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Yad Vashem to Honor Righteous Among the Nations from Lithuania Tomorrow

1 June 2011

On Thursday, June 2, 2011, Yad Vashem will hold a ceremony posthumously honoring Antanas Babonas and his sister and brother-in-law Antanas and Ona Korsakas as Righteous Among the Nations. Ms. Jadviga Korsakiene, daughter-in-law of the late Antanas and Ona Korsakas will receive the medal on their behalf. The event will take place in the presence of H.E. Irena Skardziuviene, Deputy Ambassador of Lithuania in Israel, Dov and Moshe Gurvich, children of the late survivor Sara Gurvich, and Genya Forkus, daughter of the late survivor Roza Luria, and friends of the family. A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 13:00 followed by the awarding of the medal and certificate in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem. The events will take place in Russian and Hebrew. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations dept. 02 644 3410.

The Rescue Story

Sara and Roza Furmansky were cousins who were born in Raseiniai, Lithuania. When the Germans invaded Raseiniai on June 24, 1941, they immediately established a ghetto and the Jewish youth were sent to forced labor. Shortly thereafter, on August 29, the entire Jewish community of Raseiniai was executed. Sara and Roza, at the time young women of 19 and 22 years old, hid in a haystack, and thereby survived the massacre. The following day, Sara and Roza went to search for a hiding place. When they arrived in Girkalnis, the girls turned to a former classmate of Sara's sister who advised them to seek out Antanas Babonas. Antanas burst into tears upon hearing of the murder of Sara's parents who he knew personally. Antanas had Sara and Roza hide in a grain silo and provided them with meals twice daily. The girls remained hidden in the silo until the end of December 1941, but when the cold became unbearable they moved into Antanas' home. He prepared a pit under the country-style oven where they could lie down curled up together. Sara and Roza remained at Antanas' home until the end of July 1942, when Antanas' maid discovered the cousins, and they hurriedly left to seek shelter elsewhere. They wandered about, earning their keep as seamstresses and household help.

In December 1942, Sara became ill and decided to return to Antanas' home. He received her with open arms, but during the Summer of 1942, a former classmate of Sara's came to the house and recognized her. Gossip began to circulate that Antanas had a Jewish worker in his home. Antanas brought Sara to the home of his sister Ona Korskiene and her husband Antanas Korsakas who lived in the town of Gailiunai. Ona and Antanas treated Sara as a family member, although she posed as a household maid. The couple's son Algirdas, would warn Sara if danger was imminent and she would them hide. Sara remained with Ona and Antanas until liberation.

After liberation, Sara travelled to Kaunas where she was reunited with her cousin Roza. Sara and her family moved to Israel in 1969 and in 1972, Roza moved to Israel with her daughters Bella and Genya. Antanas Babonas passed away in 1960, Antanas Korsakas in 1965 and his wife Ona Korsakiene in 1974. On January 12, 2011, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous at Yad Vashem decided to recognize Antanas Babonas and Antanas and Ona Korsakas as Righteous Among the Nations. Read more about the Righteous Among the Nations Program: