Paying the Ultimate Price
Mykolas and Jadvyga Šimelis
Rescuers of Jews were in danger not only from the Germans, but also sometimes from their neighbors, who resented the help they were giving Jews. The forester Mykolas Šimelis from the village of Tarpumiškis in Lithuania was murdered after the war by Lithuanian nationalists.
Despite the hostile environment and although Mykolas and his wife Jadvyga had five young children, they did not hesitate when, in November 1943, Meir Koren, his three children and his sister-in-law came to their home. Šimelis and his wife immediately welcomed the refugees in and prepared a hiding place for them under the floor of the house. Later, nine other Jews, members and friends of the Koren family, joined them. It was very dangerous to hide 14 Jews, and extremely difficult to obtain enough food for them. However, Mykolas’ determination did not waver even when, in April 1944, his wife died while undergoing surgery in the hospital. Mykolas Šimelis continued to care for the hidden Jews until the liberation of the area from Nazi occupation in July 1944. A year later, on 10 July 1945, Lithuanian nationalists murdered Šimelis for helping Jews during the war.
On April 4, 1983, Yad Vashem recognized Mykolas Šimelis and Jadvyga Šimelienė as Righteous Among the Nations.