*1893 - 1989
*Recognized in 1996
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Samuel Petuchauskas - the vice-mayor of Šiauliai from 1921 to 1940 - was shot in Paneriai in the first days of the war. His wife Marija Petuchauskienė and son Markas were imprisoned in Vilnius ghetto for two years, trying every day to stay alive and not to die of hunger. A good acquaintance of Samuel Petuchauskas' was a famous lawyer Kazys Šalkauskis from Šiauliai. He and his wife Vanda Šalkauskiene helped them endure this difficult period: when Petuchauskienė found herself in forced labor in the city, they invited her to their home and fed her, besides, they always put food for her son as well. Professor K. Šalkauskis provided Marija Petuchauskienė and Markus with new authentic identity documents, with which, with the help of Stasė Ruzgienė, the Vilnius ghetto fugitives Markus and Marija Petuchauskas managed to reach the home of Šiauliai mayor Jackus Sondeckis and his wife, a teacher, Rozalija Sondeckienė, where they were warmly received. Later, Marija and Markas Petuchauskas’ were transported to the Sondeckis family farm in the village of Šašaičiai. There, the owners of this large farm - Jackaus Sondeckis' sister Eugenija Sondeckaitė-Kazlauskienė and her husband Juozas Kazlauskas - became their main rescuers.
J. Kazlauskas constantly looked after M. Petuchauskienė and her son Markas, looking for safe hiding places. Other members of this family were not left behind.
From the memories of Markas Petuchauskas:
"I, as a child who lived half-starved in the ghetto for two years, was especially taken care of by Jackus Sondeckis’s father, old Laurynas. We called him Papunis in onne of Lithuania’s language dialect. A simple villager, but an enlightened, clever farmer, Laurynas Sondeckis, handed over an advanced farm to the Kazlauskas, followed and implemented technical innovations on his farm. [...] This old man risked the lives of his daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren for us, people who were strangers yesterday. Everyone respected Laurynas. Soft-spoken, as if he did not interfere in farm affairs, but his eyes were like a mirror of the conscience of everyone around him. I will never forget his expertly carved clogs and the fur coats he gave me, which saved me in the cold winter."
But one of Kazlauskas' mercenaries was Vincė, the gunner from Alsėdis. Kazlauskas warned Mark to be careful. The family of Laurinas, the namesake son of Papunis Lauryns Sondeckis, also came from Getaučiai during the big taluks - haymaking, reaping, potato digging. Mark was especially protected by Laurinas’s daughters Aldona and Valerija: they taught him farm work and tried to protect him from a confrontation with Vincė.
Laurynas Sondeckis and Juozas Kazlauskas divided their duties: Laurynas looked for new hiding places and when he found them, he informed Kazlauskas, and he took Marija Petuchauskienė with Markas to another place.
Even when a critical situation arose, when, according to M. Petuchauskas, "while retreating with the Nazis, their helpers, Jewish shooters, policemen, employees of other collaborative structures, who stayed in the villages of Žemaitija, sowed suspicion and fear among the peasants. Therefor to find a peasant who would dare to hide a Jewish woman with a child, was almost impossible, but Laurynas Sondeckis was able to do that too".
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem webpage):
Šiauliai City Board 1925–1931 vice mayor Samuelis Petuchauskas, mayor Jackus Sondeckis, Juozas Naujalis
Rozalija and Jackus with their kids
Sondeckis' and Kazlauskas' families
Markas with his mother Marija