Rescuers of Jews

“I did not hide Your truth in my heart. I preached Your truth and Your salvation”

Polikarpas MACIJAUSKAS (1891–1965)

In 1924, young and well-read Polikarpas Macijauskas (Maciejovskis) became the rector of the church and monastery of Kolainiai. Here he soon established close relations with the local people – both the Catholics and the Orthodox. The residents of Kolainiai recall his warm relations with the local Orthodox priest, Butas; they would always exchange Christmas or Easter wishes, even though these holidays are celebrated at different times by each of the denominations.
The war came although nobody was expecting it. On 7 October 1941, the first war victim knocked on the monastery's door – it was Basė Braudienė, a Jew from Kelmė. She found shelter there. Some time later the farmer Michailas Juškevičius brought another four women who had escaped from the Šiauliai Ghetto. Dressed in nun's clothes, the women freely walked in the parsonage garden. He hid many other Jews who he had saved with the help of Doctor Petras Girbudas and other honest people. Only the priest himself could recall the total number of the rescued.
Everybody had a share of his kindness. Jadvyga Šliogerienė from Kolainiai remembers: “I went to receive the Eucharist, I still have a photo with the priest. He was very gentle with us children. If he was going to visit a sick person, he would always take some apples for the patient to refresh the heart.”
Vincenta Šiušienė remembers how the priest helped to liberate her two brothers who had been arrested during the Nazi regime. Nobody had asked him to do this – he himself went to them, said a word for them, and thus saved the lives of two young people!..
Truth is the daughter of Time, as the old Roman saying goes. Time is needed to understand things, to assess a man or a phenomenon. To priest Polikarpas Macijauskas all were equal. When he could, he supported and saved. And it was not a Russian, a Jew, or a German – he hid a Human.
“I did not hide Your truth in my heart. I preached Your truth and Your salvation” – these words from a psalm, the credo of the priest's life, are hewn on a stone slab in the Kražiai church, the basement of which is the place of eternal rest for Polikarpas Macijauskas, a priest and master of theology.
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