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Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History
Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Istorijos Muziejus



Published: 2022-03-15


I don’t know where his grave is, –
Perhaps my grandfather is buried
In the gigantic sarcophagus
Of twentieth-century martyrs?!
Or perhaps his soul
Each morning with the sun
Awakens hope in us
Marija Macijauskienė dedicates
these words to her grandfather
Vytautas Žakavičius
Dr Vytautas Žakavičius lived and worked in Pakalniškiai village, Šakiai region. During the Nazi occupation he actively aided Jews: in the autumn of 1943 he hid the family of Dr Matusevich brought from the Kaunas Ghetto by acquaintances. Encouraged by Žakavičius, the farmers Bronius Jocevičius, Jonas Petrauskas, Jonas Janulaitis and Pranas Simokaitis opened their doors to seven escapees from the Kaunas Ghetto. News about Vytautas Žakavičius’ actions finally reached the Gestapo, and on 18 March 1944 armed Nazis arrived in Gelgaudiškis and arrested all the Jews and their rescuers hiding there. Janulaitis later managed to escape and Simokaitis was deported to Germany. Bronius Jocevičius, Jonas Petrauskas and Vytautas Žakavičius were shot at the IXth Fort in Kaunas at the end of July 1944.
From: Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe
Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, Vilnius, 2019
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