Navickaitė - Motiejūnienė Stasė
* Recognized in 2000
Pašvitinis village cemetery,
Šiauliai district, Lithuania
Navickaitė - Motiejūnienė Stasė
About the rescuer and the rescue story
When I learned this unusual story, I was determined to reveal it to the public, but it was several years before I was mature enough for this mission. I could tell a lot about my trip to Žagarė and Pašvitinys, but let the documents do the talking.
The first testimony:
I, Marijona Tiesnesienė, was born on 10.07.1924 in Pakruojis district, Pašvitinys town. As a child, I was Mera Šneiderytė. My father Israel (Srolis) Schneider was engaged in small trade in agricultural products. Mother, Sara Schneider, was a homemaker. There was still a son Judelis in the family. After the Nazis occupied Lithuania, we were all imprisoned in the Žagarė ghetto.
The father soon escaped from the ghetto. He was not at all like a Jew. I do not know his further fate. Mother and brother were killed in the Žagarė ghetto.
While shooting Jews in the town square of Žagarė, one of the shooters - Vladas Beleckas - approached me. I remembered him from before the war - he used to come to Pašvitinys to show movies - he was a cinema mechanic. V. Beleckas told me to go and say that I am Lithuanian. V. Beleckas stated the same to his lieutenant commander. I was handed over to the deputy chief of the Žagarė police Kazys Liutikas - "until everything becomes clear".
I was accommodated in a large apartment of K. Liutikas in Žagarė. Kazys Liutikas and his wife Justina treated me decently, but soon a midwife from Pašvitinys Šukienė officially declared that I am Jewish and that she remembers my birth. I was locked up in the Žagare police cell.
Lutikas brought me food twice a day. During the day, I was allowed to go out and be alone in a high school classroom under the protection of a guard. Once, while I was sitting on the classroom windowsill, priest Kazys Kavaliauskas approached me. I told him everything. Priest Kavaliauskas asked who I knew in Pašvitinys. I listed Navickas, Beleckis, priest Teišerskis and others. Kavaliauskas promised to contact Pašvitinys and try to help me.
After seven days of arrest, priest Kavaliauskas and Liutikas came to the guardroom and took me from there. The next morning, I was taken to the Liutikai farm, located in the village of Strėliai, 4 km from Žagarė. They told me that, with the help of the priest Teišerskis from Pašvitinys, they found people in Pašvitinys who would testify to my Lithuanian origin.
Not long after, I was brought from the village to Žagarė for one day to meet Ona Navickienė, who agreed to recognize me as her illegitimate daughter, whom she gave to the Jewish Shneideri family as soon as she was born due to her difficult financial situation. The Liutikas gave Navickienė some clothes.
in 1942 in February, a trial took place in Joniškis. It was witnessed by Ona Navickienė (she came with her daughter Stasė Navickaitė-Virbickienė, now Motiejūnienė) and our neighbor in Pašvitinys Beleckienė, who claimed that she accepted the birth of Ona Navickienė (when she allegedly gave birth to me). Priest Teišerskis said that in 1924 he baptized the girl brought by Ona Navickienė (i.e. me). The court recognized that I am Lithuanian - Marijona Navickaitė - and appointed Liutikas as my official guardians. The immediate danger to my life has passed.
While living with the Liutikas, I met their Latvian neighbor Karolis Tiesnes, for whom in 1944 I got married in the spring (we registered a civil marriage). Soon we had a daughter, Irena, and then three more children: Nijolė, Edmundas and Irmantas.
I worked on a collective farm until 1979 (retirement). My husband Karolis died in 1993 and was buried in the Latvian cemetery in Žagarė. I currently live in the village of Žvelgaičiai, which is a part of the city of Žagarė.
I shared my experiences with Vytautas Gaižauskas, a journalist from the newspaper “Šiaulių kraštas”, who published an article in the April 25, 1997 issue of the newspaper.
The second testimony
I am Stanislava Motiejūnienė. My maiden name is Navickaitė. I was born on January 13, 1922 in the village of Tūbiniai, three kilometers from Pašvitini, Joniškis county (now Pakruojo district). My father, Edvardas Navickas, died when I was only seven months old. I was raised by my mother Ona Navickienė. Son Jonas and daughter Ona were still growing up in the family. I was the youngest in the family.
in 1941 in the fall, my mother and I were called for an interview by the pastor of Pašvitinys, priest Teišerskis. He said that it was necessary to rescue the daughter of our neighbors, the Schneiders, Mera, and asked if the mother would agree to recognize Mera as her illegitimate daughter. My mother agreed to do it. I didn't mind that either.
With our agreement, Fr. Teišerskis asked which of the neighbors could testify to this. The mother pointed to the neighbor Morta Beleckienė, who could say that she was present at the birth. Soon, the second meeting with priest Teišerskis took place, in which Morta Beleckienė also participated.
in 1942 February. A trial took place in Joniškis. My mother and I, Morta Beleckienė and priest Teišerskis were there. Marta Beleckienė's husband Bronius, who did not know our secret (neither my brother Jonas nor sister Ona) brought us to the court in his carriage from Pašvitinys.
My mother said in court that she was friends with a "zimagor" (ditch-digger) and then gave birth to a daughter whom she could not feed (she was a widow) and gave her to be raised alive in the neighborhood to the Jewish Schneider family.
Morta Beleckienė testified that she participated at the birth of Ona Navickienė's daughter. Priest Teišerskis confirmed that he baptized Marijona Navickaitė and knew that she was being given to a Jewish family to be raised. The court decided that Mera Šneiderytė is not a Jew, but a Lithuanian - Marijona Navickaitė. The young girl's life was saved.
During the war, I visited Mera Šneiderytė, who lived near Žagarė with Liutikas. I was with them for about a month. Everyone around us thought we were two sisters. Many people still think so...
The third testimony
I, Algirdas Beleckas, was born in 1932 in Pašvitinys town (now Pakruojis district). My father, Bronislavas Beleckas, was born in 1905 in the village of Pikeliai, in the county of Linkuva. He had two carts - he brought goods to the merchants of the town. Died in 1983.
My mother - Morta Beleckienė (maiden name Indrulytė) was born in 1905 in the town of Pašvitinys. Died in 1987. Both parents are buried in Pašvitinys cemetery.
People of Jewish nationality also lived in the town. We, the children, played together, the adults got along amicably. Next to our house lived Ina Navickienė, behind her - the Šneider family. Our family used to buy milk and other goods from them.
I remember that in 1941, after the Hitler’s army had already occupied Lithuania, my mother said that all the Jews of the town were expelled to Žagarė. I also remember how my parents said that they were leaving us children (I was 9 years old) alone, because my father would take my mother and neighbor Ona Navickienė to Joniškis, "to court" to save Mera Šneiderytė. Mother told us, the elders, that she would testify in court that Mera is Lithuanian, she was just given to be raised by good neighbors.
I only learned from my mother in 1947 or 1948 that she said in that court in Joniškys that O. Navickienė gave birth to a daughter, and she, Morta Beleckienė, was a bystander. I still remember how my mother told me that the priest Teišerskis from Pašvitinys told her that "there is no sin when you lie to save someone's life."
I remember that after the war, my parents visited Mera Šneiderytė, who lives in the vicinity of Žagarė, several times.
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem web page):
Information collected using:
Stasė with lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus
Stasė with Chaim Bergman
Stasė with lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus