rescuers of jews

Vasiliauskienė Marija


In late winter 1942, Moisejus Rozenbergas and his sister, Beile, came to the home of Marija and Ignas Vasiliauskai in Švitriūnai village, not far from Vilkaviškis, to ask for shelter. Although two Jewish women from the town of Virbaliai were already hiding in their house, the Vasiliauskai took the Rozenbergai in as well. Since Beile Rozenbergaitė spoke Lithuanian very well, even with a South High Lithuanian accent, the other members of the family were told that she was a new farmhand. Moisiejus Rozenbergas was of dark complexion, so he was hidden in the cellar or in the hay in the cattle-shed. By sheltering the Rozenbergai the Vasiliauskai were taking a huge risk – both youths had been born some five kilometers away and anyone could have recognized them.

Beilė Rozenbergaitė-Španjė remembers:

When the war began, my mother Franė Rozenbergienė and I were driven to the Vilkaviškis Ghetto. For some time I was taken from the ghetto to work. When the Lithuanians I knew told me that the ghetto had to be liquidated, I did not go back. The neighbour who was hiding my mother later denounced her to the police. My brother and I were hiding in the cattle-shed of somebody we knew, deep in the hay, and we only came out at night to eat. Each appearance outside was potentially deadly because we could have been seen. The winter was extremely cold, and the bread that we brought froze. As the hay was running short, we did not have anywhere else to hide. Then we thought of another neighbour, Ignas Vasiliauskas, who used to visit us at the beginning of the war, and who, we noticed, was not indifferent to our fate.
Now I can hardly imagine how we dared to ask him for such a sacrifice. Whether it was day or night our rescuers were never safe – when a dog barked, they had to go and see who was coming. They did not gain anything valuable from us because we came to them at night hungry and dirty.
Our relations with the rescuers were good and sincere both during the war and after it. They have always been the closest people to me since we no longer had any other relatives. After the war they supported me financially, and thanks to them I received a higher education.

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 2,
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Vilnius, 1999