When I created grove to honor the Righteous Gentiles of Vilkaviskis I never thought I would meet one of them, and now to hear her story.
At the Holocaust Memorial ceremony this year a met a wonderful elderly ladyAldona Norvaišaityte-Radzevičienė
Here is her story as it appeared this week in the Vilkaviskis newspaper Santaka – thank you Kristina.
“Hiding the Jews, she lived in fear for three years”
By Kristina ŽALNIERUKYNAITĖ
Aldona Norvaišaityte-Radzevičienė celebrated her 92nd birthday this year, but she still remembers the terrible 1941-1944, when the Vilkaviškis region was occupied by the Germans. Then her family had to live in constant fear because the family were hiding Jews in their home for all three years.
Aldona, who lives in Kaunas with her daughter Audronė Maižiešienė, was born and raised in Smilgiai village, Pilviškės eldership. When the war broke out, she was a teenager. A small family of three people from Norvaišaičiai was living in a remote farmstead, living modestly, with only 56 acres of land
That fateful 1941 On the morning of the end of September, at the end of the third month of German occupation, Aldona’s father Juozas went to see the fields. At night it rained heavily and the farmer feared that his crops would not be covered.
Going through the barracks towards his lands, Juozas met a man who was completely exhausted. It was Alter Kirkilovsky who lived in Pilviškiai. It turned out that another 4 Jews, who had escaped from the Vilkaviškis ghetto, were hiding in the bushes just before their liquidation, during which all their other residents were killed. Refugees were so lean and exhausted, torn and hungry that they could no longer go anywhere without the help of other people. The Jews begged the farmer to either feed them or give them to the Gestapo.
Refugees received more than just food
While reporting on these events, A. Norvaišaitytė-Radzevičienė could not hold back tears. She remembers Dad running back home and asking Mom what to do. Uršulė Norvaišaitienė, who had been thinking for a while, said that she would take those people home, and she herself rushed to cook the bacon with cabbage. As Aldona said, at that time there were no products they wanted, people were eating what they had grown. So the Jews who were brought to the farm had to cut the cabbage fat, french fries, even though their religion forbids eating pork. In the struggle for survival, all measures were appropriate.
So, in September, five Jewish refugees, who had miraculously escaped the nails of death, were fed at Norvaišaičiai homestead: Alter Kirkilovsky, Chaim Chernevsky, as well as sisters Tsipa and Sheina Weberytes. The fifth Jew was named Kackel, but Aldona said his name was not remembered.
Refugees at Norvaišaitis received not only food, dry clothes, but also an overnight stay. The Jews spent all winter in the hiding place there.
Neighbors also helped hide
They left their shelter on dark nights to relieve stiff muscles. Winter was long and poor, because Norvaišai people had to share food with unexpected hosts. In the early spring, the sisters Weberytes went out to hide with the family of their familiar Schneiders, and they were also attracted by Kačkelis. Both men remained at Norvaišaitis. As they warmed up a bit, they went out into the woods to set up a bunker for themselves, but continued to get food from the Juozas family.
Alteris and Chaim Norvaišaitis have been in hiding for three years. Sometimes both men had to hide from other people because Joseph was suspected by the local police and constantly watched. The police knew he had helped the Jews and had been home by night, but he had not arrested Norvaišaitis because he had not been able to find any fugitives. Surrounding people helped not only with food but also when needed, hiding refugees from German eyes. Aldona listed the names of her neighbors Šeškaitis, Gerulaitis, Eidiki.
Jewish people – under the skirt
Many events have already been erased from Aldona’s memory, but she also remembers another neighbor, a wealthy farmer who kept coming to their house and shouting in a thin voice, “Give the Jews! Where did you hide? Then give Uršule Norvaišaitienė one hand, lifting up the skirts of the skirt and shouting that she had one hidden under the skirt – a neighbor could come and pick her up. Aldona, a teenager who had learned the same thing from her mother, was fired by the Gestapo police. Now it looks pretty comical, but then it was not funny, the feet, when they saw the uninvited guests spinning in the yard, were shaking with no laughter …
According to the archives of the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem, 1943. Juozas Norvaišaitis was deported to forced labor in Germany. Ursula and her daughter, Aldona, continued to help the Jews in the woods and, sometimes, to hide in their homes. These Jews included sisters Cile and Judith of Vilkaviskis and a young man called Savler. 1944 On August 17, when the Soviet army entered Vilkaviškis, the surviving Jews regained their freedom.
Recognize the righteousness of the nations of the world
After experiencing a real nightmare, people rejoiced. Not only the Jews themselves, but their rescuers, whose families were constantly threatened. Alter Kirkilovsky proposed to Aldona, who was sixteen, but she rejected the offer. The girl told a Jewish woman in her thirties that she had become a brother to her during that time, so there could be no marriage. Alter then settled in Kybartai, married a Lithuanian girl, had children and remained friends with her rescuers. Aldona is still there