1905 - 1987
Buried in Pašvintys village's cemetery,
Šiauliai district, Lithuania
56, 15 63 33 (š. pl.)
23, 81 64 97 (r. ilg.)
Young Miriam Schneider was the offspring of the Jewish Schneider family of the town of Pašvitinys (Šiauliai District), where they had a small vegetable store. On June 23, 1941, the town was occupied by the Germans and a few weeks later the Jews of Pašvitinys were expelled to the ghetto set up in the nearby town of Žagarė. On October 2, all the inhabitants of the ghetto, about 3,000 Jews, were herded into the market square of Žagarė and the Lithuanian guardsmen opened fire on them. At the time of this slaughter, one of the shooters, who knew Miriam from before the war, came up to her and told her to declare to the police commander that she was not Jewish. She did so, convinced the murderous commander and managed to survive. Miriam was removed from the slaughter site by the deputy police commander who took her to his home. However, a midwife from Pašvitinys soon heard of this, and insisted that the girl was Jewish. Miriam was incarcerated in the jail until her identity could be clarified. There a local priest, Kazys Kavaliauskas, asked her if he could help. Miriam told him the truth and the priest thought up a scheme to save her. He contacted his colleague from Pašvitinys, the priest Jonas Teišerskis, who persuaded a kindhearted Lithuanian woman, Ona Navickienė to declare to the court that Miriam was her illegitimate daughter. In February 1942, a trial was held in the county court of Joniškis to establish Miriam's identity. Ona Navickienė claimed that in 1924 she bore a baby out of wedlock. Ona's friend and neighbor, Morta Beleckienė, claimed that she had been present at the birth. The priest Teišerskis testified that he had baptized this baby and only after the baptism was she given to the Schneider family that was prepared to adopt her. Stanislava (later, Motiejūnienė), Ona Navickienė's daughter, also testified to the judges that from her earliest childhood she had known that Miriam was in fact her sister. On the basis of these testimonies, the court ruled that Miriam was not Jewish. Since she was not yet 18, it was ruled that her guardian would be the Deputy of the Žagarė police, Kazys Liutikas, who had participated in the murder of Miriam's family. Once every few months, Ona Navickienė and her daughter Stanislava visited Liutikas and they acted as if they were really the family of Marijona, as she was called in Lithuanian. In the spring of 1944, before the area was liberated, Marijona (Miriam) married a Latvian and continued to live in Žagarė. After the war, she returned to using her true name. Miriam’s parents and sister, however, had been murdered.
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Miriam Schneider (Marijona Tiesnesiene)