Rescuers of Jews

Katerina MACIJAUSKIENĖ (1901–1989) Jonas Juozas MACIJAUSKAS (1897–1974)
Felicija MACIJAUSKIENĖ (1871–1949)
Germana MACIJAUSKAITĖ (1893–1965)

The Macijauskas family – Jonas Juozas Macijauskas, his wife Katerina, his sister Germana Macijauskaitė and Jonas’ mother Felicija Macijauskienė – lived in Pakievukai homestead, not far from Vaiguva, Kelmė District, and helped Jews during all years of war. Often they were asked to accept Jews by Jonas Macijauskas’ brother, Kolainiai dean Polikarpas Macijauskas, who was renowned for his good deeds in the entire neighbourhood. Chana Pelcaitė (later Zakienė) born in Telšiai hid in Macijauskas’ family, Pakievukai homestead, for four months. The girl was only 14, when her entire family was shot dead in the summer of 1941. Many more people found shelter with the family of Jonas and Katerina Macijauskas including Sara Olšvangaitė-Montvilienė (daughter of a shoemaker Saiva Olšvangas from Užventis), Michailas Gutmanas, doctor Dolnickis, etc.
From the speech of Jadvyga Jonušienė, daughter of Jonas and Katerina Macijauskas, given on 14 December 2005 in Jonas Jablonskis gymnasium in Kaunas, during the presentation of Jadvyga’s uncle, priest Polikarpas Macijauskas, with the award of the Righteous among the Nations:

When Lithuania regained its independence, my uncle Polikarpas Macijauskas (Maciejovskis) immersed himself in intense pedagogical and social work. In 1919, he was appointed a prefect of the Kaunas Polish Gymnasium. His former students remember the priest as a gifted educator, whose spiritual world was self-contained and not self-seeking. His activities were always focused on others.
As if aware of his demanding mission requiring dedication and love for his neighbours, my uncle wrote in his diary the words that would later become and integral part of his life: “Those who suffer much are chosen by God for big tasks. Yes, my God, I shall suffer rightly”.
When I remember my uncle today after so many years since I last saw him, I can perceive more clearly his real and strong experience of spiritual life. This experience helped him endure the appointment to work in a remote Kolainiai parish, where all that he found was a crumbling church and fading Catholicism. Here, the spirit of priest Polikarpas was always watchful, ready to offer help and support, to save, while raising high standards for itself.
Although my uncle could have been crushed by many hardships – the World War II, the Nazi occupation and later the exile of his brother’s family to Siberia, he wrote in his notes: “I am like a man travelling across snowbound mountains, who wishes to take a rest all the time, but has to beware of falling asleep forever in this state”.
Snow did not numb Polikarpas Macijauskas’ spirit that was always radiating kindness. The brightest spark of this kindness was rescuing the Jews in mortal danger – this task was accomplished in cooperation with doctor Girbudas and with the help of the family of my father Jonas.
In the memory of Shmuel Chalozin, Sara Olšvangaitė, Chana Zakienė and others, priest Polikarpas Macijauskas remains as a benefactor and a father. This is what he was to his brother’s family too – to us, blown to the wilderness of Siberia.
He did not want to acknowledge his otherness and uniqueness and tried to conceal it under his daily cassock and the most mundane tasks, work and austere life.
The life of priest Polikarpas Macijauskas that was severed exactly 40 years ago has been shrouded in oblivion for a long time – as if uncle had taken the key to his life with him. The loved ones of priest Polikarpas Macijauskas were deeply touched by the outstanding award of the Righteous Among the Nations and now we have a hope that his name will not drown in the sea of oblivion.
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