Rescuers of Jews

Anastasija JUŠKEVIČIENĖ (1909–1994)
Michailas JUŠKEVIČIUS (1906–1981)

I left my horse in Lieporiai and walked to the men's ghetto. It was deserted, I realized that all the men had been shot. Then I walked to the women's ghetto. I waited until the guard went to the gate, then I helped four women of the Abramovich family to crawl through the barbed wire. To reach the cart, we had to walk across the town. We were overtaken by a German car which stopped very close to us. I thought they had tracked us down, but the Germans had just stopped to look in the car's engine, and drove away.
As we were approaching the Bubiai bridge, I was beginning to feel rather anxious since it was under fortified watch. The white-bands were searching every cart. Suddenly I saw naked men swimming near the bridge, jumping from the banks into the water. I told the women that as we crossed the bridge I would point to the men, and they were to laugh at them. They started laughing loudly. The guard looked at the swimming men and laughed, too. Meanwhile, I whipped the horses and thus we crossed the bridge.
At night the Abramovich women would sleep in the barn. In the daytime they used to hide in the forest, and children would take food to them there.
Early one morning a cart drove into the yard. The white bands jumped out of it and ran straight into the house. After finding nothing, they started shooting at the barn and set it on fire. They caught the women as they ran from it and lined us up against the wall to be shot. The barn was burning, sparks were falling on the roof of the house. I hit a white-band with all my might and ran to a nearby marsh. I rushed into the thickness of bushes covered in moss and fell among tree stumps. I heard voices, the sound of shooting. When everything went quiet I did not know whether I was really running and being shot at, or whether it was all a bad dream.
The Abramovich women were taken to the Užvenčiai guardroom where they were doomed for death. Doctor Petras Girbudas, who had made arrangements with the guard, helped rescue all of them. He hid the solicitor Abramovich family, and they all survived.
After the war we started corresponding with each other. A tragedy brings people closer than blood ties.

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