*1901 - 1975
*Recognized in 2006
About the rescuer and the rescue story
In 1919, the 18-year-old Jewish girl Masha Shustef (Marija) met the Lithuanian Juozas Katinskas. They fell in love and got married despite the disapproval of both families. In 1920, their only daughter Onutė was born. The Katinskas lived in Kaunas. Over time, Masha began to communicate with her family again. She was very attached to her sister Berta. Berta and Rafael had three sons - Azriel the eldest, Fima the middle (died at the age of six) and Tobias the youngest. Before the war, the family also lived in Kaunas. Rafael Jaafetas was the representative of English textile companies in Lithuania. In 1939, the family emigrated to England.
Tobias' cousin Onutė Katinskaitė (Masha and Juozas‘ daughter), who has just finished school, came to visit them from Lithuania. However, it was getting more and more restless in Europe and Tobias' mother decided to take the girl back to Kaunas, she took Tobias with her. In 1940, the government in Lithuania changed, visas were no longer valid, and Berta and Tobias could no longer return to England. Unfortunately, Berta Jaafetas and her son Tobias were not destined to return to England to her husband and son Azriel. When the war started, Berta Jaafetas and her son Tobias ended up in the Kaunas ghetto.
In 1944 On March 27, Tobias Jaafetas survived the Children's Action in the Kaunas ghetto. He managed to hide:
... the end of March was beautiful, sunny. One morning we felt that bad things were happening around us. The ghetto was surrounded, the guard was strengthened. Soldiers came to the house next door. There was a noise, shouts. I understood - it is necessary to hide. I ran to the attic, where the rabbits were, let them out of their cages, and after closing the door to the staircase, I hid under the grass. I laid there listening to everything. The noise in the neighboring house stopped, he moved to our house. I heard footsteps in the stairwell, a woman's scream from our apartment. An hour later, men's voices were heard at the attic door. They did not open them but broke them with a blow. The door fell on the grass I was lying under. The rabbits got scared and started to hide. Someone entered the attic, paced, searched. Starved the grass. I heard him say: "The only living creatures here are rabbits, do you want them?" I laid motionless. After a good hour, the voices in the house died down, but I still didn't move. I realized that I was lucky - I was saved by rabbits. And our Getala was gone. Her mother was walking around crazy. There were almost no children left in the house...
After the Children's Action, the mother decided to save her son as soon as possible. Tobias left the ghetto at the agreed time. He said goodbye to his mother and met Kotryna Katinskaite at the "Silva" hosiery factory. She led Tobias across the Neris bridge, guarded by guards. There they were met by Ona Katinskaitė, they all went to the apartment on Prezidento Street, which was hosted by the nanny of Tobias' cousin Liov Frenkel, a well-known savior of Jews, Pranė Špokaitė-Juodvalkienė, who had repeatedly brought food to Jaafets imprisoned in the ghetto. The next morning, Kotryna and Ona Katinskaitės, at great risk, having received forged documents for the boy in the name of Jonas Vaitkevičius, took Tobias by train to Vilnius to Marija and Juozas Katinskas’.
A policeman and a student lived in their apartment on Kaštonų Street. Tobias lived in hiding, but he happily saw the end of the war under the protection of his beloved aunt Masha (Marija Katinskienė) and her husband Juozas Katinskas. Tobias’ mother, Berta Jaafetas, was shot by a policeman shortly before the liquidation of the ghetto while trying to escape from the ghetto. Tobias was raised and educated by Juozas and Marija Katinskas. Tobias later started a family, works and lives in Vilnius.
Tobias Jaafet says that he remained alive because his life was saved by the Righteous Among the Nations:
At the beginning of the Nazi occupation, my mother Berta Jaafet and I, uncle L. Frenkel and his son were imprisoned in the Kaunas ghetto. My aunts Sonia Garsel and Gita Kupsik with their husbands and sons Monia and Azrel were imprisoned in the Riga ghetto. My paternal grandmother, Zelda Jaafet, was imprisoned in Rezekne, Latvia. All of these listed closest relatives of mine were killed. I was the only one left alive. The fascist occupation authorities sought to exterminate Jews, gypsies and the disabled. They turned them into lawless slaves, almost all of them were killed. What remains are the graves of mass killings. There are over 200 of them in Lithuania. I stayed alive because my life was saved by the Righteous Among the Nations, Lithuanian colonel Juozas Katinskas, his sister Kotryna Katinskaitė, Mrs. Juodvalkienė. I was saved by Marija Katinskienė, Ona Doveikienė, priest Alminas, professor Konstantinas Jablonskis.
In 1939 our family lived in London and would have stayed there if my cousin, who had just graduated from high school, had not come with us from Kaunas. It was a very turbulent period then. My mother felt that the Germans were going to invade Poland, so she decided that she had no right to keep a girl in her house, not in her family. At the time, my brother and I were studying at a boarding school in Brighton. We returned to Kaunas via Paris, on an almost closed train through Germany to Kaunas. We wanted to return to England as soon as possible.
War and occupation started, we stayed in Kaunas because our visas disappeared. The Germans entered the city, my mother and I were forced to move to the ghetto. Father and brother stayed in England.
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem website):
Kotryna on the left