news

Lithuanian FM pays respect to great-grandmother honored by Yad Vashem

Ona Jablonskytė-Landsbergienė saved a 7-year-old Jewish girl during the Holocaust.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis visits the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, March 2, 2023. Courtesy of the Lithuanian Embassy.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis visits the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, March 2, 2023. Courtesy of the Lithuanian Embassy.

The foreign minister of Lithuania on Thursday honored the memory of his great-grandmother, who had been recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations for risking her life to save a Jewish girl during the Holocaust.

On an official state visit to Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis took the routine VIP tour of Yad Vashem—the Holocaust History Museum and the Hall of Names, a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance—before a personal highlight of the trip, visiting the Garden of the Righteous to pay respect to the memory of his grandmother’s mother, Ona Jablonskytė-Landsbergienė (1894-1957), who received Yad Vashem’s highest honor more than two decades ago.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to visit Yad Vashem and bow my head to the millions of victims of the Holocaust—the greatest tragedy of the last century—some of [whom] were brutally murdered in Lithuania,” Landsbergis said in a statement after the visit.

“However, this place is also a hopeful testimony that even in the darkest times, there will always be people who will choose the light, regardless of any circumstances.”

In the fall of 1943, Jablonskytė-Landsbergienė brought a seven-year-old Jewish girl, Avivit Kissin, who was the daughter of friends, to her sister Julija Petkeviciene’s house and asked her and her husband, Tadas Petkevicius, to take the girl in after the girl’s parents learned that the children in the Kaunas Ghetto were to be murdered, according to Yad Vashem records. Jablonskytė-Landsbergienė even managed to obtain a false birth certificate for the girl, who did not look Lithuanian. While kept from having any contact with strangers who entered the house, Avivit was not forced to hide and lived there as part of the household.

In July 1944, the ghetto was liquidated and the surviving Jews, including Avivit’s parents, were sent to Nazi death camps in Germany. Her father was murdered in Dachau while her mother survived. The girl was reunited with her mother and her older siblings after the war and immigrated to Israel. In 1964, Avivit reconnected with the family that save her, who were themselves persecuted by the Soviet regime in the postwar years. Decades later, they were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center.

More than 95% of Lithuania’s approximately 210,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, a higher proportion than in any other country.

A total of 28,217 people from 51 countries—including 924 from Lithuania—have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates