Tag Archives: Lithuanian Righteous of the Nations

2022 Persons of the Year: Tadas Pocius & Barbora Urbonavičiūtė-Pocienė; Antanas Volskis & Stanislava Volskienė; Leonas Vaidotas & Stanislava Vaidotienė — in a village called Karalgiris



PERSON OF THE YEAR SERIES  |  LITHUANIA  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  HISTORY

by Danutė Selčinskaja

Berl Kagan (Kahan)

Eminent scholar, author, and Holocaust survivor Berl Kagan, often known as Berl Kahn (1908-1993)  renowned in his pre-war Lithuania youth as a scholar, lecturer and editor  (of the newspaper Dos Vort), worked after the war in New York at the Yivo (Yiddish Scientific Institute, later Yivo Institute for Jewish Research) from 1954, is widely known for his concise encyclopedia of Jewish towns in prewar independent Lithuania, the final volume of the encyclopedia of Yiddish literature plus a volume of addenda, and numerous other works that are regularly consulted in our second decade of the twenty-first century. Fewer people, perhaps, are aware of his much more deeply personal work, A Yid in Vald (A Jew in the Forest), his Holocaust memoir.

While hiding from the Nazis and their local henchmen in the Lithuanian forests, he felt the need to record what he, his wife Raya, and his wife’s sister Nechama had to endure in the Kovno Ghetto and, from 1943, hiding in the barn of the inspirationally courageous peasant Tadas Pocius (known to friends as Tadeush) in Karalgiris village and, later, in the woods outside the Pocius family’s farm. Since there was no paper to write on, Kagan would write in between the lines of a paperback that he carried with him. In 1955, based on these clandestine records, Kagan published A Yid in Vald. After his death, his daughters Ada Kagan and Miriam Kagan Lieber ensured that the book would appear in English translation A Jew in the Woods.

Defending History’s Person of the Year series

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Vilnius’s Future Monument to the Righteous Holocaust Rescuers belongs on Gedimino Prospect



OPINION

Seven years ago, this journal’s opinion section cheered the decision to finally, for the first time, honor one of the real Lithuanian heroes of the Holocaust era, the Rescuers, also known as Righteous of the Nations, in Vilnius. While praising the decision to so honor the inspirational Ona Šimaitė (1894–1970), Defending History lamented the decision to do so out in a suburb just north of the city. The name of our editorial in 2013 was “Vilnius Street Name Proposed for Rescuer Out in Boondocks; But Please Remove Nazi Collaborators from City Center!”

As ever, the Defending History community was pleased to play the role of catalyst while much more powerful and wealthy forces eventually came around to taking up the cause. In the end a streetlet was named for Šimaitė at the technical “edge” of the city center, not very traversed, but progress nonetheless.

Naturally, Defending History was there to report on the street name’s unveiling in 2015.

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Malvina Šokelytė Valeikienė is Defending History’s 2018 Person of the Year



OPINION  |  BALTIC HEROES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

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Malvina Šokelytė Valeikienė (1898-1981)

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