Rescuers of Jews

Mošinskienė-Didžiulytė Halina

Halina MOŠINSKIENĖ I met and got acquainted with the family of Halina and Algirdas Mošinskiai in Sao Paolo, Brazil. At first glance A. Mošinskis reminded me of a patron of the opera – a checkered jacket, bow-tie, and chain-smoking the longest possible cigarettes. He was proud to talk about his wife, Halina. Her grandmother, Liudvika Didžiulienė-Žmona, was a writer; she disseminated the Lithuanian literature banned by the Tsarist authorities and supported Lithuanian students abroad... Her grandfather, Stanislovas Didžiulis, belonged to the Aušra movement; he was a figure of national revival, a Siberian exile. Her father, Antanas Didžiulis, was a highly respected doctor. Halina had studied French at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, and she taught at secondary schools (gymnasiums) in Kaunas and Panevėžys. In 1947 she and her husband went to Brazil. There she headed a literary club within the Lithuanian community, she wrote novellas and reviews, translated. Most likely her family genes determined her resolution to defend human freedom and dignity under any circumstances. That is why she hid Lithuanian Jews from the Nazi terror that is why she chose the life of an exile. A. Mošinskis wrote about the years during the war: “ ...Our house was brimming with Jews, escapees from the ghetto. The word “brimming” might be a slight exaggeration, but I remember at least three persons the solicitor Sonia Ginkaitė, dressed in country woman's clothes and provided with a Lithuanian passport, pretending to be our maid; her brother, Doctor Ginkas; and the third was Mrs. Beba Taborysky (by her husband's name), who used to sleep in our house.” One day the former doctor of the Lithuanian army, Patas – he was a German – felt he belonged to a higher race and demanded that the Mošinskiai vacate their flat and leave all their effects behind. “I was sorry to leave my rich library about 1000 volumes of valuable works in art history.” As advised by his friends, A. Mošinskis invited a high-ranking German, baron Vent von Ropp (a descendant of landowners in Radviliškis), who, at the time, was the aide-de-camp of T.A. von Renteln, the General commissar in Lithuania. The baron merrily described how they had set a hospital on fire, how the Jewish nurses had carried the previously confined women and their newborns out on stretchers, and how the Germans had swept them all with the fire of machine-guns. Sonia Ginkaitė was serving food. Hearing the story of the SS officer, she started losing her nerves. “When my wife saw it”, remembers A. Mošinskis, “she asked her to stay in the kitchen and started serving us instead. Even today shivers run down my spine when I recall that day, when a murderer and several ghetto escapees were in our house at the same time. Even today I cannot help wondering about my wife's cool-headedness and self-control. Obviously she deserved that medal from Israel.” In 1983 Algirdas and Halina Mošinskiai were invited to Israel. Here Halina met Beba Taborysky whom she had saved during those horrid years of the war. Halina and her husband visited the Yad Vashem Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. Halina planted a tiny pine tree in the Avenue of the Righteous on Mount Herzl. Next to it there is a small metal tablet with the inscription “Halina Mošinskis Lithuania”. At the time, hers was the 16th Lithuanian tree in this avenue. In the hall of the museum, H. Mošinskienė was awarded the Certificate of the Righteous Among the Nations of the World in French and Hebrew, and a medal bearing the inscription: “To Halina Mošinskis – from the grateful Jewish nation”. Elated, Halina accepted the award with a short speech of gratitude, ending it with the words of her grandmother Liudvika Didžiulienė-Žmona: “I am glad when I can wipe the tears for at least a single person. It is not much; it is like a drop in the sea. But if each of us wiped the tears of at least one unfortunate person, Life would become easier.”

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