* 1896 - 1947
* Recognized in 2005
Veršvai cemetery, Kaunas
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Vincas and Marija Mikša lived near Kaunas, in the village of Veršvai. Vincas earned his living by floating logs on rivers and lakes, while Marija was a housewife. The family had two children. During the Holocaust, Vincas and Marija's son worked in the ghetto, delivering food to the ghetto. While he was there, he became very close to the ghetto prisoners. He tried to help as much as he could - the family knows that he used to take children from the ghetto in a wagon. In 1943, their daughter Jadvyga Mikšaitė Mitkienė lived in Vincas and Marija's house with her husband Jaronimas Mitkus and their 3-year-old daughter. Vincas, who worked as a farm labourer, knew how to operate a boat on the water and was assigned to ferry Jews brought from the ghetto to work from one side of the river to the other. This is how Vincas met Mikhail Chaimovich, with whom he befriended and passed on food to him.
When Mikhail and his friend Ima Berstein decided to flee, they found shelter in the Mikša and Mitkus home. Although they had planned to ask only for food, Mikhail and Ima hid in their house for 25 days and then dug a hideout in the backyard. During this time, the Kaunas ghetto and its prisoners were destroyed.
When the Germans retreated, Vincas and Marija's son disappeared - his fate is unknown to the family, and it is believed that he was shot in Kaunas or taken to a concentration camp.
Vincas and Marija died soon after the war.
Jadvyga and Jaronimas had two more children - the family raised three daughters, all three of whom went to school. Jadvyga raised her daughters and worked as a labourer, while Jaronimas worked in an anchor factory. Jadvyga was fond of plant-growing, she used to grow cucumbers in her greenhouses, but at one point the Soviet government banned even that. Jadvyga and Jeronimas managed to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
To this day, the daughters of the Mitkus family live in their grandparents' and parents' house. After all these years, the Mitkus' daughters have still kept in touch with Mikhail - Uncle Misha - and his family. The families invite each other to their holidays and travel to visit each other not only from Israel or Lithuania, but even from Canada.
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem web page):
Jadvyga Mitkienė's brother Edvardas Mikša, who worked in the Kaunas (Vilijampolė) ghetto and helped transport children (hiding them in wagons), brought food to the Jews, and provided other assistance. Fate after the war is unknown.
From left: Jadvyga Mitkienė with her husband Jeronimas Mitkus and their daughter Regina and Jadvyga's mother Marijona Mikšienė in 1944.