Rescuers of Jews

Meškauskienė Ona

Shmuel Chalozin’s Testimony About the Meškauskas Family

Place of residence during the war. I did not have any: I lived wandering from one place to another in the Kelmė District, hiding in the forests with the help of my Lithuanian neighbours, I used to sleep in the houses of peasants, barns, stables, cemeteries, etc.

I, Shmuel Chalozin (Šmuelis Chalozinas), was born in Lithuania, in Šimaičiai village, on the farm of Shimon, my father Yakov Chalozin’s brother.
Our family originally was from Kelmė and lived in the surrounding area for 200 years till the end of World War II.
In 1930–1937 we lived near Kelmė, about a kilometer away from the town, on the farm of Mažeikinė.
In 1937 we moved to a new farm which my father bought in Licenava, some 5 kilometres away from Kelmė.
My family had always been a farming family. We grew wheat, barley, rye, and flax. We kept cows and sheep. Our land was a peat bog, so we used to dig, dry the peat and sell in the town as fuel. My father also took part in the state forest thinning competitions, cut down trees and sold them for building and fuel.
After the war started, when the front approached in 1941, the town burnt down. There were more than a hundred Jews living in our farmstead, some of them were killed during the First Action on 29 July 1941, and the rest – during the Second Action on 22 August. On that day some of our family members were in the fields and managed to escape the baltaraiščiai who had surrounded our farm, while the others managed to hide. After that, we started hiding. Our farm in Licenava was given to a German family which used it till the end of the war. This family retreated together with the German Army in August 1944.
After the killings of 22 August 1941 we became homeless, destitute and persecuted refugees. My parents Yakov and Sara Reizl, brothers Hirsh, Aharon and Itzhak, sisters Chaviva and Sima and I needed help in every possible way which was provided by our neighbours – peasants who lived nearby. Later on there were many more Lithuanian peasants, acquaintances and friends who helped us. Unfortunately, only four from our family managed to survive – my sisters Chaviva and Sima, my brother Itzhak, and me. Our parents and brothers Hirsh and Aharon were turned in while hiding and killed.
Our friends could be divided into three groups.
The first group. “Take as much food as you need, but we cannot provide shelter for you”.
The second group. Support was provided by separate family members, for example, the owner of a farm, but people were afraid of their brothers or hired employees, etc.
The third group. This was the most precious and the most important group to us, because the entire family or separate people were united in helping us (mostly priests or their maids). They used to help us with food, medicines, clothes, and used to hide us, warn about the betrayers or the actions of the police, etc.
The Meškauskas family was as follows: head of the family Pranas Meškauskas, his wife Ona, daughter Stefa, sons Antanas, Teodoras, Petras and his wife Zosia. A whole bunch of people, no doubt, were the closest, so we attributed them to the third group.
A few examples:
1. When we were running away we left some of our belongings to Viktoras Damanskas, one of our neighbour. We placed confidence in him. However, Antanas Meškauskas found out that Damanskas was turning Jews in. We lost trust in him. As we wanted to be sure of this we asked the Meškauskas family to talk to Damanskas, when he would visit and we would hide at the turn of the road and listen to their conversation about the Jews as they walked by. To our great disappointment we heard Damanskas ask the Meškauskas family to help them to turn the Jews in as he knew that the family had ties with Jews.
2. In autumn 1943 Shoshana Most, a resident of Tauragė who escaped from the Šiauliai ghetto and whom I knew well, fell very ill while hiding in a village near Kražiai. I was asked to help as I knew the vicinity really well because of my moving around from place to place. I took her to Dr. Dolnickis who was hiding nearby at the place of farmer Šalkauskas. On our way back we met a villager named Zaharij (I do not know whether this was his first or last name). I did not know him personally but I knew that he used to turn Jews in and it was clear that after this meeting the police would come. We turned the other way and went to the Meškauskas family. I told Petras Meškauskas what had happened, and first of all he sent his youngest brother Teodoras outside to act as a lookout. His wife Zosia (Karpaitė-Meškauskienė) gave us food, Petras took the wedding ring of Zosia and put on the finger of Shoshana, put the horses and drove away with Shoshana towards Kražiai where she used to live. On their way the police outpost stopped them but Petras convinced the policemen that Shoshana was his wife and they were let go. This is how Petras Meškauskas returned her to her hiding place close to Kražiai. I turned the other way and escaped on my own.
3. During the entire war, the house of the Meškauskas family was open to Jews who needed food and shelter for the night. The Meškauskas family helped as much as they could. Hirsh Chalozin, Yakov Zak, Sima Chalozin, Chaviva Chalozin and I Shmuel Chalozin would always find shelter at their house. The support was provided not only by one family member, like in other families, but by the entire family: the father, mother, brothers, sisters and sister-in-law Zosė. Helping Jews was the attitude of the father, which everyone supported.
The help was based on:
1. the brotherhood of the farmers;
2. love for your neighbour;
3. resistance to killings – as they could not come to terms with the fact that the Lithuanian police was killing Jews, citizens of Lithuania.
For this support the Meškauskas family received no remuneration. They could have faced death and confiscation of their property. Therefore, I am deeply convinced, that this family is worth the name of the Righteous Among the Nations. For me they have been Righteous Among the Nations since 1941.

This is my testimony.

Ramat-Gan, Israel,
April 2006

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