Taubė Jankelevičiūtė-Kaplanienė and Dovydas Kaplanas
Taubė Jankelevičiūtė, daughter of a teacher, graduated from Tauragė Hebrew Gymnasium in 1941 and was planning to study pharmacy in the Medical Faculty of Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University.
On the first days of the war, Taubė’s father Preidelis Jankelevičius and elder brother Simonas were taken away by Nazis and ‘white armbands’ in an unknown direction and she never heard about them again. She herself, her mother Lėja, her grandmother Roza, her brother Šmuelis and her sister Joheved were transferred from Laukuva to a camp in Geruliai.
Taubė was then moved to the Telšiai Ghetto. She was left without the family and was sheltered by doctors Mausha and Miriam Blat. They accepted her to work as a nurse and their assistant in their dispensary, while at home she helped to look after their daughter Liba.
Taubė did not look like a Jew, so sometimes she would hide her yellow star under clothes and would walk around the town freely. She would come to a pharmacy for medicine and had acquaintances there.
She escaped through a hole in the fence and met Juozas Straupis just out of the town, who took her to Šarnelė village, where Juozas with his wife Bronislova and three kids – Birutė, Jadvyga and Juozas – lived. Since then, she was called Vanda Pociūtė – a far relative of the farmers. When Juozas Straupis brought the family of the doctors Miriam and Mausha Blat from the ghetto and doctor Dovydas Kaplanas with his sister Malka, they all had to hide in the henhouse.
From the memoirs of Dovydas Kaplanas:
When we left the town, Juozas Straupis said to me: “Now we will be kith and kin.” He told me about the people he had saved. I was the last one because there were no more people left in the ghetto. He could not sit still while there were people there. Now he had to take care of all the refugees. He counted a total of 25 people. When I said that I had no property to pay for my sustenance, he replied without hesitation: “I don’t need any payment. I just want to save people from death.” /.../ It was extremely difficult to take care of six adults in hiding. In this noble quest, Straupis was selflessly assisted by his wife Bronislova. She would cook for 20 people, /.../, she would do their laundry and provide them with everything that they needed to survive.
For three and a half year we were hidden by Straupis from the eyes of strangers and courageously took on all risks. Their patience was inexhaustible. There were different problems, there was even a search carried out, but they would always find a way out. They would change hideouts and assured their neighbours that the rumours about hidden people had no substance.
When the Red Army came to Lithuania and the war ended, Dovydas Kaplanas settled in Telšiai and married Taubė Jankelevičiūtė in May 1945 with whom he hid. Dovydas and Taubė Kaplanas and their daughter Lilija maintained and still are maintaining close family relationships with the Straupis.