Rescuers of Jews

Michailova Jelizaveta

Elizaveta and Aleksey Michailov

The Mikhailov family lived in the town Pilviškis, Vilkaviškis county in Lithuania. They had their farm near the town and a butcher's shop. In 1938 their daughter Irina was born. Mikhailovs were familiar with many Jews of the town and even understood and could speak Yidish. Before the war there were about one thousand Jews in the town (from three thousands inhabitants).
The Jewish family Yodlovich was their neighbors, it contained: Meyer and Tsilya and their children: Mulia (Shmuel), born in 1930, Bella, born in 1932 and Simon, born in 1935.
On 23 June 1941 the Germans were already in Pilviškis. Tsilya’s sister Elke came from Vilkaviškis and told her about the shooting of Jewish men, including her husband, Jacob. The story seemed so improbable that local Jews did not believe her and became angry with Elke for spreading silly rumors. But close relatives believed her. Therefore, when local policemen began to get out Jewish men from their homes, ostensibly for a work, Meyer Yodlovich hid. Men were shot on August 29, 1941 in the woods, a mile from the town, after forcing them to dig two pits. The same day, Meyer Yodlovich moved to the neighbors Mikhailovs and hid under their barn. Later on he dug a pit under the barn, suitable for sitting inside it, not only for laying. and another pit for toilet.
On September 15 policemen began to gather women and children.
Knowing what to expect, Tsilya Yodlovich, her sister Elke and the children hid in the cellar of a peasant friend. Within two months after the shooting they were hiding at this friend's until their hiding place was found. Miraculously, they managed to escape from the policemen, to reach Mikhailovs and hide under the barn together with their father. The Yodlovich family has spent nearly three years in this shelter until the liberation of Pilviškis. These people suffered from cold and hunger, from lack of basic sanitation, fought with despair. Sometimes it seemed to them that they were the last Jews left in the world.
On September 22, 1942 Elke Voronovskaya died from disease and malnutrition. Alexey Mikhailov secretly buried her in his backyard.
Despite everything they had to go through, the Yodloviches and their rescuers lived with hope that the German army would be destroyed and they would reach the liberation.
On June 30, 1944 the Red Army entered the town and the next day five Jews came out crawling from the pit under Mikhailov's barn. During the first few hours they could not stand, the day-light blinded their eyes and they felt dizzy. People who met them that day, saw them as moving skeletons.
The Russian soldiers boarded them onto the vehicles and sent them farer from the front line.
After the war the Yodlovich family settled in Vilnius. Children have received higher education, created their own families. For years they kept in touch with their rescuers, Alexey Timofeyvich and Elizabeth Savelievna Mikhailov, the only people of Pilviškis who managed to save the lives of five Jews, despite the fear and difficulties.

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