A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more
Righteous Gentiles of Vilkaviskis
Vasiliauskas Ignas (1895 - 1982 )
Vasiliauskienė Marija (1905 - 1966 ), WIFE
The teacher Ignas Vasiliauskas (b. 1895) lived on a large farmstead in the village of Švitrūnai near Vilkaviškis, with his wife, Marija (b. 1905), and their young daughters, Danutė and Birutė. On the eve of the German-Soviet war, Vasiliauskas became friendly with the Jewish barber Avraham Mirbach, who lived in nearby Virbalis, and with a number of other Jews who lived in that town. Shortly after the Germans occupied Virbalis, Mirbach was murdered, along with his two sons and all the other Jewish men, on July 10, 1941; his wife, Ita, and 21-year-old daughter Bela, were interned in the local ghetto. Not long after the ghetto was established, local farmers came to the ghetto looking for Jewish workers. Vasiliauskas chose Bela to help care for his children. A short time later, the local police summoned them to return to town. In mid-September 1941, on the eve of the ghetto liquidation, Bela decided to escape with her mother to the forest. After wandering about for a time, not knowing where to go, Bela remembered the kind farmer Vasiliauskas, They headed for Švitrūnai, where they turned to the Vasiliauskas family and asked for shelter. Despite the risk involved in helping Jews, the Vasiliauskases decided to hide the two Jewish women in a secret room on their farm. Three months later, Vasiliauskas fired his employees who might recognize Bela from her previous stint there, and took on the Jewish women as hired workers - Bela, who did not look Jewish and spoke fluent Lithuanian, as a nanny, and her mother, as a mute housekeeper. In March 1942, the Vasiliauskases also provided shelter for acquaintances Feige-Beile Rozenberg and her brother Moisei. Feige-Beile, who was blonde, lived openly in the Vasiliauskas home, in the guise of a housemaid, while her dark-haired brother was forced to stay in hiding most of the time. In summer 1944, when the Germans forced the Vasiliauskas family to evacuate to Germany, Ignas took all the women in the household in his cart, and Moisei was left on the farm. Shortly afterward, Lithuanian nationalists found Moisei Rozenberg and murdered him. After the war, the Vasiliauskas family returned to their village, Feige-Beile (later Španje), remained in Lithuania, and Bela (later Upnitzki) immigrated to Israel.
On November 17, 1999, Yad Vashem recognized Ignas Vasiliauskas and Marija Vasiliauskienė as Righteous Among the Nations.
The rescuers' children, 1945
Ignas Vasiliauskas and his wife Marija, 1945
Marija Vasiliauskenė's tomb