Approved by the Lithuanian Parliament, the Seimas, and added to the list of commemorative days, the Day of the Rescuers of Lithuanian Jews was commemorated at Vilnius University (VU) for the first time.
In the Simonas Daukantas courtyard, the names of 1,785 people who saved the lives of Jews were read out loud by the state leaders, politicians, descendants of the rescuers, representatives of Lithuanian Jews, ambassadors of several countries, VU professors, staff, and students.
Jewish Rescuers’ Day was chosen on March 15, in memory of VU librarian Ona Šimaitė, who on 15 March 1966, was awarded the honorable title of Justice of the Nations of the World. To honor her memory and celebrate the Day of Jewish Saviors, an exhibition was held in the Faculty of Philology, in the leisure area next to the Kristijonas Donelaitis room.
To celebrate this important date, the Lithuanian Jewish Community presented a special plaque to commemorate the rescuers. The plaque, with multiple layers of symbolism and meaning, will be placed on residences where the rescuers lived and hid Lithuanian Jews from the Nazis.
“This is our thanks to the brave people who didn’t falter in the face of danger and who were not just the rescuers of Jews, but, as Icchokas Meras wrote, were also the blossom of goodness of their nation and heroes of the spirit who resisted the murderers,” LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky commented. Her family was also saved from the Holocaust by brave Lithuanians with big hearts, rescuers who number among the 900 Yad Vashem recognizes as Righteous Gentiles in Lithuania.
A total of 28,217 people from 51 countries—including 924 from Lithuania—have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.