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Kutorga Viktoras

*Recognized in 1982

Zapyškis village cemetery,
Zapyškis, Lithuania

Kutorga Viktoras


About the rescuer and the rescue story

Viktoras Kutorga grew up in the atmosphere of a progressive, intelligent family, where humanistic ideas prevailed, and the children were provided with conditions for comprehensive education. This, perhaps, mainly determined the outlook of the future doctor, the choice of profession and laid the foundations of his deep erudition. The boy had extraordinary talents - he graduated from high school at the age of 16, and at the age of 21, after graduating from Vytautas the Great University, he received a doctor's diploma and became the youngest doctor in Lithuania. The beginning of Doctor Viktoras Kutorga's professional activity - work at Kaunas University clinics coincided with the beginning of the war and the German occupation of Lithuania. Viktoras Kutorga, like his mother, Elena Kutorgienė, already a famous eye doctor at that time, got involved in the underground activities of the Kaunas intelligentsia circle – he provided help to persecuted persons. A little later, Viktoras Kutorga went to Minsk, where he worked as a doctor in the city hospital and engaged in the same underground activities for which he fell into the hands of the Gestapo. V. Kutorga fell ill with spotted typhus in prison. This disease, perhaps, saved Victor's life. He was released from prison, recovered and returned to Zapyškis, where he continued to work as a doctor in the neighborhoods he had known since childhood and, despite the dangers, continued his humanitarian activities.

Shulamit Gordon-Lirov

From the 4th book Hands Bringing Life and Bread


My Mom was a very young and pretty lady. She had blue eyes and dark hair. Her elegant hands had long fingers. She had a slim figure and nice legs. She dressed with taste and was very elegant.

When she was walking on the street with her son, my older brother Reuven, nobody believed that they were a mother and a son: they looked like brother and sister. He was eighteen and she was thirty-nine.

She will always be young and beautiful. No-one has seen my mother Leah-Liza Gordon grows old.

When she was killed she had just turned forty.


It was the summer of 1941. The war started for us on Sunday, June 22, 1941. On that very day, Sunday, the Germans were bombing Lithuania. Everything happened so suddenly, unexpectedly, and rapidly. During one night the world turned upside down.... The Red Army was running away, and the officers had no time to take their wives and children along. Let alone evacuate the residents. Very few were lucky to escape.

On Tuesday, the 24th of June, the Germans were already in Kaunas.

Back on Monday, on the 23rd of June, my parents and my brother managed to get on the overcrowded train, heading east, hoping to escape...

But I was not with them on the train: exactly four days earlier, on the 18th of June, I had been taken to Kražiai, where my aunt Etel Schmidt (Eta Šmidtienė) with her husband, a doctor, Osher Schmidt (Ošeris Šmidtas) and their four-year-old son Benia lived. There was a river and a forest there: a great place to go on holiday...

My mother was sobbing during the entire journey on the train: how could one leave a little girl alone, going who knows where or how? When the train approached Vilnius, all three of them got off and went on foot to Kaunas, our home. Hoping I would find them there...

The trip was a disaster. The roads were overcrowded with people going back who failed to reach the Belarusian border.

Yet the most important thing is that baltaraiščiai were ruling the roads. While Germans had not yet started persecuting Jews, the baltaraiščiai, from the very beginning of the war, were capturing, mocking, torturing and shooting Jews. Right near Kaunas, my mother, father and brother were captured. After a long and terrible night, they let my father and my brother go, but they kept my mother and took her to a prison in Kaunas. She never returned from Kaunas prison. People were saying that women were taken from the prison and shot in the 7th fort.

She was so young and so beautiful...


It was just the three of us now, my father, brother and me, who were taken to the Kaunas Ghetto.

My brother was killed in the summer of 1944, when the ghetto was destroyed in flames.

My father jumped out of the wagon of a slave train taking ghetto residents to Germany. Before the liberation he hid in the forests for two weeks.

I’ve escaped from the Kaunas Ghetto at early January 1944 and survived, thanks to wonderful people who saved me, risking their own and their families’ lives.

These people are Dr. Elena Kutorgienė, Dr. Viktoras Kutorga, Povilas Jakas, Ms. Elžbieta Miniotienė and Ms. Zaksaitė.

Upon my request and the material which I submitted, the names of these noble people were immortalised1. Their names are engraved on the Honor Wall in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


My grandmother Eidl and grandfather Reuven Segal, my mother’s parents, died before World War II. They lived in Dūkštai (in the Ukmergė District) and they had 8 children: 6 daughters and 2 sons. Their names were Frida, Nadia, Liza, Dvoira, Sonia, Osher, Etel and Shneyer.

Only three families – those of Frida Bloshtein, Nadia Zibuts and Sonia Ptashek managed to escape to the depths of the Soviet Union and survived the WWII.

The remaining five families did not manage to escape, found themselves in Nazi occupied Lithuania and lost twelve members.

My mother Lea-Liza Gordon was murdered in 1941 at age 40.

Reuven Gordon (my brother) was murdered in 1944 at age 21.

Dvoira Himmelfarb with her daughter Rivka (Rita) were taken from the Vilnius Ghetto to Estonia and murdered there in 1944.

Osher Segal with his wife Edzia and a twelve-year old Sarah were in the Vilnius Ghetto. Murdered in Estonia in 1944.

Etel Schmidt and husband Dr. Osher Schmidt with their four-year-old son Benia were murdered in Kražiai in August 1941 (See “The Hill” (Šuliny), by Antanas Jonynas, Affinity Billing, 2007).

Shneyer Segal was murdered in Vilnius in early July.

Aleksandr Handin, Esia Zibuts’s husband was murdered in Dachau concentration camp in 1944.


My father, Haim Gordon died in Israel in 1978 at age 84. My mother’s and my brother’s names are also engraved on his tombstone.

Esia Zibuts, Nadia's daughter, survived Stuthoff concentration camp where she was transfered from Siauliai Ghetto. She died in Israel at age 73.

Shenyer's wife Mania and their son Arie were saved by a Polish family in Vilnius and immigrated to Israel in the forties.


The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum

Rescued persons (Yad Vashem website):

Shulamit Gordon-Lirov
other Kaunas Getto Jews

Information collected using:


Kutorga' doctors room in Kaunas 1936

Viktoras with wife Eugenija 1957

Viktoras 1986

Shulamit Gordon-Lirov. This picture was used for forged documents

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