*Recognized in 2008
Žarėnai village cemetery,
Šiauliai district, Lithuania
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Andrejus Kalendra was born in Lithuania in 1884. He spent his youth in Riga, Latvia, where he received his education and was exposed to Leo Tolstoy’s ideals – to which he adhered until his last day. Upon his return to Lithuania, Andrejus and his wife Monika settled in an isolated farm in the vicinity of the town of Papilė, northwest of Šiauliai. Andrejus led an ascetic life, did not eat meat and never shaved his beard; because of his beard he was sometimes mistaken for a Jew. On the eve of the war the Kalendras had five daughters, aged 9 to 22.
Isaak Gordimer lived in Papilė before the war. He was a blacksmith, the family owned a metal shop. In 1937, Sonia and Isaak Gordimer moved to Šiauliai. After the Nazis occupied Šiauliai in June 1941, the family was forced to move to the ghetto. On November 5, 1943, the Children's Action was carried out in Šiauliai Ghetto. Isaak's sons Jona Gordimer and his brother Sholom (Sim) were hidden in the cellar, where they stayed for 3 days. During these days, Isaak contacted Andrejus Kalendra. Kalendra had a farm near Žarėnai and was a regular customer of Isaak's store. Isaak knew Kalender very well and trusted him. Andrejus Kalendra was well known in his country, respected by everyone around him. After Isaak spoke to Kalendra, he then organized a rescue operation involving his relatives and friends. Sholom was taken out of the ghetto in a sack of potatoes and taken to Kalendra‘s farmstead. There he was presented as a refugee from Russia. Sholom stayed on the farm from November 1943 to 1945 summer. Andrejus and Monika Kalendras had 5 daughters: Viktorija, Morta, Sofija, Nijolė and Ana. In 1951, Andrejus Kalendra, his wife Monika and daughter Marta were exiled to Siberia. Andrejus died there, and his wife and daughter later returned to Lithuania.
On the same morning when Sholom was taken to Kalendera, Antanas Plekavičius picked up Jona and took him and his parents to Steponas and Marijona Garbačiauskas. Marijona was Kalendra's sister. 5 children grew up in the Garbačiauskas family: Steponas, Marytė, Stanislovas, Adolfina and Onutė.
After staying with Garbačiauskas for 3 weeks, the family moved to Vaškys family. It was a young couple, they were good friends of Andrejus Kalendra. Jona Gordimer lived in Vaškis homestead until 1943 and his parents hid there until the end of the war. July 29, 1945 Vaskys‘ family were killed by the Russians - because Augustus refused to serve in the Russian army. Their one-year-old son was taken and raised by Zelma Vaškytė, Augustas's sister.
At the end of December 1943, Jona was taken to Zelma Vaškytė. Everyone was told that he was a refugee from Latvia because Zelma was Latvian. Jona stayed on her farm until August 1944. After the war, Zelma was exiled to Siberia, where she was imprisoned for 10 years. Later, Zelma returned to Lithuania and died in 1991.
In August 1944, Jona was transferred to Plekavičius. Antanas Plekavičius was a good friend of Andrejaus Kalendra. There were two daughters in the family. The Gordimers took their sons from Plekavičius in 1945.
After the war, in 1945, Gordimer left Lithuania for the United States.
In 1947, after learning about the fate of the Kalendra family, Garbačiauskas ran away from home, hid with friends and thus managed to avoid Siberia.
In the 10s, George (Jona) Gordimer corresponded with 3 daughters of Kalendra, Garbačiauskas' son and Plekavičiaus' daughter.
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem website):
The Kalendra house. 1937