*recognized in 1988
Petrašiūnai cemetery, Kaunas
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Gerardas Binkis was born in 1923 in the family of Lithuanian poet Kazys Binkis and his first wife Pranutė. Gerardas had a sister Eleonora, a year older than him. In 1927, Pranutė went to visit her family at Nariūnai Manor with her children, but she caught a cold and died when she was only 29. A couple of years later, Kazys remarried, and his new wife Sofija was also a widow with two girls, so the new family had four children. Gerardas got on well with Sofija's younger daughter Lilijana, both of whom were younger, energetic children. When the couple got married, Kazys used to joke: "We started a cooperative to raise children." Sofija used to spend summers with her four children on the estate. And Binkis would drop by from time to time. Viktoras, Gerardas's son, recalls, "My father told me that he used to spend his summers in what he used to call the "bobyne" - 14 women and himself, one boy, sitting around the table - but he lived like a gentleman on the estate: breakfast, lunch, dinner served, no farm work, just leisure time. He was very happy when his father came to visit, and then he would go fishing with him in the Daugyvenė river, which runs near the Balsiai manor - Binkis was a keen angler, they would hang out together and have a manly chat. His poem "The Angler" was inspired by the time he spent with his son."
After Kazys's death, Gerardas and his sister went to live with relatives in Nariūnai. When the front line returned and the Russians came, almost the entire Adomonis family fled to the West - they realised that there would be no life for them here. Gerardas became a liaison between the city underground and the forest partisans. He was tracked down and arrested in 1946. At first he was imprisoned by the KGB. Thanks to Sofija Binkienė and family friend Justas Paleckis, he was not shot, and for the first three years he was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Lukiškės Prison. Later, he was exiled to the Inta mines for seven years. As he had started training as an electrical engineer (his studies were interrupted by the war), he worked as an electrician in the camp. He met and married Ina in Inta, and the couple had a son, Viktoras. After returning to Lithuania, Gerardas worked as a lighting engineer.
After the establishment of the Kaunas ghetto in 1941 In August, Sofija Binkienė, having received the approval of her husband, the famous Lithuanian writer Kazys Binkis, decided to help the Jews there. The Binkis’ home became a permanent refuge for many Jews, and it also served as a halfway house where people were encouraged and psychologically supported. Sofija and Kazys Binkis’ were helped by their daughters Lilijana (later Mozuriūnienė) and Irena Nacevičiutė (Sofija's daughter from her first marriage), as well as Kazys’s children from a previous marriage, Gerdas Binkis and Eleonora Binkytė. Vladas Varčikas, Liliana's fiancé at the time, also provided vital aid to the Jews. Since Varčikas was not a family member at the time, and his relatives were unknown to the neighbors of Binkis’s, they presented some Jews as Varčikas family members. At the age of thirteen, Goda Judelevich, who was given shelter in the Binkis’ home from 1942 to 1944, was introduced as Varčikas’s little sister. This rescue of Jews and continued support for the Jews of the ghetto was accompanied by many dangers, and although Binkis himself was already very ill at the time, his family members continued to help the Jews out of purely humanitarian reasons.
"...Whoever survived the German occupation understands what such a house meant to Jews, where you could come in the most difficult moments of life. For us, this was the house of "Aunt Zosia", which we jokingly called the Jewish hotel. There we found not only shelter, but and a warm atmosphere, a willingness to help, and this gave us courage and faith, which was extremely important in those years!
To this day, we cannot understand how Sofija Binkienė could feed so many hungry and outcasts with less than modest earnings. Once we found her sleeping on the floor because she had given her bed to a woman who had escaped from the ghetto that day.
Dear "Aunt Zosia" will always remain for us a representative of those brave and dedicated Lithuanians who were not afraid to challenge the Hitlerite executioners and became symbols of soldiers without weapons..."
Beba Šatenstein-Taborsky, Adina and Samuelis Segaliai, Raja Judelevičienė, Gita Judelevičiūtė, Margalit Stender-Lonke.
From the Israeli newspaper "Our country" 04/05/1984
Gita Judelevičiūtė (Gita Judelevitch)
Raja Judelevičienė (Raja Judelevitch)
Paša (Pesia) Melamed
Fruma - Mania Ginkienė
Sofija (Sonia) Ginkaitė Šabadienė
Beba Šatenštein - Taborisky
Gutia Šmuklerytė -Fiš
Samuelis (Šmuelis) Segalis
Rivka Šmuklerytė - Ošerovičienė
Information collected using:
The story told by Sofija Ligija Makutėnienė (Iga);
Magazine "Legendos", Gerda Prancūzevičiūtė, Who set up the "Jewish Hotel" in the house of the Lithuanian poet hooligan and quadriplegic Kazis Binkis during the war (Kas per karą lietuvių poeto chuligano, keturvėjininko Kazio Binkio namuose įsteigė „Žydų viešbutį“), 2023 No. 1
Kazys Binkis with kids
Kazys and Sofija Binkis with their kids
1921: newlyweds Pranė and Kazys Binkis
Gita Judelevitch with her parients before the war