* 1923 - 2019
* recognized 1981
Petrašiūnai cemetery, Kaunas
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Throughout his life, Vladas Drupas was a very energetic and enthusiastic person. He believed that fear cannot stop a person. He was courageous enough to love life. When he was a child, he lived in Šiauliai with his uncle Juozas Dapkus, who was a tailor. At the age of 11, Vladas learned about the flight of Darius and Girėnas over the Atlantic Ocean and realized that he will fly a plane when he will grow up. When he was a student at Šiauliai Gymnasium, he started making flying model airplanes.
When the war started, Vladas was still attending the gymnasium. He saw that his uncle agreed to issue fake work certificates to Jews thus protecting them from hard forced labour, giving them a chance to legally go outside the ghetto to “work“. The family of Leo and Mina Remen was among such Jews of his uncle‘s tailor shop. Vladas himself used to bring food for them to the ghetto. Vladas, on his own initiative, obtained a fake identity document for Mina. After some time, at Leo's request, Vladas took Mina to another safe place. A month later, Leo, his brother, parents and Mina's two cousins joined Mina there. Vladas told his daughter about this travel. He told his daughter that he felt very strong fear - although Mina had forged documents, it was obvious that the woman did not have Lithuanian features. And though Vladas felt fear, he did what he had to do - he helped people. “At the time I was helping the Jews in mortal distress, I did not think about the value and consequences of my decisions. I simply could not do otherwise“. When he was saving another Jewish family - a daughter and a father, Vladas carried them by bicycle from Šiauliai to Kelmė - a distance of 41 km. The travel took four times as long, because Vladas carried the people twice one at a time on the bicycle frame. After taking the daughter a few kilometres, he would come back for her father while the daughter was hiding in the bushes and would take the father to the hideout of his daughter. While the father was hiding in the bushes, the daughter would sit on the frame of Vladas’ bicycle and they would go to another hideout. When he was saving a little girl, Chaviva, a daughter of another Jewish woman, Vladas convinced a washerwoman, who worked for his uncle, to provide the child with temporary shelter. The washerwoman was worried that there will be no one to take care of the little girl while the washerwoman will be at work. So, Vladas took care of the child himself by skipping classes. Later, Vladas managed to find a safer shelter for the child. Vladas, until his death, stayed in close contact with the families of the saved Jews and with Chaviva herself. And the Jewish families remember him, even after his death, as a person without whom they all would not exist.
When a group of glider-pilots gathered in Šiauliai in 1942, V. Drupas was among its first members. The gliders had an old "Varna" glider of Polish design. The enthusiasts flew it from the Salduvė Hill using a rubber shock absorber for starting. After the war, being a student of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, V. Drupas became involved in the activities of the gliding section of the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute. Vladas also loved running and riding a motorcycle. He used to run not only in the mornings to work, but also marathons.
Vladas had an accident while riding a motorcycle and suffered an open fracture of the knee. A surgeon Aldona Giedraitytė, who operated Vladas and took care of him, was amazed by persistence and stubbornness of Vladas. After such an injury, Vladas heard a diagnosis - he will be wheelchair-bound. But Vladas did not stop and worked until he could walk again. Enthusiasm, courage and perseverance - these three qualities of his, probably, made the greatest impression on Vladas‘ doctor because Vladas and Aldona got married in 1956. Aldona raised her son Vladas (also a future Drupas and a future engineer) from her first marriage. And in 1957, the daughter Violeta was born to the family. In the autumn of the same year, Kaunas glider-pilots settled down by the Nemunas River, at Pociūnai airfield in front of Birštonas. They needed to settle and build facilities for the storage of aviation equipment. All these works were a concern of V. Drupas.
In 1963, Vladas was awarded the title of master of gliding sports. He participated in two expeditions in the Caucasus. Excellent gliding results did not appease Vladas’ desire to engage himself in aerobatic flying. For his high sports achievements, V. Drupas was awarded the honorary title of master of aerobatic flying sports. He proved his mastery in 1972 and 1973 by winning the title of absolute champion of Lithuania. It was written in the statutes of the aviation sports Darius and Girėnas pilot competitions, that were drawn up by Vladas, that the best foreign aerobatic flying pilots will be invited. It seemed unreal at the time. But Vladas was sure that there are no impossible things.
Vladas was a very social person and worked hard. On weekends, after putting his daughter in a motorcycle trailer, Vladas would go with her to see what construction work was completed. Vladas taught his children that the world belongs to them - they cannot tremble and fear and must always go forward and have enough courage to love life. He taught the children not by words, but by his example. Since the 1990s, being an honorary citizen of Tel Aviv, Vladas started spending winters in Israel, where he was always welcome. Vladas remained energetic and enthusiastic throughout his life, until 2015, when his wife Aldona died. Then he became less energetic. The daughter of Vladas planned to celebrate Vladas' 100th birthday at the airfield, where her dad would have donated his plane to the museum after his last flight. But the last time Vladas piloted the plane was when he was 96 years old, because he died in 2019.
Chaviva Krasnitzki (Ziv)
Esther Ton (Ziv)
Vladas Drupas visits the family of rescued people
Vladas Drupas (on the right) with his uncle Juozas Dapkus
A letter of thanks from the family of the rescued people. 2018
Chaviva Krasnitzki (Ziv)