A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more
Čečkevičius Kazys (1887 - 1982 )
Čečkevičienė Zuzana (1886 - 1952 ), WIFE
The tailor Kazys Čečkevičius lived with his wife Zuzana and sons Algis and Benius in Vilkaviškis, which was occupied by the Germans on June 23, 1941. Three months later, they were asked by the local priest, Kardauskas, if they'd agree to keep and raise a two-year-old Jewish girl, Aneta Zilber. Her parents, Iosif and Chaya, and the grandmother Fruma Goldberg survived the Aktion of September 24 and were hiding in a rural area.
To provide an explanation for Aneta’s appearance, Zuzana left Vilkaviškis for a while and then came back with the girl, presenting her as a niece from Kaunas. The blond and grey-eyed toddler understood Lithuanian and that helped her to get used to her new family. Later she was baptized and received a new name, Janutė.
Janutė's life with the Čečkevičiuses was open and carefree. She called her hosts, "mamytė" and "tėvelis" (mommy and daddy), loved them and her new brothers and every one returned the affection. She would meet and play with the neighbors' children of her age. But most of all, Janutė loved Zuzana and spent much time by her side.
In the meantime, the girl's biological parents continued to live in hiding. Apparently they had some contacts with the Čečkevičiuses and let them know when Chaya became very ill. Janutė remembered a day when “mamytė” and “tėvelis” took her to a barn, where a woman was lying on straw. Years later she understood that she had been brought to say goodbye to her dying mother. On another occasion, at Easter time, Janutė met her father as a guest in the house. While sitting next to her, the man gave her a brightly colored wooden toy mill.
In 1944, when the front line approached Vilkaviškis, the family moved to the rural area, far from the bombing. They greeted the liberation in the village at relatives’. One cold and rainy day in October 1944, Iosif Zilber found his daughter there and took her to Kaunas to begin a "the new life".
Every summer, Janutė, whose name reverted to Aneta, came to stay with her rescuers and left them, always unwillingly, when the holidays were over. In 1953, Zuzana passed away. A year later, following her father's death, Aneta moved to live with her aunt in Vilnius. She still kept in touch with Kazys and her foster brothers but not saw them as frequently as before. Aneta established a family, and became a chemist. In 1980, she and her family immigrated to Australia.
On January 22, 2006, Yad Vashem recognized Zuzana and Kazys Čečkevičius as Righteous Among the Nations
Rescued Aneta Zilber with the rescuers' children. From left to right - Algirdas and Beniaminas, 1966
Rescued Aneta Zilber, 16.12.1951
From left to right - Algirdas, Zuzana, Aneta and Kazys, 1946-1947
Righteous Gentiles of Vilkaviskis