* 1915 – 1986
* Recognized in 1980
Romainiai I cemetery, Kaunas
About the rescuer and the rescue story
Alfonsas Sviderskis, who lived with his wife, son and father near Kaunas, agreed to rescue a two-year-old girl named Ruth from the ghetto and hide her at home. During the day, Ruth would play with her peer, Alfonsas' son Romas. After a while, Alfonsas agreed to hide Ruth's father, Mordechai Karnovsky, and two other brothers, Levas and Meilachas Vinikas. He set up a hiding place for them on his property, where Ruth also began to sleep at night to be closer to her dad. Alfonsas and his wife hid all this from his elderly father for fear of disapproval and to protect his health. Tensions were further exacerbated when the Nazis set up their headquarters in their small house. All the people lived to see the end of the war.
It is a beautiful coincidence that while Alfonsas was secretly rescuing Jews in his house, his brother Stasys Sviderskis was also rescuing Jewish children after transporting them out of Lithuania. Neither brother knew about the other's activities at the time.
From Hands that Bear Life and Bread, notebook 2,
State Jewish Museum of Vilnius Gaon. Vilnius, 1999
Pushing a pram in front of him, a man moved away from the ghetto fence. Faster, faster home! His wife's gentle, kind voice still rang in his ears:
"Let's raise this girl, Alfonsas. She will be a friend to Romukas." But will it be easier at home, will it be safer - a stranger's child in a pram, a little Jewish girl, and the whole family could be shot for hiding her. "Keep her safe, Sviderskis", said the man instead of saying goodbye. But both Alfonsas and his wife had already made up their minds - Rūtelė was staying with them.
The months and years passed by, full of anxiety, and nobody knew when the war would end and who would win. In the spring of 1944, when the news from the front made it seem that the end was near, Alfonsas went to Vilijampolė on business. The sounds of loud music came over the loudspeaker from the ghetto area, but they could not drown out the heartrending screams. Alfonsas saw executioners with guns dragging half-naked children out of their homes and hurling them at trucks like bricks. That image was etched in his memory for the rest of his life. And every time he looked at Ruth, Alfonsas was horrified to think: she could have been one of those.
Trouble, as we know, doesn't walk alone - the Sviderskis' farmhouse was temporarily occupied by the Hitlerite headquarters. But the owner was no pushover either: he had already dug a hiding place near the house. He worked carefully, at night, and even his father, did not know the real purpose of the hiding place. His father's peace of mind had to be especially preserved: since the beginning of the war, the family had not heard from his younger brother Stasys, the head of the Druskininkai Pioneer Camp. "Don't let any misfortune befall the family," his father would occasionally nod his head. And when the Germans had already retreated, and the brothers Levas and Meilachas Vinikas emerged from the bunker, squinting from the glaring sun, followed by Ruth's father, Karnovský, the old man gasped: this was done in the very heart of the Hitlerites! But in his heart he was satisfied: good Alfonsas, he had not brought shame on the Sviderskis.
- The fascists were also a benefit," Alfonsas joked. They turn on the light and don't realise that the lights in the bunker are on at the same time. I had, after all, run the wires underground.
Rescued persons (Yad Vashem webpage):
Ruth and Alfonsas. Israel, 1980