* 1903 – 1956
* Recognized in 2000
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Both Radlinskas, Jonas and Felicija, were orphans. Felicija's dad died when she was still young, leaving her mother with five small children. And both of Jonas's parents died when he was a child. Both Jonas and his younger brother were brought up by the eldest surviving son, who was 16 years old at the time. Marytė, the Radlinskas' daughter, thinks that it was this circumstance, the fact that they both grew up in very difficult conditions and knew life in this way, that led to the development of their strong sense of empathy.
Already married and living in the village of Raižiai, Jonas and Felicija had three daughters - Elena was born in 1931, Rozalija in 1936 and Marytė in 1940.
The family lived in a rented house in Raižiai and had a farm from which they earned their living. Felicija's widowed mother lived with them. In addition to their three children, the Radlinskas brought up three more children: they took in Jonas's brother's young son when his brother's wife died, and they took in Felicia's brother's young twin sons when their mother passed away. All three boys were brought up to the age when they could join the army.
During the war, the family took in a Russian soldier who had contracted typhus and had fallen behind his troop. Felicija treated him with wormwood until the young man got back on his feet. The Radlinskas offered him to stay, but he refused out of fear that he would be considered a deserter. Jonas respected his decision, picked up a horse and took the young man to Alytus.
He taught his daughters throughout their lives that "one should do good to people, then God will help". The Radlinskas' mercy also saved two young Jewish girls during the Holocaust. In the autumn of 1942, Dora and Shifra Reznik, the daughters of a Butrimonys merchant and butcher shop owner, knocked on the Radlinskas' door. They were the only survivors of their family. Both were minors, one about 15 and the other about 16. Jonas and Felicija Radlinskas decided to hide the girls with themselves. They hid in various places around the farmhouse - in the cellar, the attic, the barn, and sometimes in the summer in the fields, in hay bales. There was also a hiding place in the room, under the bed, where Dora and Shifra would hide in case of unexpected danger. The Radlinskas's youngest daughter Marytė, who was only three at the time, was taught to tell the sisters about the danger - the child was told that when the family went out to the fields to work, if she saw a stranger in the yard, she should run to the Reznik sisters and point to the hiding place. Marytė did this more than once. Felicija taught the girls how to sew so that they would have something to do when they were in hiding all day. When the Radlinskas family gathered for dinner, the curtains would be drawn so that Dora and Shifra could join the table. Jonas and Felicija could not read, so Dora or Shifra would read the newspapers to them and try to find news about the front. The Reznik survived until the end of the war.
After the war, Jonas took the sisters to their house in Butrimonys, but the house was almost destroyed - burglarised with broken windows. Jonas offered to buy the house from them, so the sisters got the money they needed to go to their relatives in Kaunas. And Jonas and Felicija's family, afraid of staying in Raižiai, moved to Butrimonys, to their new house, which they renovated in the course of time. After a while, Felicija met a former neighbour from Raižiai at the market and received confirmation that she had done the right thing - after the war, Raižiai was visited several times by men who were looking for the Radlinskas as "good people who had saved the Jews".
Both Radlinskas were Tatars and confessed Islam. Felicija was a more fervent believer than Jonas, and visited the mosque more often. Obviously, the Radlinskis did not categorise people according to religion. Not only were there Jewish women hidden in the family of Tatars who professed Islam, but Jonas's close friend in Butrimonys was a Catholic priest.
Jonas died in 1956, leaving Felicija, her mother and three daughters at home. And even when life got harder, they shared their food with their even poorer neighbours. As the daughters grew up, one by one they moved to Kaunas. After the death of Felicija's mother, her daughters brought Felicija to Kaunas. And Felicija left the house in Butrimonys to one of the twins she had raised as a child.
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem web page):
Felicija and Jonas Radlinskis
Dora and Shifra Reznik