Rescuers of Jews

Montvilienė Halina

From Jakov Gurvitch‘s Memoirs „The Road of Salvation for the Condemned”

The Johanson family decided to send me far away from this place to their friend, an Adventist named Montvila, who lived in Paragaudžiai village, 3 km north of Kvėdarna.
It was the end of October 1943. I was very well received by the Montvila family. They gave me a separate room, and I even stopped hiding. The Montvila family told everyone they knew that I am a son of their relatives, the Gudzinskas family (in reality they did not even know any Gudzinskas family). They said that the Gudzinskas family was deported to Siberia and that I escaped from a German forced labour camp. While living with the Montvila family I became friends with a civil servant named Mykolas Vitkevičius, and with his help with the birth certificate of Albinas Stasys Gudzinskas that I had, I received a passport with my real picture. In such a way in 1944 I became a legal resident of Kvėdarna. The only trouble was that I was circumcised.
While still studying in the gymnasium, the tutor of my class was a very pleasant woman, Mrs. Plechavičienė. Her husband Plechavičius worked as a surgeon at Telšiai Hospital. Her husband’s brother, General Povilas Plechavičius, was one of the most ardent enemies of the Soviet government. I think it was in 1942 I wrote a letter to my former teacher and asked her for help. She sent me some money and clothes (mine were all in tatters) and most importantly, I received a certificate which said that I had to be circumcised due to the inflammation that had developed. So I had all the documents and indeed I was not afraid anymore.
For a period I lived at the place of Pranas Jutkevičius in Grimzdai village, whose Jewish wife Amėlanaitė was shot by the Germans.
There were rumours in Kvėdarna that Jews were hiding somewhere. At the time I knew many Germans living in Kvėdarna. The Germans surrounded a farm where Jutkevičius lived. I went out on a horse. The irony of fate: the Germans asked me whether I knew any Jew in the village. I said that I lived there but that I knew no Jews. Nevertheless for the sake of caution I went out of the village on that day and when I was coming back in the evening I saw tired Germans. One of them said: “You were right, there are no Jews here”.
After this incident I rented a room at the place of other people. These people did not know I was a Jew and made dinner for me. While working in the Office of the Administrative District, I received money for each wedding and birth registration, so I could pay for my rent and food.
At the beginning of 1944 I discovered that one girl was nearby hiding from the Reich. I met Zofija, or Zoselė, and she became my wife. We have been together for 63 years.
In Kvėdarna there were rumours (maybe somebody spread them on purpose) that I was a son of Montvilienė born out of wedlock. Halina Montvilienė then was a quite young and strong woman, and her husband was some 25 years older than she was. The Montvila family knew the rumours and diplomatically kept quiet. For me it was a good cover-up, as I could go to the parties again. In 1944 at the beginning of July my new friend Mykolas Vitkevičius found out that there was a vacancy for the Head of the Registry Office in the Kvėdarna administrative district. They offered me this place. I knew Lithuanian and German quite well. Before the war I managed to complete three years at the reformed gymnasium. At the time there were 7 classes in the gymnasium in total.
The Montvila family did not welcome my decision to work in a public institution. They were afraid that I could be recognised as a Jew and end up in the hands of the murderers. However, I was young and full of courage, and in July 1944 I became the Head of Kvėdarna administrative district’s registry office...

From the 4th book Hands Bringing Life and Bread
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum

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