Rescuers of Jews

Lukaševičiūtė-Daugevičienė Gabrinė


In February 1943, when Saulius Kuklianskis and his children – Moshe, Ana and Samuelis – escaped from the liquidated Grodno Ghetto and returned to Lithuania, the residents of Sventijanskas village, Lazdijai District, Jonas Daugevičius and Vladas Daugevičius constructed the first hideout for them. Although the location of the hideout – a forest pit – was held in top secrecy, and the fugitives and their rescuers tried to conceal any traces, the hideout became unsafe around Easter, when the first mushrooms appeared. The Daugevičius family decided to change the location of the hideout and advised the Kuklianskis family to move to a dense fir grove under a huge fir closer to the Ančia River.

The same fir tree happened to be the hideout for the village youth when the authorities would come to recruit them into the army or works in Germany. Soon the Kuklianskis family was spotted by Jonas Lukaševičius – a 19 years old boy from Sventijanskas village. Upon returning home, Jonas told his mother what he had seen and was immediately instructed to take food to the fugitives – a jug of milk and a loaf of bread. Jonas told the Kuklianskis family that they should not leave this region and should hide in the vicinity, as these parts are far from roads, authorities and officers. He proposed the fugitives to find a suitable place in the forest with the help of his family, dig a pit there and stay there, fed by the poor but charitable farmers of the surrounding villages who think for themselves and do not succumb easily to propaganda. He promised to discuss this with his family. (Memoirs of Moshe Kuklianskis.)

The Lukaševičius family consisted of brothers Jonas and Stasys, their mother Mikalina Lukaševičienė, Mikalina’s elder son Antanas and two daughters – Gabrinė and Juzė (the other two Mikalina’s daughters were already married and lived separately with their own families).

Stasys Lukaševičus agreed with his brother Jonas’ idea and shortly the entire Lukaševičius family chose a new suitable location for the Kuklianskis family hideout – a place in a different part of the forest, far from the villages and the river. Moshe Kuklianskis and Jonas Lukaševičius constructed the hideout and camouflaged it carefully with moss, junipers and small pines. Moshe Kuklianskis tells: “On the occasion of the ‘pitwarming’ Mikalina Lukoševičienė gave us an extremely valuable, priceless and unique present by saying that her potato pit was always open for us, i.e. that we could treat ourselves to her potatoes whenever we wanted. This was enormous aid. We, of course, did not abuse her generosity, but every time we came, we used to find some extra food prepared for us, such as meat, cheese, etc. Mikalina was a very smart, kind-hearted and generous woman who would find the best ways to help us. By the way, her children were very intelligent too as well as honest and good-natured, able to love and respect others, and honourable among themselves. Without their wise suggestion based on the knowledge of the area and people, and consistent aid, we would have probably perished.

In 2008, Mikalina Lukaševičienė, Jonas Lukaševičius, Stasys Lukaševičius, Gabrinė Lukaševičiūtė-Daugevičienė, Juzė Lukaševičiūtė-Semaškienė and Antanas Lukaševičius were titled the Righteous Among the Nations.

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