From the Testimony of Algimantas Rakevicius, March 2005
...When the Germans occupied Lithuania, the entire family got involved in the rescue of Jews. We did it because we had a very good relationship with Jews before the war. We were like one family – the Jews and us. We were used always to help each other. We simply couldn’t stand the murder of innocent people. We put all our efforts to help the Jewish people. And we didn’t stop helping them during all the years of occupation and this way rescued about 50 people from death. Many of them are alive today. The rescued people married, brought up their children and now have grandchildren.
The Jews that were hidden in our Rakevicius place gave us names of people imprisoned in the Kaunas ghetto and asked us to help them to escape from the ghetto. Thus we would go to Kaunas to organize the rescue of the Jews from the ghetto. We had several ways of how to do it. Our mother, Tekle Rakeviciene got sick with cancer in 1942 and had to go to the hospital in Kaunas. She was treated with X-ray. She had to take this treatment once a day after what she was free. So she would go to Viljampole district, where the ghetto was located and pass over a small piece of paper with a note to any Jew she met around the ghetto wall. There were names of people from the ghetto in the note and the description of the place where we, the Rakavicius family members, were waiting for them. The mother would also explain how to recognize her, while the father would wait (in the appointed place) for a better opportunity to meet the people and leave the city with the Jews. The smallest possibilities were used to guarantee success: disorder among the ghetto guards or sometimes the father himself would start a chat with the guards to distract their attention and so like. In this way we managed several times to help the Jews to leave the ghetto. All in all 30 ghetto inmates were saved and left their prison….
It took us 80 km to bring the Jews from the ghetto to our place. For the sake of secruirty we sometimes walked, sometimes could use a horse with a wagon. To cover this distance we had to spend three, four or even more days on route. We, the brothers, stayed at home and waited for them. Besides that we looked fro good people in the neighborhood villages who would agree to give shelter to the Jews. Our home became like a center of the rescue of the Jews. From there we would organize to what places one or another Jew would go. All the Jews that left the ghetto with our help survived and lived to see the end of the Nazi occupation. The process of rescue continued through all the years of the occupation.
There were several Jewish families who lived at our home. We all lived together as one family. We arranged a room for the Jews on the second floor. In the basement of our barn we also arranged another hiding place. One more hideout was set up in the basement of our living house. We dig up a tunnel from that hideout, which led to the banks of the river. There were many bushes on the banks of the river Sviesuvis, and we thought it would help people to hide there in case they had to run from our house.
We stood on guard during days and night, watching whether any policeman, German, or any other enemy were approaching. When we would learn that the Germans move towards us, we had to transport the Jews to other places and afterwards would bring them back…..