* 1987 – 1966
* Recognized in 1977
Sutkai village cemetery, Šakiai district
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Bronislovas was born on 15 February 1897 in the village of Kurynė, nowadays in Šakiai district. Bronius was the ninth of eleven children in his family. His childhood was spent in Kurynė, which at that time belonged to the parish of Zapyškis. After graduating from school, Bronius obtained the rural teacher's certificate. He started teaching in 1911 in his village.
B. Paukštys sincerely cared for the education of the village people, worked not only with pupils, but also with the youth of the village, prepared courses for them; taught everyone who wanted to learn how to read and write, and distributed Lithuanian press. B. Paukštys did not shy away from the farmers either, he took part in their meetings, explained the laws, and fostered the hope of Lithuania's independence with enthusiasm.
At the age of 28, while distributing the press, he learned about the Salesians. He thought for a long time about going to Italy to join them. After meeting Fr. A. Skeltis, he decided to become a Salesian and in the autumn of 1925, together with his brother Juozas and eight other Lithuanians, he left for Italy.
Two years later, Bronius was admitted to the novitiate and in 1928 he became a Salesian. After that, he studied philosophy for two more years at the International Institute of Philosophy in Turin (Valsallice), together with eight other Lithuanians.
B. Paukštys, after completing his studies in philosophy, practiced for three years. He spent one year at the Borgo Manero (Novara) institution and the remaining two years in Turin, where he assisted the seminarian Pranas Petraitis in editing the "Salesian News" in Lithuanian.
From 1931 to 1935, B. Paukštys studied theology at the International Theological Institute in Turin, together with eight other Lithuanians.
Fr. B. Paukštys not only edited, but also wrote extensively himself. In 1929, the Marijampolė bookstore "Šaltinis" published his first work - a six-act drama "Sūnus Vėjavaikis" (an approximate translation would be "Prodigal Son").
In 1937, Fr. Bronius Paukštys returned to Lithuania and was appointed administrator of the Lithuanian Salesian Centre in Vytėnai. At the same time, he taught Lithuanian language and literature at the Salesian school. After that, Fr. Bronius Paukštys served for one year in the parish of Saldutiškis, from where he was recalled to Kaunas, to the parish of the Most Holy Trinity.
From Kaunas he returned to Vytėnai as a sin-observer. When necessary, he came to Kaunas: he led retreats at the Kaunas Interdiocesan Seminary, and preached in various parishes, calling everyone to God with his powerful voice. In the beginning of 1942, when Fr. Dr. Pranas Petraitis, the pastor of the Holy Trinity Parish in Kaunas, was appointed rector of the Kaunas Inter-Diocesan Seminary, Fr. Bronius Paukštys became the rector of the Holy Trinity Parish.
During the German occupation, Fr. Bronius Paukštys began to courageously protect and rescue Jews. [...] Bronius Paukštys provided birth certificates for about 120 Jewish children and personally hid Jews condemned to death. During the day, he sheltered Jews who had escaped from the ghetto in the parsonage and in the basement of the church, and at night, he took them to the village to the farmers. 25 people were saved thanks to the efforts of B. Paukštis. The priest was reprimanded several times by the heads of the Lithuanian priesthood, who accused him both of placing the Church in danger and casting doubt on the priesthood’s loyalty to the occupation authorities. On one occasion, the priest was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo, which was monitoring him. At the end of the occupation, Bronius Paukštys was forced to hide in a nearby village with a member of the Jewish underground, Avraham Golub (later Tory), who, together with the priest, had been active in rescuing the Jews from the Kaunas ghetto.
In spite of these humane and heroic activities, in 1946 the Soviets sentenced Fr. Paukštys to imprisonment in Siberia. He had to endure 10 years of imprisonment, where he lost his health, even though he was well-grown, and from his youth he was not afraid of any hard work. He returned to Lithuania in 1956, but continued to be persecuted by the Soviet authorities. In his letter (October 17, 1963), to Fr. Anatanas Sabaliauskas "In order to save my neighbour, I had to flee my home three times from the ravages of the Nazi-Gestapo. I spent 6 or 7 thousand marks, but how many worries, how many sleepless nights, how many poor and dangerous journeys and how much fear! After all, I was then laying down my head for my neighbour. And I was probably the only person in the Baltics who saved the lives of about 200 people. True, I did not boast, I did not run right and left about it. However, Stalin found out and gave me a prize... he sent me to Siberia for ten years for hard work breaking stones and building roads".
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem web page):
Masha Aizinbud Rabinovich
Pnina Sukenik Gofer
Shulamit Sheinzon Karbi
Pesya Buz Kissin
Rachel Rosenzweig Levin
Avraham Golub Tori
Pnina Ushpitz Sheinzon Tori
In the front row, first from the left - Bronius Paukštys, third - Jonas Žemaitis. Switzerland, 1939