Rescuers of Jews

Lukša Vincas

Feigė Kaganaitė-Kentrienė

I was born on 7 July 1920 in the village of Pavandenė in Varniai rural district. My father was Jacob Kagan, my mother Lina Kaganienė (Movšovičiūtė). In 1913–1914, my three brothers – Leiba, David and Morris – left for America. Four children remained in our family: my brother Meyer, my sisters Sara Miriam and Malkė, and me.
We had a farm. My father rented out several hectares of land, and also worked as a shoemaker. I went to primary school in Pavandenė and finished four grades there. In 1930 my parents moved to Varniai. My brother and one of my sisters started their own families, and the other sister left for America in 1934. In Varniai, I went to a Jewish school where the instruction was in Hebrew. After finishing school, together with my classmates Klazaitė, Lichtaitė and Malag, I took private lessons with the teachers Leibovitch, Kelman, and Shosen. We would receive syllabi from the Telšiai gymnasium. In this way I finished three gymnasium grades.
In 1938 my father died. I was left with my mother. Our brothers in America helped us financially. In 1940, when the Soviets occupied Lithuania, all contacts with America broke. I started work at a shop and worked until June 1941. The outbreak of the war meant the beginning of hell. On 27 June 1941, armed bloodsuckers took us to Telšiai. We were imprisoned in the Geruliai concentration camp, and later in the Telšiai ghetto. Only poets and writers could describe our suffering...
Younger inmates were taken to work in villages. Thanks to the earthly angel Juozas Lukša and his son Vincentas, I have survived. They lived in Panakatis village in Varniai rural district. I worked on their farm. They had found out that the ghetto would be liquidated in December 1941 and that we all would be killed. Since we were no longer taken to work in late December, I ran from the ghetto half-dressed, and with difficulties reached the Lukša's farm. It was not only me who was facing a deadly danger, but them as well. My mother was killed in Geruliai, my sister and her six children in Rainiai. The eldest was twelve, the twins - eight months old. My brother and his wife and two aunts were also killed. My sister's husband was killed at the front; he fought in the 16th division. In 1942 Lukša took me to Karklėnai where he knew the parish priest, Dominykas Andzevičius. However, I could not stay there because the priest did not trust the sexton. I walked to Vaiguva. When I came into the parsonage, the caretaker asked me if I had anything to donate to the church. I said I didn't; I didn't even have any clothes. Then she opened a chest and let me choose what I needed. The priest of the church in Vaiguva was Šapoka. I gave him a note that I had been hiding in my shoe. He read it and took me to the Vaiguva estate, to the home of disabled old people. Nuns (Sisters of Providence) cared after the disabled. There were several raids there. They were running into danger, and I had to hide. Later I was sent to Panevėžys. Through the efforts of the parish priest Antanas Juška, I again found myself in the disabled old people's home in Troškūnai, later in Anykščiai; I worked there from March to August 1944. My name was Teresė Šliargytė.
When I was hiding at Lukša's, he used to tell me, 'Do not cry, girl. It will never happen that those leaders of the nations who kill innocent people -women, children and old people - could win the war'. His words came true. But the bleeding wounds in our hearts will never heal.
After the war I found it very hard to start again, because I was alone and did not have any sources of income. Yet in spite of difficulties, God helped me. In 1956 I married Leonas Kentra, a Lithuanian. I have a daughter and a son, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. We all live in Kaunas.
Kaunas, 2001 m.

Su adata širdyje. Getų ir Koncentracijos stovyklų kalinių atsiminimai.
With a Needle in the Heart. Memoirs of Former Prisoners of Ghettos and Concetration Camps. Vilnius, 2003

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