Dobilaitė Matilda (1895 - 1968 )
The Jewish Tabarishski family was well known in Vilkaviškis: Meir Tabarishski and his brother Benja owned a refined oil factory. The family observed Jewish tradition and were Zionist, and donated money for the development of Eretz Israel. In 1937 Meir even visited Palestine.
After the German occupation, in June 24 1941, the Jewish population of Vilkaviškis was subject to constant repressions: Jews were forced to wear the yellow star, they were banned from walking on sidewalks, and were forced to perform hard and humiliating physical work. The members of the Tabarishski family could not avoid this as well. On July 28th the Germans launched the first mass execution, killing the majority of the male Jewish population in the area. Meir survived that Aktion; he stayed with his family in former army barracks outside of town. Sadly, he was killed on September 24th during the second mass execution, together with his wife Sima and their eldest daughter Tanya. His younger child, six-year-old Lyudmila, miraculously survived. Together with a small group of other survivors Lyudmila found herself in a local prison.
Matilda Dobilaitė, who knew Lyudmila’s family well, made an attempt to save her by applying to the authorities with a claim that the girl was not born Jewish but only raised as one by the Jewish family. While the claim was being examined, Matilda daily visited Lyudmila in prison, brought her food and consoled her. Five months passed before Lyudmila was finally released, and Matilda was allowed to take the girl under her care. An ardent Catholic, Matilda baptized her little ward, taught her prayers, and took her to mass every Sunday. Lyudmila trusted and obeyed her patroness, feeling that the latter’s goal was to save her life.
Matilda was a good cook and she earned a living by cooking for clients. When she was out working, Lyudmila remained alone, locked from the outside world by Matilda. The girl did not attend school because her legal status was undetermined. Matilda encouraged her to learn reading and writing by herself, as she had done in her youth.
After the liberation the survivor continued living with her rescuer until 1950, when her aunt found her and took her to Leningrad, Russia. Matilda passed away in 1986 at the age of 73.
On May 3, 2009 Yad Vashem recognized Matilda Dobilaitė as a Righteous Among the Nations.
A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more
Righteous Gentiles of Vilkaviskis