From the Testimony of Lea Barak, September 1973
I, Lea Barak Meirowicz, and my son Aharon Barak (who was 8 years old in 1944) were saved from the Nazis and from the Kovno ghetto by a Lithuanian by the name of Rakevicius and by a simple farmer, Jonas Mozūraitis, his wife Ona, his elder daughter Mefodija, his elder son Alfonsas, his daughter Zuzana and his son Zenonas.
It was in the spring of 1944, after the Children’s Aktion, from which we managed to save our only son, Aharon, when it became clear that we have to get him out of the ghetto and find a place with a Lithuanian. I turned to all those I had studied in the university with, but they were not willing to take the risk and save me. We negotiated with a Lithuanian by the name of Rakevicius, a brave and bold man, who was supposed to come and get our son before the massacre, but he arrived only at the beginning of May and demanded that I would join them because his wife had died, and there was no one who could care for an eight-year-old.
I have the typical face of a Jewish woman. I nevertheless decided to do whatever necessary to save my son. We put him in a sack, and when large sacks with clothes produced in the ghetto were taken out, we also put the small sack in the pile. The Germans at the gate were bribed, and so was the German who transported the goods. He received a large sum, and deposited us at the house where Rakevicius was waiting for us.
At night we drove in a street that was crowded with Germans. I was sitting next to Raevicius, with the sack at my feet. We stayed for a short time at Rakevicius’ place. He had three sons who were in the age of being drafted to the Lithuanian auxiliary forces. The SS came to round up all those who did not show up. All of us – the sons of Rakevicius, I, my son, and another Jewish family, the Zarkins who Rakevicius had kept at his home for three years out of sheer friendship - hid in a trench that was covered with large branches. Fortunately the Germans did not find us, but in the house they found Mr. Zarkin’s prayer book. The told Rakevicius that he was hiding Jews and that he would have to turn them in, but he denied the charges emphatically and the Germans left. It was evident that we and the Zarkins had to leave. Zarkin knew all the peasants in the area and soon found a place for him and for us.
At night we went on foot to the home of Mozūraitis, where we stayed until we were liberated in October 1944 by the Red Army. During that time the Rakevicius’ sons would come and visit us, to see if, following the return of the Zarkins, we didn’t want to return to their home too, but I preferred to remain at our present place. Mozūraitis was a poor farmer, his home was small and isolated. He had a wife and four children. He was a naïve man, who didn’t comprehend the danger in having Jews stay at his home; a delicate and loving person. He was sure that the Germans would not come to his house. What could they find there? His food was simple – yoghurt, potatoes and bread. The bread was bought with money that I gave him. He and his family cared for us lovingly. They protected us and out of the kindness of their heart did everything to help us. They admired Aharon and called him by a Lithuanian name – Algirdes. The would take him at night to a nearby river to wash, would take him riding on the horse. When the farmer saw how lonely I was, he would comfort me by saying: ‘See Madame, your son will one day be a great man! After it is very bad, it will be good!’.
Following my request they dug a bunker under the floor of the room so that we could hide when neighbors from the village would come on visit. We hid in that bunker when Katushas were fired at the village. Thus we were saved. The Lithuanian farmer was very proud to have saved a woman and a child from the Nazis. He took my son from house to house and proudly showed him around. It was his life’s accomplishment.
After liberation we returned to Kovno where I found my husband, Zvi Barak (Brik) and my sister and brother who survived, but I never forgot our rescuers.
When I left his home I left all I had at his place, including my sewing machine. After we arrived in Israel and beginning in 1950 until this very day, we have been sending him packages. He lives with his family in Lithuania and is unable to comprehend that we have not forgotten him and are helping him.
After liberation the three sons of Rakevicius came to Kovno. We left them our three room flat with all its furniture. Since then contact with them has been interrupted. I couldn’t write to Rakevicius because I didn’t have his address. I asked Mozūraitis to look for him, but he couldn’t find him. They must have left the village.
This family as well as the family of Mozūraitis deserve to be listed with the Righteous Among the Nations for their help to us and to other families.