Ivanauskaitė Ramanauskienė Giedrutė
* Recognized in 1984
Simno kaimo kapinės
Alytaus rajonas, Lietuva
Ivanauskaitė Ramanauskienė Giedrutė
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Lea Port was hiding in the forests near the village of Skovagaliai, Alytus County, along with Shmuel Ingel, who would later become her husband, and a group of Jews who had fled from various ghettos. On the verge of physical collapse from hunger, Lea decided to seek refuge in the village, and chose to knock on the door of a house at random and ask for food. Out stepped Elena Ivanauskienė, a poor peasant woman. She was a deaf mute. Seeing a young woman standing in the cold, in rags, she motioned her in. Out of the kindness of her heart, Elena agreed to take Samuel Ingel in as well. Fearing that her husband would object to this act of rescue, Ivanauskienė decided not to tell him that Lea and Samuel were Jewish, while her children, Gedrutė and Gintautas, knew the secret and were full partners in saving the couple. Later Elena told her husband the truth. Ivanauskienė and her children saw to all the needs of the two Jews.
Elena's granddaughter Irena Abromavičienė remembers Elena as a very brave and good-hearted woman, a true hero who taught children that there are no bad nations, only bad people. After the Russians occupied the area, German prisoners were kept in the village of Marinka. In the background of the tree branches broken by the gusts of wind caused by the falling bombs, Elena would tie a white scarf on her head and go to the neighbors to bandage the German prisoners guided by her good heart.
"THE SONG IS FOREVER RINGING IN MY HEART"
Dark autumn evening of 1942. It's cold. The wind throws sharp grains in the face. After finishing work in the barns, I return to the shed. Our house is small, but it is warm and cozy. The door of the room opens slowly, and my brother's daughter Ronderienė enters. She is followed by a young girl of extraordinary beauty. Her great black eyes look at me with hope. They glow with fear and fervent supplication. To this day, she stands before my eyes as she did then: beautiful, scared to death, depressed by despair.
"I ran away from the Kaunas ghetto," she says timidly.
Little by little, the picture is becoming clear to me. For many months, she wandered around the villages of Dzūkija, but couldn’t find shelter. People were intimidated. Only some places allowed overnight stays. Winter is coming. Cold, hunger, doom await...
I am shocked to the core. I think: what would I do in her place? I try to imagine myself wandering the fields in winter, hungry, ragged, without a home, without friends, harassed, persecuted, in constant fear of death... How could you reject this girl? But right here, fear creeps into the heart. Hitlerites shot for rescuing Jews. They can shoot me and my whole family. They can shoot my children. What are they guilty of? I'm afraid. I'm terribly afraid. But her pleading black eyes look at me. Tears glisten in them... Where will she go, poor thing? How much suffering has she endured in the ghetto, so now to fall into the claws of the executioners again? She is so young, blooming, so eager to live. Why doesn't she have the right to live - like my children, like me, like my husband, like all people?
"Stay," I say. - You have to live.
Her name was Lea, Lea Port, but we decided to call her Nina Sitnikova. We decided that she would pretend to be the wife of a Russian lieutenant. In case of danger, it would be better. We always called her only by this name: "Ninočka" or "Ninute".
A day passed, another day. No, Lea doesn't feel happy about finding shelter. Frightened, she keeps looking around. She is restless. We often see her crying. I feel so sorry for her, but I don't dare to ask. I think: her parents probably stayed in the ghetto. Maybe they were killed. Maybe death awaits them. Why ask? Words will not help in such a disaster. But Lea's tears, her sad, despairing eyes do not give me peace. I will finally turn to her:
"Why are you crying, dear?"
She looks at me again with frightened, pleading eyes like the night she first stepped through the threshold of my house. Only after a long pause does she reveal her secret: she is not alone. Another one escaped from the ghetto with her. A friend. She does not dare to bring him. He's in a barn. For the third day. Hungry and cold...
She cries, her whole body is shaking.
I imagine her friend lying in a cold puddle. The homeless person is being chased by everyone. Starving, losing his last strength. Probably as young as Lea. Maybe as much beautiful. Really, and so cute. But suddenly I'm afraid again. Two people to hide. No, it's not possible. Double jeopardy. We will not be able to hide it from the neighbors. Someone will complain. What will happen then? What will happen then?
I approach Leia. She raises her head. Big pleading teary eyes look back at me, so innocent and so unhappy.
"Let him come," I say.
She hugs me passionately, kisses me, then runs out frantically. Comes back with him.
It was Samuel Ingel from Alytus. A young man with a very typical Jewish appearance. He could not be introduced as either Russian or Lithuanian. He needed to be hidden even more securely from prying eyes.
At first, my husband objected, arguing that I would kill not only myself, but also him and the children. But in the end, he agreed, although he was very afraid.
It was difficult to hold two more adults. We lived poorly - we only had a few hectares of bad land. There was not even enough to cover everyone. Instead of a blanket, I gave Lea my winter coat. Both she and Samuel were thinly dressed and had nothing.
Fortunately, that year we had an unprecedentedly large and very fat pig. That's how we all ate anyway.
We set up a hiding place for Samuel in a barn, under a threshing floor of unthreshed rye, and he lived there. He came only at night to warm up and take a bath. "Ninutė" lived more often in the house, but she also did not appear to people. Although we were all very careful, the neighbors still smelled it. Fortunately, no one betrayed. When there was danger, we were warned, but no one actively helped. Once I took Samuel to the neighbors, asking them to let him in for one night. Heartlessly refused. I will never forget their selfishness to this day. They were afraid to give even a spoonful of warm soup to the frozen poor man.
My brother S. Tamulynas, who was an active communist, often hid with us. My husband scolded me for everything, but I ignored him. I don't even understand now myself, where did I get so much courage and determination then.
Our children were still teenagers at the time, but they helped me a lot. The refugees lived very friendly with them. Especially Lea loved my daughter Giedrutė passionately, she used to say: "She is a real sister to me". The children brought food to Leah and Samuel and warned them of dangers. Several times, when the Germans came at night, they barely had time to take the fugitives out into the fields. After the danger, children brought them back all frozen, because they wouldn't have found a home alone in the dark.
I had a priceless guard then - a dog. No one ever came near our house without him sensing a mile away. And when he sensed the Germans, he warned us with some particularly angry and fearful barking, fortunately, no one complained about us, but the fear was enough for everyone.
Time passed, the spring of 1944 began to dawn, and with it the hope of liberation. People became braver and started helping us. My brother S. Tamulynas used to take Lea and Samuel to I. Zailskas from the village of Kavalčiukai, Stasys Navys from the village of Gražuliai, P. Makauskas of Skovagaliai, Čeponis of Babarunykai.
When the sun started shining warmly, when nature dressed in green clothes, the danger decreased, it was easy for the fugitives to find shelter under the green leaves, but still our house was their homeland. They just called me "mommy".
Nearer and nearer in the east the thunder of cannons echoed. It was both scary and delightful. Our beautiful Lėjytė, blooming with the hope of freedom, was very cheerful, and so was her friend. When the front approached about 35 km, they said a hearty goodbye to us and went out to meet the liberating Red Army.
After the deliverance, Leah married Samuel. They have children and are happy. Although they live far away, they didn’t forget us.
From: "And unarmed soldiers”, 1967
Lea Port Ingel
Elena Ivanauskienė (first row, first from the left), Giedrutė Ramanauskienė (first row, second from the left), Gintautas Ivanauskas (second row, first from the left)
Elena on the left, Gintautas in the middle, Giedrutė on the right. Child is Irena (Giedrutė's daughter, Elena's granddaughter)