Rescuers of Jews

Daugirda Romualdas

URŠULĖ BEINARAVIČIENĖ and her children

In October 1941, Uršulė Beinaravičienė had visitors – Leokadija and Vladislavas Opolskiai, her relatives from Simnas, had come over. They came with an urgent request – to shelter, for at least a few weeks, two residents of Simnas who had escaped the massacre. 'Auntie, please shelter them, we will come back for them as soon as we find a safe nook for them.' Everybody in the family heard this plea since they did not hide secrets from each other. Eight people lived in the house: Uršulė Beinoravičienė, her two married daughters Zofija and Elena and their teenage sons Romualdas and Bernardas, and Uršulė's youngest children Marytė, Jadvyga, and Vladislavas. Everybody agreed.
On a rainy October evening the Beinoravičiai had guests. That was how Borisas Belostockis and Dovydas Gamskis, two middle-aged men hiding from the Germans, came to be in their house.
And that was when the fearful, anxiety-filled days and sleepless nights began. The wards lived in a small room near the kitchen, and a hideout under the floor was prepared for an emergency.
“Our wards were educated, interesting people, and they would cry every time they remembered their perished families,” remembers Marytė Beinaravičiūtė. “They were also worried about the fate of our family, they were scared lest the Germans kill all of us.”
Marytė used to cook for everybody in the family – now she cooked for ten people. Pain and suffering united everybody, added strength to all. Only the uncertainty as to how long the hiding would last was oppressive. Borisas Belostockis had a weak heart, and constant fear and pain undermined his health. He eventually died. How and where to bury him so that nobody notices? Jadvyga Beinaravičiūtė dug a hole in the garden, near a young aspen. The deceased was washed, dressed, wrapped in a piece of cloth. A small towel – the only memento of the deceased man's mother – was placed under his head. Borisas Belostockis had sometimes put this towel round his neck – it seemed to him that his mother's hands embraced him. That was how he was buried. They did not make a grave and, in order not to raise suspicions, ploughed the ground. Only when times became more peaceful, forget-me-nots unfolded their blue flowers there.
Long days of expectation were passing by. The student Abelis Vainšteinas, his brother Josifas, and Nina-Lėja Portaitė would visit Dovydas Gamskis in this remote farmstead. When the war ended they went abroad, and Dovydas Gamskis returned to Simnas.
In November 1990 Borisas Belostockis' will was carried out: his remains were re-buried at the site of the massacre of Jews, in the common grave in the Kalesnikai grove near Sirnnas. The little aspen at the foot of B. Belostockis' original burial has during forty-eight years firmly embraced the body of the deceased, as if protecting his eternal rest and peace.
The children and grandchildren of Uršulė Beinaravičienė, who for decades had been looking after the grave and the great secret, came to bid the second farewell to their ward. At the site of the mass murders, they laid chrysanthemums on the freshly-made mound. Forget-me-nots still unfold every year beneath the old aspen in the corner of the Beinaravičiai garden.

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