Rescuers of Jews

Landsbergienė Ona


A message in Yiddish from the materiai of the former Vilnius Jewish Museum on the rescuers and the rescued. (The museum was closed in 1949, the message was written in 1946.) “Doctor Landsbergienė saved the daughter of Doctor Gurvičienė.” The original is kept in the Central Archive of Lithuania, R-1390, the copy – in Case No. 291.

“...I must save my daughter Bela. At the end of my search for shelter, I come to Dr. Landsbergienė – is an ophthalmologist who lives in Donelaičio Street. She knows me from the University.
During the academic year, she was Professor Avižonis' assistant. Two-village woman, all wrapped up in large shawls and holding wicker baskets in their hands were waiting at reception. They were not dangerous. When Dr.Landsbergienė carne out of the room and saw me, she greeted me and treated me like a patient who had returned for additional examination. She put a special electric heater, shaped like two round cushions, on my eyes and it covered my face almost completely. In doing that she whispered a few encouraging words to me. What kind generosity. At that moment I was overflowing with gratitude to her. It was so good to sit with my face hidden. Safe and warm, I let myself relax after all the humiliation I had experienced in the course of the day.
When my turn carne, Dr.Landsbergienė called me into the room, drew black curtains across the windows, which is usual when the fundus of the eye is examined, and asked me how she could help me. She listened to me very attentively, thought for a while and ... said, without any superfluous words, “Let her come”. Such shortness stood out in the character of Doctor Landsbergienė, the dearest of all people, who is no longer among the living. External coolness was hiding her big and good heart and deep feelings, her infinite kindness...”

Original Iwrith
Excerpt from the book Reminiscences of a Doctor by F.Gurvič, Lochamej Hagitaot, Israel, 1981

From a conversation with Professor E. Budreika

“During the occupation I lived for one year in the family of Petkevičiai. With Justas Petkevičius, the son, I studied law, I was a law student before my architectural studies. His mother was the daughter of Rygiškių Jonas Jablonskis, and his father, Tadas Petkevičius, a professor of law, taught us commercial law. Konstantinas Jablonskis also lived in this family, he later became an academician in history, and his two daughters, the elder Rima and the younger Jūratė, who later married Umbrasas, he is dead already. Jūrate – a famous excellent surgeon, while Rima is a doctor of history, she was digging in the environs of Šventoji, she is an archeologist. So in this family during the occupation also lived Gurevičienė, and Gurevičienė is the architect V.Landsbergis-Žernkalnis' sister. And none of us had to be aware that the Jewish doctor Gurevičius was hidden, protected under the stairs. His daughter was there, she lived, it seems to me, in the same house. And when you left the house, there was a wooden post in a small square, and a poster in German was stuck on it, to the effect that not only a family hiding Jews but all residents of their house might be shot dead. So we knew all that, but of course, did not go into the depth of it, did not discuss it with the landlords, only later when I was making an interview, I did make an interview with Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis myself, so he wrote a long list of the names of Jews whom he had rescued. So among them there was Gurevičius. And one more name – Gurvič. This is Gurvičaitė Bela. He later wrote to me, when I had already submitted the article about him on the occasion of his 95th birthday, he sent me a card from Kačerginė since I did not know where he had disappeared to, it turned out he was on holiday in Kačerginė, so I thanked him in Kačerginė for that card and I still have that card at home, here he wrote that Gurvičaitė's name was Bela and her mother was a doctor too. So evidently there was a connection as well. Well, besides, I knew that he was hiding the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Vilnius, Vitas, and his children, and as for his children, so I think, Vitaitė is already a professor at the Conservatoire, and Vitas-son, he was my student, here in the Bolshevik times, there was an evening department of the poly technical institute, of Kaunas Polytechnical Institute, so he studied there. I had an additional job there, teaching drawing geometry. So I definitely know that he rescued and protected those Vitas, well, I read about it.
...It seems to me that some five names were mentioned, but I do not remember the rest of them, only those that he corrected for me. And I can show them written. And then I have one letter of his where he thanks me for that article, without mentioning that lots had been omitted there, and what was omitted was all that I wrote about the members of the Jewish family that he had rescued.”

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 1,
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Vilnius, 1997
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