Rescuers of Jews

Butkevičienė Marija

Marija BUTKEVIČIENĖ

Like Dr. Gurvičienė and her two teenage daughters, Gurvičienė's sister's family – including two young children, a boy of six and a girl of four – also lived in the ghetto. The liquidation of children started there. The boy of Gurvičienė's sister died, while the girl was pushed into a larder and survived. It was necessary to take her from the ghetto as soon as possible because her brother's fate awaited her there. The family of Dr. Marija Butkevičienė agreed to take care of Noemi. She was carried from the ghetto in a potato sack. Noemi was too big to be induced to sleep, so her parents had to convince the girl to lie quietly, not to move, and not to cry. The family of Butkevičiai were surprised at the girl's endurance.
Thus Noemi found herself in Marija Butkevičienė's family.
The neighbours were told that little Nijolė was the daughter of a Lithuanian and a Georgian, a war orphan, who were fairly common in Lithuanian families. When the weather was bad, she would stay indoors and play quietly in the room. But when it got warmer and the neighbours' children started playing outside, the girl would stand at the window, watch them, and cry. Her guardians had to limit her play to the garden, having strictly forbidden her to go to the street. Otherwise Noemi was an obedient and patient child. When asked what she would like to eat, she would always answer, “Whatever you give me, anything would be good.” Obviously her parents had told her to do so.
Marija Butkevičienė never made acquaintance with Noemi-Nijolė's parents – they perished in the ghetto. Since then Noemi has grown up, and her frequent letters from Israel are received by her rescuer's family.

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