*1903 03 10 - 1992 10 16
*Recognized in 2001
Kariu kapu cemetery,
About the rescuer and the rescue story
In the 1960s, in the Vilnius publishing house, in the "Žinijos" society or in the center on the capital's street, which beginning and ending was marked by the two richest libraries in Lithuania, one could meet an unusual appearance person. It was not so much his long white hair as his spiritual expression that distinguished him from the crowd of passers-by. An artist, a thinker, a sage... Many recognized him: Antanas Poška, a traveler and scientist who returned from exile. A stranger who once traveled to India on a motorcycle, who communicated with Rabindranath Tagore. An Esperanto speaker... Poška himself described his activities as a kind of cultural anthropology: "The main topic of all my studies is cultural anthropology, which is the application of man to a constantly changing environment. It is the slow application of genes to a civilization breaking through at an unnatural pace..." Antanas Poška had to deal with the unpredictable pace of civilization more than once. In 1940 after the Soviets occupied Lithuania, he, who then headed the Vilnius Public Library no. 3, was ordered to destroy all ideologically "defective" books. Many efforts were made to save the valuable publication... During the German occupation, it was required to select the Judaic works needed by the Nazis for the Reich, and to destroy the others as worthless. Hiding these books was tantamount to a crime, but Poška also managed to save and hide close to one and a half thousand copies in Yiddish and Hebrew. Anthropologist, traveler and Esperanto speaker Antanas Poška housed and hid Jews Itzik Mucher, J. Todes and their families in the basements of the library, while Akiva Gerszater from Vilnius was fictitiously employed as a library guard, surnamed A. Gervetovski
From The Hands That Bring Life and Bread, Book 2,
State Jewish Museum of Vilniaus Gaon. Vilnius, 1999:
"He gave me an official certificate with the seal of the City Library and signed it himself. For a while, that certificate protected me from forced labor. /.../ Once I slipped out of the ghetto into the city to find some bread or potatoes for my starving family; I was stopped on the street by a Gestapo officer who, suspecting that I was Jewish, demanded my documents. The certificate issued by Antanas Poška saved me. After my entire family was massacred in the ghetto, I escaped from there and for a few days I was hiding in the ruins of houses. Having no other option to survive, I decided to turn to Antanas again. A. Poška welcomed me as a true friend, showing extraordinary humanity. For almost 10 months, until the Russian army entered Vilnius, Poška hid me in his apartment and fed me all the time together with his family. /.../ Neither at that time nor later, my friend did not even mention any kind of compensation, - later wrote A. Gerszater. Hiding "Gervetovskis" was dangerous not only because of his Jewish origin - A. Gerszater was a well-known person to the intelligentsia, the consul of Esperanto in Lithuania. The further destinies of I. Mucher and J. Todes are still unknown, and A. Poškas had a sincere friendship with Akiva Gerszater. Having emigrated in 1946 to Poland, and later to Israel, A. Gerszater wrote letters to his friend and savior. In those days, it was common to use Aesopian language - when writing about the weather, health, household. But when directly deciphering the correspondence of A. Poška and A. Gerszater, the curious security guards had additional work - all their letters were written in their favorite Esperanto language.
"The secrets of happiness lie in the person himself. If he is rich in spirit and healthy in desires, no one will ever take away his happiness. Everything is within us - all that remains is to wish. Then do not be sad, my heart, happiness is within you and it is yours."
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem web page):
Itzik Mucher with family
Todes, first name unknown, with family
Information collected using:
Poška at Taj Mahal 1931-1932