Rescuers of Jews

Kalendraitė-Surkienė Viktorija

Andrejus and Monika Kalendra, and their daughters Viktorija, Morta, Zofija and Nijolė

Ira (Icikas) Gordimer lived in Papilė and was a blacksmith; the family owned a hardware store. In 1937 the family moved to Šiauliai. After the Germans entered Šiauliai in June 1941, the family was forced to move into Šiauliai Ghetto. On November 5, 1943 there was a Children’s Action carried out in the ghetto. Ira’s son Jona Gordimer and his brother Sholom were hidden in a cellar, where they stayed for 3 days. During those days Iracontacted Andrejus Kalendra. Kalendra owned a farm near Žarėnai and was a regular customer of Yitzik’s store. Ira knew Kalendra very well and trusted him. Andrejus Kalendra was well known in the area and respected by everybody. After Ira spoke with Kalendra, the latter organized a rescue operation and involved his relatives and friends in it. Sholom was taken out of the ghetto in a potato sack and was transported to Kalendra’s farm. There he was introduced as a refugee from Russia. Sholom stayed at the farm from November 1943 until the summer of 1945. Andrejus and Monika Kalendra had 5 daughters: Viktorija, Morta, Sofija, Nijolė and Ana. In 1951 Andrejus Kalendra, his wife Monika and daughter Morta were deported to Siberia. Andrejus died there, but his wife and daughter eventually returned to Lithuania.
The same morning when Sholom was taken to Kalendra’s farm, Jona was taken to the house of Antanas Plekavičius, who transported Jona and his parents to the farm of Steponas and Marijona Garbačiauskas. Marijona was Kalendra’s sister. The Garbačiauskas family had 5 children of their own: Steponas, Marytė, Stanislovas, Adolfina and Onutė.
After staying at the Garbačiauskas family for 3 weeks, the family went to the Vaškys farm. They were a young couple and good friends of Andrejus Kalendra. Jona Gordimer stayed at the Vaškys farm until the end of 1943 and his parents were hiding there until the end of the war. On July 29, 1945 the Vaškys were killed by the Russians after Augustus Vaškys refused to be drafted to the Russian army. Their 1-year old son was raised by Zelma Vaškytė, Augustas’ sister.
At the end of December 1943 Jona was taken to Zelma Vaškytė’s farm. He was introduced as a refugee from Latvia, because Zelma was Latvian. Jona remained at the farm until August 1944. After the war Zelma was deported to Siberia and spent 10 years there. She came back to Lithuania and died in 1991.
In August 1944 Jona was transferred to the farm of the Plekavičius family. Antanas Plekavičius was a good friend of Anriejus Kalendra.The family had two daughters. The Gordimers took their sons from the Plekavičius family in 1945.
After the war in 1945 Gordimer left Lithuania for the USA.
In 1947 when the Garbačiauskas heard about the story with the Kalendra family, they escaped from their home and split among their friends and this way they managed to avoid exile to Siberia.
In the 90-ies George (Jona) Gordimer was in letter correspondence with the 3 girls of the Kalendra family, with the son of Garbačiauskas and with the daughter of Plekavičius.

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