Rescuers of Jews

Buknys Raimondas

From Jakov Gurvitch‘s Memoirs „The Road of Salvation for the Condemned”

<...> While I was at the Niunava family, I found out that quite close in Užpelkiai village there was a very good man named Buknys. I heard a number of times that he helped to hide the Jews. I do not remember exactly how I got to know his son Danius, he was the same age as me, but I remember well that in the middle of October 1942 he went to the Niunava family, found me and took me to his farmstead in Užpelkiai village.
I felt really good at the Buknys family. The farm was surrounded by a forest, and strangers rarely used to come by there. The entire Bukniai family, which included father Raimondas, mother Stasė and children Genė and Danius,was very friendly. This place was ideal for hiding. I lived there freely and helped them with the farm work, and they would introduce me as their relative. I lived there during November, December and January of 1943.
The Buknys family and some other neighbours had a hiding place in the forest where four Jewish girls were hiding. The neighbours used to bring them food. Sometimes I would bring them food as well. I used to see the hiding girls, and on Saturdays they would come to the village baths of the Buknys family.
All four girls survived and after the liberation went to Palestine.
I could have lived happily at the Buknys family if not for one accident.
One afternoon I was sitting in the kitchen next to the oven and cleaning a gun. I used to carry the gun with me all the time, as I had decided not to surrender alive. I do not remember the circumstances exactly as to how I managed to get this gun, I just know that it was left by the Russians. While cleaning the gun I lifted my head and saw through the window two uniform policemen coming. I threw the half dismantled gun in the oven, which at the time had no fire, and went to another room called an alkieriukas, took off the frame of the window and ran into the forest. Then I definitely broke all the running records. After some time I noticed that nobody was chasing me, but I stayed in the forest for a few hours, as I was afraid to go back to the Buknys family. I was walking until I heard the voice of the head of the household and his son: “Where could he be? Where could he have escaped to?” They told me that the policemen came by accident and wanted to have a drink. They had not even suspected that somebody was hiding there, and when they came in, they noticed that the window was open and realised that somebody had just escaped through it. They asked Buknys who it was. The Buknys family explained that it was a poacher. They did not hunt me, but after this event I could no longer stay with the Buknys family – I did not sleep in the house, so I went to sleep in the shed. Upon my request Buknys harnessed the horse, put me into the sleigh and took me to Telšiai to the Vaičekauskai family where my mother was hiding at the time.<...>

From the 4th book Hands Bringing Life and Bread
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum

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