Rescuers of Jews

Dautartas Juozapas

The writer Dautartas remembers:

One night a Jew, having escaped from the ghetto, came to our place. We knew him: he was a physician who had studied in France, and had been doing well. However, he lost everything when Lithuania was invaded by the Germans. He asked for help. In the city was his first-born two-year-old daughter. She was ill, weak and would not survive if we did not accept her.
I remember those horrible days, weeks, months and that year, when a little adoptee appeared in our family. “God did not give us a girl, so now we shall raise her,” my mother told our neighbours, relatives and the whole village. As soon as my brother had brought her from the city, on the same day my father made her a wicker cot from willow cut at the riverside. The village people had much to say about my parents: they did not care about their own child; look at her dark skin and her big eyes; even a fool can see that she is Jewish. People whispered and reasoned, but no one reported the case to the authorities of the district. And that poor little Jewish girl, dear me, was hardly alive. Her small body was covered with boils from hunger and disease. At night she cried, and calmed down only when she collapsed. My father and mother merely implored God’s help and washed and washed the girl’s wounds with camomile tea and rubbed them with salt-free butter. One night, when the girl seemed to be fading away, they decided to baptise her. Both prayed as hard as they could and performed the christening service.
Thus a little Christian by the name of Bronytė appeared in our home. When the doctor learned about the baptism, he sighed deeply, dropped his head and said silently after a while: “There is only one thing I want: I want her to live...” She lived, grew, called my father her grandpa and my mother her mummy. Whenever a truck with German soldiers happened to roll up in the village, I would take Bronytė in my arms and carried her into the osier-bed at the riverside, just to be on the safe side.
The war was not yet over, it was still raging in East Prussia, when unexpectedly the doctor and his wife quite openly entered our yard. The palour of their faces, having hidden from the sun for a long time, was obvious. Their eyes, however, were bright with excitement and happiness: they had survived and their firstborn was alive. “Bronytė, this is your real daddy and your real mummy,” said my mother, introducing the girl to the guests. The girl somehow crouched down and started cuddling up to my mother, and alarm crept over her child’s face. “No, you are my mummy,” she said, and started crying. Tears filled the eyes of the doctor, his wife, and all of us that warm summer afternoon...
After the war, the doctor often visited us in the countryside. He liked to talk with my parents, and helped them as much as he could. However, those good times did not last long. One July day my father died suddenly, and after several months my mother passed away, too. My parents’ deaths left deep scars in my heart. However, I do not feel lonely. By my side is the doctor, his wife and Bronytė, now called Brocha-Ariela.
When they left for Israel, the Abramovich gave me tokens of remembrance at Vilnius railway station and asked me to share them among our grown-up children and to tell them about the tragedy of the Jewish nation. Our children have known about friendship between families since childhood, and they are proud of their grandparents.

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