* 1889 - 1952
* Recognized in 2001
Smilgiai village cemetery, Vilkaviškis district
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Juozas and Uršulė Norvaišaičiai lived in Smilgiai, Vilkaviškis district. It was the first marriage for Juozas and the second for Uršule. From her first marriage to Kudinskas Uršulė had a daughter born in 1911. Juozas and Ursulė's daughter Aldona was born in 1927.
Juozas was very well read, subscribed to a newspaper, and even his granddaughter remembers his calligraphic way of writing. He was very interested in politics, and was the light of the village of Smilgiai - people would go to him with questions.
Uršulė had a firm and strong character, and was not afraid to say the harshest word.
In the autumn of 1941, Juozas met people who had escaped from the Vilkaviskis ghetto in the forest. They asked Juozas for help - food and clothes. When Juozas returned home, he told everything to Uršulė, and the Norvaišaitis took in three Jewish women and two men. A bunker was dug in the barn, where the fugitives hid in the winter and in the summer they hid in the woods. Regardless of the location, whether in the house or in the forest, the Norvaišaitis always helped in any way they could. At one point a woman found a new hiding place, and later the Weber sisters went to hide elsewhere, but both men, Alter Kirkilovski and Haim Chernevski, remained under the Norvaišaitis family's care until the end of the war.
Unfortunately, someone snitched on the Norvaišaitis. They were searched, but no Jews were found in hiding. Nevertheless, Juozas Norvaišaitis was arrested and sent to Germany, to Saxony, to do forced labour. Only the women, Uršulė and Aldona, remained in the farmhouse and continued to hide and feed the Jews. During one of the searches, when an officer asked Uršulė where she was hiding the Jews, she lifted up her skirt and angrily told him that she was hiding there. Some time later, her daughter Aldona repeated the same thing, but Uršulė forbade her to do so.
In 1943, Juozas Norvaišaitis escaped from forced labour in Germany and returned to his village.
In 1949, at the age of 22, Aldona married Albinas, who was more than 10 years older. Albinas worked as an ambulance driver in Vilkaviškis. In the same year, his daughter Audronė was born. In 1952, a son Algirdas was born. Unfortunately, in 1952, Uršulė died very suddenly after having heart problems.
One evening, after a village dance, a group of ladies knocked on the door of Juozas's house and asked to be escorted home because they were afraid of some guy. On his way home, Juozas was attacked and killed by a blow to the head with a branch. Thus, in 1953, Juozas, who was only 51 years old at the time, died a violent death.
Aldona's relationship with her husband was not going well - Aldona liked an active cultural and social life, she wanted to go to dances and, when she had the chance, to go to the cinema or circus. Albinas was more sedentary, not interested in such things, and critical of his wife's outings. Around 1956, Aldona left alone for Kaunas, promising to bring her children with her when she found a job and a place to live. However, only her daughter Audronė, who was already 8 years old at the time and could express her will, was brought to Kaunas, while her son Algirdas was not given away by Albinas by force. Thus, over the years, the relationship between Aldona and her son drifted apart. Aldona has been bothered by this all her life.
In 1962, Aldona and her then boyfriend had twins. Unfortunately, the father of the children did not contribute much to their upbringing - not only Aldona, but also Audronė, who was 13 years old at the time, went to work to support the family.
Albina had a very strong and commanding character - she was not afraid of physically demanding work, but if she did not like something at work she was not afraid to leave and look for another job. In this way, she changed many jobs throughout her life. At the same time, she was able to finish her courses. Her interest in active living and dressing up did not disappear in her old age. She lived in Panemunė all her life, and only in her last years, persuaded by her daughter, did she move in with Audronė.
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem web page):
Information collected using:
A story told by Aldona's daughter Audronė
The house where the Norvaišaitis hid Jews