Rescuers of Jews

Karalevičiūtė-Čepanonienė Elena

and their children:
daughter Elena and son Leonardas Genrikas

In the autumn of 1941 a big Alpertas family from Semeliškės village (Geršonas Alpertas, Alteris Alpertas, Joselis Alpertas with his wife Chana and daughter Gita, Elijas Alpertas and his wife Beile) approached Pranas and Stanislava Karalevičius, who lived in Bijūnai village, and asked for help. The Karalevičius family agreed to help all of them. During the night they dug a hiding place behind the barn, but the number of refugees was increasing. Leizeris Musnickas with his children Faivush, Shlioma and Cilia and also Shulman with his wife, daughter Sarah and son Elijas also asked for help. In 1943 one more family from the Vilnius ghetto arrived – Shmuilovich couple with a 3-year old son Piner. The hiding place became more and more crowded. Therefore, the rescuers created one more hiding place in Strėvos forest, 4 kilometers away. Both, rescuers and refugees had to overcome many difficulties. They all lived in constant tension and fear until the final liberation. Petras and Stanislava Karalevičius, with the participation of their children Leonardas-Genrikas and Elena saved more than 10 people. However, despite the titanic efforts undertaken by Pranas and Stanislava Karalevičius and their children, not all the people, whom they helped, managed to survive. For example, Purvaitė and Patašnikienė having received food reserves from the Karalevičius, went to a new hiding place in Strėvos forest, but both of them have been killed on the way. Chana Alpertiene’s daughter, born at the Karalevičius’ place, did not manage to survive. The newly-born had been given to the elderly childless couple Tamkūnas, who lived in Nečiūnai village, but the girl had been discovered and killed by local persecutors of Jews.
According to the words of Elena Čepanonienė (Karalevičiūtė) the most difficult thing was to provide food and clothes to all the people. Pranas Karalevičius owned only 8 hectares of land, but he possessed “hands of gold”. He was also characterized by an extraordinary sense of justice and a generous heart, same as his wife Stanislava. They raised their children in the spirit of justice and high morality. All this allowed the family to complete their heroic deeds.
The big Alpertas family, which survived thanks to Pranas and Stanislava Karalevičius, did not forget their rescuers. Up until their departure for Israel in 1957, they maintained close and very warm friendly relations with Pranas and Stanislava. In the summer of 2006 Gita Alpert Figelman visited Elena Karalevičiūtė-Čepanonienė, who lives in the same village of Semeliškės.
Cilia Levinienęė (Musnickaitė), residing in Germany, wrote the story about the noble deeds of the Karalevičius family and sent it to the museum.
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