rescuers of jews

Gaigalaitė Stefanija

Juzefa Gaigalienė and Stefanija Gaigalaitė-Prenskienė

In 1941, Juzefa Gaigalienė, (b. 1870) was living with Geitsin family in Kaunas, caring for their nine-month-old infant, Rachel. When the German-Soviet war broke out, the Geitsin family decided to leave and go east, and took the Lithuanian nurse with them. During their train-trip they suffered bombing. It caused a great turmoil, the passengers ran in different directions. When the train began to move again Juzefa Gaigalienė with Rachel were missing. They left the train and Juzefa decided to return to Kaunas.
When Juzefa with the girl reached Kaunas, at first, she planned to leave Rachel with her relatives in Kaunas. But watching the killing of Jews she changed her mind and took the girl to her native town Kaišiadorys. There her daughter Stefania Gaigalaitė-Prenskienė (b. 1900) lived with her husband Jonas Prenskus and three sons.
During all the period of Nazi occupation Juzefa Gaigalienė, her daughter Stefania and their family members took care about Rachel (she was called Elena).
The neighbors, who suspected Rachel was Jewish, said nothing to the authorities, but until the liberation, there was the constant danger that someone might inform on them. After the war, Rachel remained with the Gaigalienė family for another two years until her parents returned to Lithuania, in April 1947. Until her immigration to Israel, in the 1970s, Rachel Geitsin (by then Schmidt) stayed in touch with her rescuers.