Rescuers of Jews

Bielskienė Zosė

Aleksandras BIELSKIS

They looked after the family of Yecheskel Fliesher who was imprisoned in the Šiauliai ghetto.
Before the war, Aleksandras Bielskis lived in Kuršėnai and worked as a bootmaker. He was on friendly terms with the family of his co-worker Yecheskel Fliesher.
When the war broke out, Bielskis’ family hid with acquaintances, while Yecheskel Fliesher and his wife tried to escape by bicycle to Russia. Unfortunately, they managed to cover a distance of some 50 kilometres before they were both arrested by activists. The wife was killed, and Fliesher was put in prison in Šiauliai. There were 800 prisoners, of whom only 142 survived. The others were shot in the town of Kužiai. Yecheskel Fliesher was one of the 30 strong young men who were selected for pit digging.
After the killings the survivors were placed in the ghetto. Yecheskel, as a bootmaker, had to work at the former Frenkelis factory, then called Factory No 5. Meanwhile, Bielskis settled in Šiauliai and again met Fliesher at the same workplace. In the ghetto Yecheskel married for the second time. Sometimes he managed to separate from the column of prisoners returning to the ghetto and get to Bielskis’ place. There he spent the whole night listening to the news on the radio. In the morning he returned to work and informed his friends about the situation at the front line. Of particular value was the food the Bielskis used to give the prisoner. In the ghetto they were each given 190 grams of bread. From the sandwich that Zosė Bielskienė gave him, his sister Batya prepared lunch for five people, for Yecheskel, his wife Leya, Batya herself, and her husband and daughter. When leaving the ghetto was forbidden and everybody went hungry, the Bielskis passed food through the fence.
In 1943, with Bielskis’ help, Leya Fliesher made contact with acquaintances in Telšiai who had saved her from being shot, and again asked for shelter since there was a danger of the ghetto being liquidated. The farmer Liškus arrived in Šiauliai in a cart and took Yecheskel and his wife secretly to Telšiai. Liškus either hid the escapees himself or found other hiding places. Once when it was dangerous for them to be in the house, he drove his goats out of a shed and hid Yecheskel and Leya there. Flieshers stayed with the Liškus family until the liberation.
Some years ago, Yecheskel Fliesher came to Lithuania from far-off Israel. He visited Zosė Bielskienė’s grave and spent five days with Aleksandras, who was then 90 years old. The two had much to talk and reminisce about...
Aleksandras Bielskis can often be seen in the Šiauliai Jewish community centre. He goes there to meet people and to catch up on news. The community has a small museum, in which, among the views of the prewar city, the portraits of war veterans and ghetto prisoners, there is a picture of President Valdas Adamkus conferring on him the Life Saviour’s Cross. He corresponds with the Yecheskel Fliesher, and he also looks after the grave of Doctor Epshteinas, Leya’s first husband.

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 3,
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Vilnius, 2005
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