by Danutė Selčinskaja
During the Nazi occupation years, when humanity was being trampled, and marauding and murder were rampant, when all effort was put toward turning the inhabitants of occupied lands into obedient and unfeeling creatures, meeting a dedicated person who dared to resist the spreading hatred seemed like a miracle to the unjustly persecuted. Jonas Paulavičius, indomitable enemy of the Nazi regime and veteran volunteer of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence, went on to become such a miracle to twelve Kaunas Jews, two Russian POWs, and two persecuted Lithuanians. Jonas made a decision: the only way to resist the terror of the Nazis and their helpers was to save at least several Jews who were suffering at the hands of the Nazis and whose lives were at risk.
Jonas Paulavičius was born in 1898 to a family of poor peasants. He learned the trade of the carpenter in his teenage years and could earn a living by himself, thus becoming self-sufficient and independent at a young age. After Lithuania declared independence in 1918, it soon became clear that, without a military of its own, Lithuanian statehood was doomed. During the period of its initial formation and the first stage of battles against the Bolsheviks, the Lithuanian military was comprised of 3,000 volunteers who responded to the December 27, 1918, call issued by the Government: Lithuania is in Danger. Jonas Paulavičius was among the brave men who volunteered immediately to fight for the freedom of Lithuania.