JONAS GIRDVAINIS

1899 - 1979

Recognized 2010 

Buried in Joniškis cemetery,
Klaipėda, Lithuania
Graveyard coordinates:
55,71 34 51 (š. pl.)

21,16 98 31 (r. ilg.)

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GRAVE SITE

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MARKED GRAVESTONE

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JONAS AND ONA GIRDVAINIAI
Jonas Girdvainis, a farmer, lived with his wife Ona and their 15-year-old son Kazys in the village of Barstyčiai, Seda County, Lithuania. At the beginning of 1942, upon the request of Vladislovas Taškunas*, a priest from Alsedžiai, the Girdvainis family provided shelter to 26-year-old Doba Feidelman and 16-year-old Mira Gafanovich, originally from Telšiai. By then Mira was the only survivor of her once extended family; Doba still had a sister. The priest Taškunas kept them and two other Jewish girls under protection in his parish, until he found a better place for each of them. Doba’s younger sister Sara, who was fair-haired and spoke fluent Lithuanian, went to live with the Mikalauskas* family as their maid. Doba and Mira, both looking recognizably Jewish, needed to find a place to hide. Jonas dug out a pit for them in his barn, and covered it with hay. Once a day the Girdvainises or their son would bring them food there; at night they would walk around for a bit in the courtyard, come into the house to wash themselves and their clothes, and talk to the family members. 
The priest Taškunas visited Doba and Mira every once in a while, always bringing Doba a letter from her younger sister. Once Sara even came to the Girdvainises with the priest – she missed her sister and longed to see her. From Taškunas the women knew that they were not the only surviving Jews and that other locals were harbouring Jews, including Ona’s brother Jouzas Straupis*. 
In April 1943 Jonas Girdvainis brought home from Telšiai a Jewish youth by the name of Yakov Gurvich. Gurvich had an authentic birth certificate with a Lithuanian name and was fluent in Lithuanian, and so he preferred not to hide but live openly, working for farmers. His self-confidence did not seem right in the eyes of Doba and Mira, they were afraid that because of Yakov the police might find them too. Yakov felt that his presence made them nervous and left in search of some other shelter. Doba and Mira remained with the Girdvainises until the liberation. 
After the war Doba (married name Rafael), settled in Šiauliai and lived there until her last days. Mira (married name Kagan) moved to Kaunas and trained to become a dentist. In the 1990s she immigrated with her daughter to Israel and passed away in Jerusalem.
More information will be available soon
RESCUED PERSONS:
Mira Gapanavičiūtė - Kaganovič
Doba Feidelmanaitė - Rafaelienė
Jakovas Gurvičius
INFORMATION COLLECTED FROM:
db.yadvashem.org
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DOBA FEIDELMANAITĖ - RAFAELIENĖ

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