A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more
Anevičius Jeronimas (1896 - 1947 )
Anevičiūtė Juzė (1889 - 1969 ),
Anevičienė Antanina (1901 - 1981 ), WIFE
Anevičius Vytautas (1930 - ? ), SON
Jeronimas Anevičius lived in Kaunas with his wife Antanina and children Jadviga and Vytautas. Jerominas worked as a bus driver, while his wife took care of the home and the children.
In early spring 1944, Antanina came home carrying a big rucksack with a black-haired girl sitting inside. “This is Nina and she’ll be your sister”, Antanina said to her daughter and son. The girl could hardly speak Lithuanian and at the beginning did not feel at ease with the Anevičiuses. Antanina related that Nina’s parents by the name of Klein had been murdered in the Ninth Fort. After their death, an elderly Jewish woman in the ghetto cared for her. Antanina received Nina from a certain Baronaitė, her pre-war Jewish acquaintance, who promised to pick the girl up after the liberation. In case she’d not survive, Baronaitė gave Antanina the address of Nina’s relatives in Tel-Aviv.
A few days passed and it became clear that Nina’s presence could not be kept secret from neighbors, among them a person who Jeronimas did not trust and feared. Thus it was decided to transfer Nina to Jeronimas’ unmarried sisters in Alvitas, near Vilkaviškis. Thirteen-year-old Vytautas was to go with the girl. A friend of Jeronimas, a train conductor, drove the children in his train cabin and dropped them off at the point nearest to Alvitas. Vytautas and Nina got off the train in a field, and walked in the direction of the town for another couple of hours. The six-year-old Nina got so tired that Vytautas had to carry her on his back part of the way. When the sisters saw the children at their doorstep they immediately understood that Nina was Jewish. “How could Jeronimas endanger us to such extent”, they kept on saying. Nina listened to their conversation with Vytautas, without understanding the language, but feeling they were speaking about her.
The sisters -- Juzė, Katarina and Ona -- were very pious; they hurried to baptize Nina and change he name to Jonina. The girl was presented to neighbors as their niece, Vytautas’ sister. As time passed, she became used to her new family, and learned Lithuanian. The 55-year-old Juzė was the one who developed a special bond with the girl and cared for her more than the others. On the eve of the Russians’ entrance into the town, the Germans blew up a local church and forced the citizens to leave their homes. At first the Anevičiuses hid themselves in old trenches, and then moved into an empty village house that was still standing, trying thus to survive at the front line.
The area was indeed liberated in October 1944. Returning to Alvitas, the family found its house intact but now occupied by the Soviet military. One of the officers showed interest in Jonina’s fate and it was decided to trust the girl in his hands to bring her back to Kaunas. Thus Jonina returned to Antanina and Jeronimas and stayed with them for another year, while waiting for relatives to be found; for obvious reasons the Anevičiuses could not write to the Land of Israel or send the girl there. In May 1945, Jeronimas placed Jonina in the #4 city orphanage where her mother’s sister, Gita Feigelman, found her and took her to Minsk, Belarus. The connection between the rescuers and the survivor were reestablished only in 2007.
Righteous Gentiles of Vilkaviskis