rescuers of jews

Sutkienė Cecilija

Antanas ŠIMKUS

Kazimieras SUTKUS

Zipora Kochen (nee Zaks, 1920) and her cousin Frieda Shtrom (nee Niselevich, 1918) were both from Vaiguva. From September 1941 they were prisoners of the Telšiai Ghetto. On the eve of it’s liquidation, in December 1941, they both run away and were accepted in Šiauliai Ghetto. At the beginning of July 1944 Zipora and Frieda secretely left the Šiauliai Ghetto and found shelter at Mr. Šimkus’s house in Šiauliai. After 2 days the host sent the Jewish refugees to his brother Antanas Šimkus who lived with his wife Vlada and 7 children in Užgiriai village, 50 km from Šiauliai. Although very poor, the Šimkus shared all they had with Zipora and Frieda and endangered themselves hiding the Jewish women in the attic or in the barn. Once in a while, at night, Zipora and her cousin could leave their hiding place, change clothes and wash themselves in the house. On one occasion a search was made at the Šimkus and although the Jews were not found, the rescuers thought it is a bad sign, it means that someone is suspecting them in helping Jews. So Zipora and Frieda had to leave. They made their way to Sutkus family who lived not far from Vaiguva and was well known to Frieda before the war. When Cecilija Sutkiene saw them she could not believe her eyes, since the Jews were not any more in the area from Summer 1941. The Sutkus hid the Jewish women in the attic, and kept their presence secret even from their 4 little children. Here they stayed until the liberation in mid October 1944. Right after the war the rescued left Lithuania and after some time reached Israel. They exchanged some letters with the Sutkus while it was possible until the Soviet iron curtain stopped their contacts. In the 70-es Zipora found Vlada Šimkienė, who was back from the exile in Siberia where her husband died in 1951. Vlada lived in Kelme until her death in 1992. The rescued both live in Tel Aviv, Israel. They both are the only survivors of their families.