President Dalia Grybauskaitė

Holocaust rescuers – a model for courage and generosity of heart


Wednesday, 28 September, Vilnius – President Dalia Grybauskaitė awarded the Life Saving Cross to those Lithuanian citizens who despite grave danger to their families and themselves saved Jews from the Nazi genocide during World War II. Forty four persons were decorated posthumously.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the President invited all to observe a minute of silence in memory of Shimon Peres, former President of Israel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and a Litvak born not far from Vilnius.

“Today we lost the person who was dear to global peace, to the world and to Lithuania. This September, we see the departure of the second prominent Litvak. We have just parted with Professor Leonidas Donskis,” the President said.

The President underscored that amid the tragedy of World War II, there was a ray of sunlight – those who rescued Jews across Lithuania.

“All rescue stories touch our hearts and souls. They tell of great courage and compassion; readiness for sacrifice to save another human being, to save someone else’s child as your own; willingness to risk everything that you hold very dear,” the President said.

According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, life almost always offers a choice. It was there even during World War II.

“Those brave men and women could have lived their life without any risk. They could have stayed safe – all they had to do was to watch in silence, or pretend not to see or hear what was going on. But the rescuers saw only one path ahead: to open the door and share their home, bread and the warmth of their heart.   It all happened at a time of a very brutal war. But humanity – in action, not words – prevailed,” the President stressed.

Dalia Grybauskaitė wished all people of Lithuania to be proud of the noble and brave spirit of Holocaust rescuers and preserve the memory of their silent heroism.

This September marks the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust. Remembrance marches have been held across Lithuania in memory of Jews brutally murdered during the Nazi occupation. During World War II, 195 000 Jews were massacred in Lithuania.

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2016.09.28 13:52