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Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History
Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Istorijos Muziejus

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THE ALLEY OF THE RIGHTEOUS: JELENA GRIGORJEVA AND IRINA OSTJANKO (GRIGORJEVA)

 
Published: 2020-10-27

 JELENA GRIGORJEVA

1 8 9 5 – 1 9 8 2
 
IRINA OSTJANKO (GRIGORJEVA)
1 9 26 – 2 0 1 8
 
When an acquaintance asked Jelena Grigorjeva to rescue a baby girl who was a few months’ old and who was a prisoner in the Vilna Ghetto, she could not refuse to help, but she was extremely surprised to see two baby girls in the pram that two women brought to her and pleaded with her to rescue both. Having consulted her fifteen-year-old daughter Irina, Jelena agreed to take both girls. This is how Ida Reiches’ daughter, Ira, and Lida Chonovich’s daughter, Tamara, ended up living in a flat on Kalvarijų Street. Jelena made sure the two girls had forged documents according to which their surname was Burak. The neighbours were told that the babies were the twin girls of Jelenas’ older daughter, Liusia, who had been taken away to Germany for hard labour. Jelena Grigorjeva and her daughter Irina took care of the girls as if they were their own children. Ida Reiches and Lida Chonovich managed to escape from the Ghetto and ran away to Belarus where they spent three years hiding with farmers that they knew from before. Lida Chonovich took her daughter back right after the war was over, whereas Ira Reiches was to stay with her rescuers for longer, because her mother Ida Reiches ended up in Poland after the end of the war. In 1948, she managed to leave for Israel through Germany. For many years Ida Reiches unsuccessfully tried to get back her daughter who was left behind in Soviet Lithuania. Finally, in 1957 she was allowed to visit her daughter in Vilnius and in 1961 Ira Reiches (Burak) was allowed to leave for Israel to live with her mother.
 
From: Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe
Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, Vilnius, 2019
 
 
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