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Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History
Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Istorijos Muziejus



Published: 2021-04-15


This is my son! He will bear my family name!
Jeronimas Bukontas
With palpating heart I think of those simple, bright and fearless people who, without loud speeches and complicated arguments, carried out the holy commandment of the Torah: loving their neighbour as themselves, they rescued a person from death. With endless love and gratitude I utter their names: Jeronimas Bukontas, Marija Bukontienė, Vaclovas Martinkus, Kotryna Šulcienė, Zenonas Šulcas, Elena Lauraitienė...
Alfonsas Bukontas
Famous Lithuanian poet Alfonsas Bukontas learned his real name only after he grew up: Mordechai Michnicky. When the war began, Alfonsas’ parents, dentist Nechama Gurvich-Michnicky and attorney Jankel Michnicky, ended up in the Kaunas Ghetto. His father was murdered at the IXth Fort in 1942 and his mother was sent to Stutthof Concentration Camp in 1944 where she perished. Alfonsas’ brother Azriel and his aunt Sheva were shot on the bank of the River Venta near Mažeikiai back in 1941.
Židikai parish priest Vaclovas Martinkus, Mažeikiai region farmers Marija and Jeronimas Bukontas and Marija’s sisters Kotryna and Elena, putting their lives and those of their families in danger, refused to hand the baby over to the local Nazis who were threatening them. Parish pries Martinkus baptised the baby Alfonsas and entered him in the book of christenings with the surname Bukontas. Jeronimas Bukontas stood firm on his decision: ‘This is my son! He will bear my family name!’ In 1945, the Soviets arrested and deported Jeronimas Bukontas and he died that same year in the forests around Arkhangelsk. His widow Marija Bukontienė dedicated her life to caring for and loving her son Alfonsas. Her sisters Elena and Kotryna also looked after him like mothers, and Alfonsas often thought they paid more attention and showed more tenderness to him than to their own children...
From: Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe
Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, Vilnius, 2019
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