate of the Faculty of Law of Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University), he had very dark hair, and we hid him from the eyes of strangers in a small room. I constructed a hideout in the woodshed, which we intended to use in case German soldiers showed up in the village. At night, me and Avraham would go for a walk. He would teach me German. At night, he would write memoirs about the life in the ghetto. Under his request, I hid these notebooks under the floor in the barn. Later, in Israel and America, Avraham Tory (Golubas) published several books about the Jewish community in Marijampolė and the most horrible days in the Kaunas Ghetto. My mother would console Avraham saying: “Albinėlis, everything will be alright” (In the homestead, we used to call Pnina by the name of Elena, Shulamit was renamed Saliamutė, and Avraham was called Albinas).
All three survivors stayed in Virvagaliai village until August 1944. When the Germans retreated, they left for Kaunas and I was drafted in September of the same year.
My mother Marijona Jurkšaitienė died in 1969 and was buried in Lukšiai town.
In December 1989, Avraham Golubas (lawyer, vice-president of the Maccabi World Union and President of the Lithuanian Union of Jewish Students) invited me to visit him in Israel. I met his family there – his wife Pnina and his daughter Shulamit. They kindly showed me around Tel Aviv and other places in Israel.
3 January 1990, under the decision of the Yad Vashem Institute, I and my mother Marijona were awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medals and diplomas. We were presented with those awards on 10 January 1990. I planted a tree in the Alley of the Righteous on this occasion.

From the letter of Juozapas Jurkšaitis to J. Ronderis
Marijampolė, 7 February 1993
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