Rescued Jewish Children

Kazys ŽUKAUSKAS (1910–1995)

The entire Jewish population of the town Veisejai had to be relocated to Katkiškė on September 15, 1941. On the eve of this day Saulius Kuklianskis, Veisiejai pharmacist, and his three children – Moshe, Ana and Samuelis – encouraged by Karolis Jarmala, ran away from their hometown. With the situation in Lithuanian becoming threatening and complicated, Saulius Kuklianskis decided to keep Karolis Jarmala and his family away from risk and try to find refuge in the territory of former Poland. The Kuklianskis family headed south, travelling at night time, following minor roads and crossing forests.

From the memoirs of Moshe Kuklianskis:

<...> In the evenings or nights we would knock on the windows of remote houses asking for directions or food. Reactions ranged from indifference to compassion and tears for our situation. We did not face open hatred or refusal to help, but neither were we offered shelter for at least a day or additional advice. We were forced to leave Lithuania.
One night, about five or six days since the beginning of our journey, we approached the Lithuanian-Polish border which followed the Nemunas River. It was too dark for us to see anything or make decisions on where to go next. At dawn, we found ourselves near a farmstead with the owners already up and working in the yard. We addressed them. They were the Burbuliavičius family from Sventijanskas village. They treated us to warm fresh milk and bread and explained how to find an unguarded bridge across the Nemunas River, which was located just beyond the adjacent Bugieda village. Although the sun had already risen, we followed their directions along a path across the fields between the Nemunas River on one side and Bugieda village on the other. All of a sudden a young man caught up with us running and said he would ferry us across the river. He carefully but firmly took my little sister by hand and hastened us to follow him. With our help, he got a boat and an oar from under a house which stood close to the river, lowered it into the water, got us in the boat, deftly rowed us to the other bank, said a couple of encouraging and uplifting words, bid us farewell and rushed back across the river. We barely managed to ask his name. “Kaziukas,” he modestly replied poling himself away from the bank with an oar.

The angel was Kazys Žukauskas from Bugieda village. He saw us walking, recognised who we were and realised that we were going to cross the bridge. Knowing that several people in the village could harm us before we reach the bridge, aware of military guards on the bridge and seeing a potential disaster, he decided to risk his life in attempting to save the lives of others by quickly ferrying us across the river. <...>
In 1943, when Saulius Kuklianskis and his children – Moshe, Ana and Samuelis – escaped from the liquidated Grodno Ghetto, returned to Lithuania and went into hiding in the forests near the Baltoji Ančia River, Kazys Žukauskas found them and provided them with unforgettable moral and material aid. Whereas the Kuklianskis family members’ clothes had already turned into rags, Kazys himself tailored homemade linen shirts for the Kuklianskis men and a dress for Ana Kuklianskytė thus exhilarating the family living in the forest pits.

In 2008, Kazys Žukauskas was titled the Righteous Among the Nations.

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