Rescuers of Jews

Kavaliauskas Kazimieras

Miriam’s Story

The War caught up with seventeen-years-old Miriam and her family (mother, father and brother) in her native township Pašvitinys. Soon all Jews of the township were driven into the Žagarė ghetto.
Miriam recalls:
My father Israel (Srolis) was blond, blue-eyed, like a Lithuanian. He escaped from the ghetto and tried to hide. He knocked on neighbours' doors for help. Most likely he was shot somewhere in the area.
My brother Judel (Judka) was nineteen. The Germans locked the young men in the Žagarė synagogue. Judel was tall and broad-shouldered, so they took him too. In the ghetto we did not realise this, but the locals knew they would be shot.
The Jews had to dig their own pits. There, near the pit, my brother's friend ran off and was shot. They made Judka toss the corpse into the pit. He carried it and threw it in. The Žagarė policeman Kazys Liutikas was surprised that my brother was so strong and talked to him. Judka said that he wasn't a Jew, but a foundling brought up by Jews and that he could do all sorts of farm work. Liutikas took him off to his wife's farm. Liutikas kept my brother on until he had prepared all the vegetables. Judka's leg began to rot because of fear. He needed a doctor, but who cared? Neighbours urged him to run away. But how, when your leg is rotting? Then the policemen came to the farm, took my brother and shot him in Žagarė Park. He lied unburied for a few days and I do not know where they dug his grave. Liutikas did not need my brother any more. The work was done, so what use was he?
Mother Sara. One night an acquaintance of mine, the policeman Vladas Beleckas, came to us in the ghetto. He asked Mama to let me go with him because he wanted to help, but I was afraid and hid behind Mama's back and said that I wouldn't go anywhere. The next day Lithuanian policemen rounded up Jews in the Town Square. One man in a uniform made a speech from a balcony, saying "listen, don't be afraid, we will take you off to work". He told us to lie down and drunken policemen began to shoot. Mama was shot in the leg and I bandaged her with a scarf. They did not allow us to speak and walked around us, beating us on the head with sticks. They tossed Mama into a truck and drove off. She was shot with the others in Žagarė Park.
"God, now they will shoot me".
I was lying in the square; I raised my eyes and Beleckas took me by the hand and led me away. He took me to Kazys and his wife Justina Liutikas. They accepted me as a daughter. While I was still in the ghetto I used to come to clean their house. They lived in the centre of the town in a large Jewish house with six rooms. Someone complained to the Police that one Jewish woman had escaped. We were sent to the Police and there was a trial. Mrs Liutikas was a real actress. I couldn't say a word to the officers, I was so afraid. I almost fainted and she leaped up to say that the girl couldn't talk because she was suffering from angina.
The judge took a look at me and exclaimed at once: "What have you brought here. She's a pure little Yid girl!" Nevertheless, the Court had to decide whether I was a Jew or a Lithuanian brought up by Jews. I was saved when the priest of Žagarė Kavaliauskas found "witnesses", Ona Navickienė, who "confessed" that she had given birth to me and then left me with Jews to raise me. My "midwife" had been Mrs Beleckienė, and the Pašvitinys priest Teišerskis had "baptised" me. What an act they put on me! In the end it was decided that I was Marijona and the Liutikases were appointed as my guardians. I lived with them until the end of the war.
In 1944, Marijona married Mr Tiesnesis. The Soviet Authorities tried and then sentenced Kazys Liutikas to exile in Siberia and his fate is unknown. Ona Navickienė, her daughter Stasė Navickaitė-Motiejūnienė, the priests Jonas Teišerskis and Kazys Kavaliauskas, Morta Beleckienė were recognised as "Righteous among the Nations" (an award granted by the state of Israel to those who rescued Jews) and awarded the the Life Saviour's Cross (by the Lithuanian Republic).

Žydų gyvenimas Lietuvoje. Jewish Life in Lithuania. Parodos katalogas. Vilnius, 2001

You are currently using the mobile version of this website.

Switch to mobile view
Mobile version