Rescuers of Jews

Andraitis Antanas


The Bolshevik and the Nazi occupations were painful to Professor L.Gutmanas.
The turbulent year of 1940. The Bolsheviks nationalize the house in native Palanga. Repressions are threatening.
The years of the Nazi occupation were tragic. L.Gutmanas' brother, doctor Teodoras Gutmanas and both sisters were killed by the Nazi collaborators on first days of the occupation. Dr. L.Gutmanas was dismissed from the University, and with his family – wife Vera and sons, students Eduardas and Georgas, imprisoned in the ghetto of Kaunas. After the Great Action in October 1941, Gutmanas with his family escaped from the ghetto. Dr. Gutmanas was a well-known doctor in Kaunas, he had cured many a patient. The first to offer him shelter was his former patient V.Serafinienė. She acquainted Dr.Gutmanas with the legendary rescuer of the Jews, monk (“little brother”) Bronius Gotautas, who in Israel soon after the war was awarded the title of the Righteous Among the Nations and in whose honour a tree has been planted in the Yad Vashem Memorial. B.Gotautas obtained an authentic passport of the times of Smetona where only the photograph had to be changed. Initially B.Gotautas settled L.Gutmanas in Panemunė, but in a few months he was recognized. Then L.Gutmanas was offered shelter by Antanas Andraitis, a student at the Academy of Veterinary, later an Associate Professor. Risking his and his family's life, he hid Dr. L.Gutmanas In his flat for two years. But here, too, L.Gutmanas was denounced and had to change the place of residence.
The liberation of Kaunas did not bring him happiness. His son Georgas perished two weeks before the liberation.
In post-war years L.Gutmanas, because of his humanistic views, fell out of favor of the then leadership of Kaunas University. Conferring of professorship was being delayed, and with the rise of the anti-Semitic wave of cosmopolitism, following the famous case of the “doctors murderers” in Moscow, attempts were made to dismiss him, illegally and without any grounds, from the position of the Head of the Department of Nervous and Psychic diseases. However, Professor L.Gutmanas remained unbroken. He was faithful to his ideals and views right to his last days of work, when in 1954 he fell gravely ill. He died on 4 February 1957, respected and loved by decent colleagues professors, students and numerous patients.

Recorded by Ilona Murauskaitė

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