*1919 - 2001
*Recognized in 2000
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Motl Kuricki came from a simple Jewish family from Anykščiai - his father had a horse and used a cart to transport people to the train station. Young Motke worked as a cobbler in an artel before the war. Verutė Misiūnaitė, a twenty-year-old Lithuanian, also worked in the same artel, only in another workshop. Before the war and during the war, Veronika lived with her sister and mother in a small house of her own near the Anykščiai Jewish cemetery. After the start of the war, after a few days, the Germans also hosted Anykščiai. The persecution of the Jews began immediately. At the end of July 1941, Jewish men in Anykščiai were separated from women and children, tortured and shot, a month later, Jewish women, Jewish children and elderly people of Anykščiai were shot near the Ludiškiai mound. About 1,500 Jews were killed in Anykščiai. At the beginning of 1941, one early morning in September, Veronika found a young man she knew, half-naked, bleeding. It was Motl Kuricki who miraculously managed to crawl out of the hole alive. Veronika knew what was at stake for helping the Jews, but despite the mortal danger, she brought Motl food and water and bandaged his wounds. Later, Veronika brought her father's old clothes to Motl and hid him in the barn. Veronika hid the fugitive and took care of him for several days. When Motl got stronger, he secretly withdrew from Anykščiai. Kuricki had a plan to cross the front line and join the ranks of the Red Army, but he was captured by the Germans near Daugavpils (Latvia) and entered the Daugavpils ghetto in October 1941. Throughout the years of the war, Motl Kuricki faced death more than once, and near the end of the war, he was taken to the Dachau concentration camp. It was liberated by the Allied armies. After regaining his freedom, Motl Kuricki already knew that none of his relatives were alive, so he did not return to Lithuania. He eventually reached the United States of America and settled there. Motl Kuricki took the name Max Curtis in America and started a family there. In 1996, Max Curtis visited his hometown Anykščiai and met his savior Veronika Misiūnaitė - Kalinkiene.
From the article by Rimantas Vanagas:
In 1996, former citizen Max Curtis (Motl Kuricki) visited Lithuania. He hoped to find the woman who sheltered him in 1941 when he miraculously escaped from the grave pit. Max called her Verutka. As soon as he arrived, he turned to the Anykščiai Museum - could it help him find that savior? That same evening, Vida Zasienė announced: yes, there is such a woman, alive and lively!
The next day, Max was already standing in the yard of Verutė Misiūnaitė-Kalinkienė's homestead, still unable to believe that this small gray-haired woman with surprisingly blue eyes and a calm face was the same girl who opened the door for him, bloody... Both were smiling - and crying, looking at each other and then crying and smiling again... A little later, Veronika Kalinkienė said:
"...I remember it was Sunday, my aunt came to visit, she was talking to my mother, she sympathized with the Jews, that they could all be shot, but suddenly we heard - someone was crying so much outside, so so much! Citizens from Anykščiai, close neighbors of the Jews, led Motke's father and the seller of the household goods store to the graves and ordered them both to dig a hole. Motke's father was an ordinary Jew, he had a horse and a carriage, he used to take people to the train station and back, - why is this happening?!.
And then, after some time in the night, someone knocked; I asked who was there, and I heard Motke's voice: let me in, it's me, Motke... I was very afraid of blood, and when I saw Motke's bloody hand after I let him, I immediately collapsed; after recovering, I looked around - he was no longer there! Where are you, I called? I'm here, Motkė answered from the room, just deep under the straw – I fell in and I can't get out...
I won't say exactly how long he was with us - maybe two, maybe three weeks. Well, I got hurt then! Once, I see a man come running to our yard with a rifle; what, I ask, do you need from me? And he says: I'm not alone here, there are ten of us, runaway Jews came to the cemetery, so we will surround them and shoot them - what are they roaming here!.. Poor Jews! And Motkė on the upper floor of the room... Anyway, I lured them out of the house. But after that, the white-collared people stopped by our place more than once - the hut is secluded, near the Jewish graves, so they were coming by...
When my brother-in-law found out that we were hiding a Jew, he scared my mother that the Germans might shoot the whole family; then Motke quietly returned home through the rye field. Then, I heard, he teamed up with Kac, who had also escaped from the tomb with his two boys. All four of them were hiding in Jurzdike, in a sauna, they only went out for a walk at night. However, one night they hit the white bands who shot Kac immediately; when the children rushed to their father crying, they shot them too. And Motkė was still a lucky person! - he ran away; later people told me that he reached Daugavpils ghetto, where his brothers of fate gathered.
And now, back to our times... A woman from the museum runs to me, “isn't that you” she asks “are you Verutka?” I mean, no one calls me that! “No” she says, “one person from America does...” Motkė! Alive, found me…”
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem website):