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Girdvainis Jonas

​* 1899 - 1979
* Recognized in 2010

Joniškės cemetery,
Klaipėda, Lithuania

Girdvainis Jonas


About the rescuer and the rescue story

Jonas and Ona Girdvainis with their 15-year-old son Kazys lived and farmed in the village of Barstyčiai, Seda county, Skuodas district.

At the beginning of 1942, at the request of Vladislovas Taškūnas, priest of Alsėdžiai, the Girdvainis family granted shelter to two women from Telšiai - 26-year-old Doba Feidelmanaitė and 16-year-old Mira Gapanovičiūtė. At that time, Mira was the only survivor of her large family, and Doba still had a sister.

Priest Vladislovas Taškūnas sheltered her and two other Jewish girls in the rectory until he found safe places for each girl to hide. Doba's younger sister Sara was blonde, fluent in Lithuanian, she was placed as a maid in the family of Antanas and Stasė Mikalauskas. Doba and Mira had a typical Jewish appearance and needed to be hidden from prying eyes, so Jonas set up a hiding place for them in his garden under the hay. Every day, Girdvainis son Kazys brought the girls food, and at night they went out to the yard for a while, and came to the house to talk, take a shower and do their laundry.

Doba and Mira were visited by priest Vladislovas Taškūnas, each time bringing Doba a letter from her younger sister Sara. Once, together with the priest, Sara also came to Girdvainis, she missed her sister very much. The women learned from priest Taškūnas that they were not the only Jews who found refuge with the local people, that many Jews were also hiding with Ona Girdvainienė's brother Juozas Straupis.

In 1943 Jonas Girdvainis brought a young man from Telšiai to his home - Jakovas Gurvičius. Jakov had an authentic birth certificate issued with a Lithuanian name and surname, he spoke Lithuanian fluently, so he helped his owners with farm work without hiding. However, this behavior and self-confidence of Jakovas was not acceptable to Doba and Mira, they were afraid that Jakovas could be recognized, and then the truth about them would also come out. Realizing that his presence greatly disturbed the hiding girls, Jakovas left Girdvainis homestead and went to look for another hiding place, while Doba and Mira stayed with Ona and Jonas Girdvainiai until they were rescued.

After the war, Doba Feidelmanaitė (married name Rafaelienė) settled in Šiauliai and lived there until her last days. Mira Gapanovičiūtė (married name Kaganovič) settled in Kaunas, studied, became a dentist, and emigrated to Israel with her daughter in 1990, died in Jerusalem.

Rescued persons (Yad Vashem website):

Mira Gapanavičiūtė - Kaganovič
Doba Feidelmanaitė - Rafaelienė
Jakovas Gurvičius

Information collected using:


Doba Feidelmanaite

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