New Project for Jewish Vilkaviskis in 2020

I would like to tell you about the new project for Jewish Vilkaviskis for 2020.

Although I tried to contact everyone personally – perhaps you did not get this.

Earlier this year the Director of the Visual Archives at the Diaspora Museum Mr. Haim Ghiuzeli, gave me access to the entire archives of pictures of Jewish Vilkaviskis.
These pictures will appear later at the site http://www.jewishvilkaviskis.org
Some of these pictures showed Jewish volunteer firemen from Vilkaviskis.
Together with our friends in Vilkaviskis we discussed how to best bring these pictures to be seen in Vilkaviskis today. Our desire is to create an exhibition dedicated both to the Jewish volunteer firemen of Vilkaviskis and to show a little of Jewish life before the Holocaust. The pictures will include text in 3 languages, English, Lithuanian and Hebrew.
Our dear friend Mrs. Irma Mauriene discovered that the original fire station still exists [today it is an electrical goods store] gained permission both from the owners and the Municipality to create a photographically exhibition on 3 of the unused external walls.
All the pictures are the property of the Diaspora Museum but Haim suggested that I write to you and ensure that if your ancestors appeared in these pictures, you are agreeable to their use.
Included in this mail are pictures of how the project will look and the pictures we desire to use.
You can contact me or Haim [haim@bh.org.il ]
With kindest and warmest regards and best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful Hanukkah

Ralph

It has been 78 years !

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

Russia: New downloadable tourist guide to Jewish Kaliningrad (Königsberg) — a walking tour

My dear friends Ruth and Michael Leiserowitz have done incredible work in restoring the Jewish History of Königsberg and indeed the Jewish heritage of what used to be East Prussia.Kaliningrad2

Today read about their walking tour of Jewish Königsberg  at https://jewish-heritage-europe.eu/2019/11/07/russia-new-tourist-guide-to-jewish-kaliningrad-konigsberg/?fbclid=IwAR3tXKEEuajM4k60cus6Slh5bxRttXP9rsHpqmbyX8RAeyzfWF32eK86g9o

images

          Please visit their site https://jewsineastprussia.dehttps://www.facebook.com/Jewsineastprussia/

and their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Jewsineastprussia/

 

 

 

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Commemorating Holocaust Day in Vilkaviskis September 2019

Below is the English text of the composition created by the Vilkaviskis teacher Mrs. Vaida Kriščiūnienė. I trust that like me you will find this a very moving document.

Composition “Counted Stars”

Commemoration Day of Victims of Genocide in Lithuania (September 23)

Composer Vaida Kriščiūnienė

Background music  : Introduction; SCHINDLER’S LIST

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWrt0m-cOkU

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At this point, the students step forward.

Two young people are talking

?- What’s next

– Then we buy a dog and get married

–           ? And after

– Let’s build a house and have children

–           ?And after

– I know what will happen to after  sooner or later. Then there will be a pogrom. Then the barber will shave the men, the women will be raped and the children will be killed the. Here’s such a traditionally inevitable European pogrom]]

?- So why did we come back, why did we voluntarily go under the knife, , under the boot

– For one reason: we just had nowhere to go except for that PASSPORT, PASSPORT, PASSPORT …

The sounds of gunshots in the distance are heard. The girl and the boy move away from each other, waving  a hand, waving goodbye.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWrt0m-cOkU

There are 2 girls (daughter and mother) coming to the front. They chat, collect the dolls, Rachel, lay down in the stroller and close your eyes.

The city has not yet woken. We will still be able to leave. No one will see us

Morning is coming  the blue bluebells are flowering  and a dog is leaping . Gather me, Rachel, from the horns of the bridle,

Right now, I didn’t wake up – you stayed asleep, baby

,You stayed, only you stayed ……….

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWrt0m-cOkU

..Students come to the front.

Why did you sell me for 30 silver? (together)

Didn’t we eat one slice?

Didn’t we drink from one pitcher?

We were just ordinary people and now we are just numbers!

SELL, SELL, SELL … (all together)

Why did you sell me for thirty pieces of silver? (together)

Is your heart black like tar?

Do the stinging snakes on your lips burn?

Are your hands colder than everlasting ice?

Why did you sell me for thirty pieces of silver? (together)

And standing you are not like a man

Desperate to lay on the ground and fire

And the words fall – dark as the earth,

And heavy as earth…

Why did you sell me for thirty pieces of silver? (together)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWrt0m-cOkU

Reading deleted from the book “Saved in a Potato Bag”

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Smuggled in Potato Sacks
Edited by Solomon Abramovich and Yakov Zilberg
Smuggled in Potato Sacks is a collection of stories compiled by Holocaust survivors Ariela Abramovich Sef and Ilana Kamber-Ash, both born in the Kovno Ghetto and hidden during the Holocaust. Inspired to preserve their own stories as well as those of other children who had been rescued, they collected as many testimonies as they could find, and in the end, put together this book with fifty stories of hidden children from the Kovno Ghetto.

 

I’m Kama Ginko. I remember my mom saying that when I was six weeks old, Hitler came to kill me.

Hitler killed 6 million Jews. 35,000 of them are buried at Kaunas IX Fort. Hitler killed grandmother Lizzie, grandfather Abraham, uncle Chess. But he failed to kill me even though I was only six weeks old. I live so far … grateful to the people who saved me …

I’m Yakov Taft. I remember my parents telling them that my grandparents were burnt alive in front of the Great Campaign. My parents saw that horror and couldn’t help. I was very sick. We did not expect help from anywhere.

The Great Campaign began – we were sent to die, and then my mother turned to a German officer to beg her to take care of the dying child. Apparently, the prayers affected the German and he pushed his mother towards the survivors. It’s hard to understand, but a German who condemned us to death gave us a second chance to live.

I’m Ada Feldstein. My parents told me I was a baby when World War II began. Only later, while living in the ghetto, do I remember how poor our lives were, I barely died from pneumonia. During the Children’s Action, I was asleep and hidden in a hiding place. I was cared for by the nuns of Pažaislis Monastery. So I got a second chance to survive …

I’m Volodia Kac. I was secretly taken out of the ghetto suitcase. I was accepted by the priest. When I was in danger, I was handed over to Doctor Baubli, who rescued many Jewish children under the direction of an orphanage. I bow my head against this wonderful man …

History is history –

Not dry yellows, not marbles,

History is inscribed in the human heart-

Her memory, her hope,

All betrayals, triumphs, crowns, echoes, conclaves, hangman’s arm tag –

Everything in the tiny, infinite human heart,

To the heart that beats under your palm.

pray the names of the people who hid and rescued Jewish children during the fascist occupation.

As a prayer, I speak the names of those people, familiar or unfamiliar, ever seen or never seen, who, in all of Lithuania, cities and towns, villages and churches, in spite of brutal terror, saved the condemned to die.

As a prayer, I repeat the names of the people who, in various European countries affected by the brown plague, have extended the hand of help and friendship, the life and bread-carrying hand of those who were to be destroyed spiritually and physically.

We will never forget. Not only out of gratitude, but also out of responsibility