* 1923 – 2007
* recognized in 2010
Vievis cemetery, Vievis
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Antanas Lučiūnas was one of the five children of Cezaris and Marija Lučiūnas.Cezaris Lučiūnas was a farmer. He lived with his family in Vievis. They had a 7-hectare-plot of land. Everybody in Vievis knew Cezaris. He was open to everyone. Therefore, people respected and trusted him. Even store workers trusted the children of Cezaris and allowed them to pay for the goods later. On Wednesdays, people who wanted to buy a horse in the market of Vievis would take it to Cezaris in order to hear his opinion, because people knew that Cezaris knows the most about horses. Cezaris acquired knowledge of horses during the World War I, when he and his brother were taken to Russia. Cezaris spent five years there and he probably became a veterinarian. After returning to Lithuania, Cezaris bought a stallion from Sweden. It was the first such animal in Lithuania. Everyone was fascinated by this stallion - one landowner offered Cezaris half of his manor for the stallion, the President Smetona had come to see the stallion with his own eyes, thieves tried twice to steal the stallion. But the horse would start neighing so loudly in the forest that no theft did succeed. The horse contributed to the construction of Vievis church - it was so strong that builders used the stallion to pull building materials. There were a lot of diplomas at home, and the family would receive money for breeding, because the offspring of this horse were considered pure-bred. After the death of his wife Monika in 1938, Cezaris became widower with five children – Antanas, Jonas, Elena, Mikalina and the youngest Veronika, who was three years old. The remains of his wife were laid out in the church, and its bells rang during the entire funeral procession.
Everything changed when the war started - the family had even nothing to eat. The daughter Mikalina remembers cooking of soup in winter, and in the summer, they ate apples growing in the garden. He needed to provide for a large family and, therefore, Cezaris, with his older sons Antanas and Jonas, started working as a carrier in a tar (according to other sources, in a resin and turpentine) factory - he used to transport barrels of tar. Jonas was 16 years old at the time. The factory belonged to Meir Koren, a Jew from Vievis. In 1940, the Soviets nationalized the factory of Meir, and Meir himself stayed in the factory, where he worked as a laborer. Cezaris was friends with Meir and the children of Cezaris since their young age communicated with the Jewish children who lived in Vievis. Everyone knew each other. Moishe and Benjamin, the sons of Meir, were peers and friends with Jonas and Antanas. During the war, Cezaris hid at home the Russian prisoner Andriuša for a couple of months. The men would leave somewhere at night, but the children did not know where exactly. During the war, Cezaris would not only let beggars in to his home, but he also allowed them stay on the stove for the night so that they could warm up. Cezaris shared the only food he had at the time - frozen potatoes with mothers and children, who came from Vilnius to Vievis looking for food.
When the war started, the Gestapo has set up its abode on the same street, a few houses away from Cezaris’ house. Just a few days after the start of the war, all Jews of Vievis were surrounded and taken by carriages to Semeliškės. Among them was the family of Meir Koren except for Liuba, their 11-year-old daughter, whom Cesaris had already hidden at his place. Cezaris and other workers of the factory approached the management asking to let Meier out, at least temporarily. They explained that only Meier will be able to solve the technological problem that had arisen. Meier was let go a day before the ghetto massacre. During the massacre, the son Meier, his aunt and two other Jews were hiding in a pre-prepared hideout. The wife Meier and other Jews of the ghetto were killed. When the night came, the members of the Koren family, who were hiding in the hideout, came through the woods to Vievis to Cezaris’ house. Here they found their father Meier and his 11-year-old daughter Liuba. Meier had an official work permit, and other members of the Koren family were hiding at the home of the Lučiūnas family, where they spent 8 months. Not only Cezaris Lučiūnas, the head of the Lučiūnas family, but also all his children helped the Jews to survive. Only in June 1942, when someone noticed them, the members of the Koren family were forced to change their hideout. At the end of the war, Cezaris sensed impending disaster and took all five children to Smeliškės. When they were retreating, the Germans burned the house of Cezaris because Russian soldiers were staying there. When the family returned to Vievis, their neighbour allowed them to stay in the vacant house. But the family was left with nothing because everything had burned. Cezaris‘ health was strongly affected by all the troubles and turmoil. He fell ill and died at the age of 65 after spending a couple of months bedridden.
Five children were orphaned after the death of their father. The children did the best they could. The older ones took care of the younger ones. Some stayed in Vievis, others left. Antanas stayed in Vievis and managed the farm. All 7 hectares. Antanas and Jonas looked after and supported the Lučiūnai children. Antanas inherited from his dad a taste for horses. He used to buy horses in Kėdainiai and sell them in Vievis. In 1949 Antanas married Janina. Antanas's sister Veronika speaks of Janina as a woman of incredible kindness. Antanas and Janina had twins twice. Unfortunately, one of the children died in infancy. Antanas's younger sister Veronika, who lived with her other sister Elena in Vilnius, used to visit Antanas and Janina in the summer. Veronika says that she always felt at home with Antanas.
Marija ir Cezaris Lučiūnas. Vievis (around 1928)
Antanas in the middle with the Koren