1926 - 1996

Recognized 2005 

Buried in Užpaliai cemetery,
Utena district, Lithuania
Graveyard coordinates:
55, 63 91 26 (š. pl.)
25, 56 88 11 (r. ilg.)
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Anusė Keilsonaitė wrote in her letter in 2004:
"How many places I have changed - I can't count. And I just felt like at home in Norvaišiai. I was taken care of by Ona Janonienė and all her children: Vera, Genutė and Jonas. I also loved Emilė Kirvelienė very much. ”
After the German occupation of Wilno (today, Vilnius) on June 24, 1941, and the establishment of the ghetto, 11-year-old Anna (Anuse Keilsonaitė) with her mother Zinaida and older brother Mateusz were interned there. With the help of friends of Anna’s uncle, Dr. Lazar Epštejn, she was smuggled out of the ghetto in January 1942 and was brought first to the apartment of university professor Antanas Žvironas. From there, Anna was taken for a night by his married sister, 30-year-old Emilija Kirvelienė. Early in the morning, Emilija took Anna by train to Kaunas, to her friends Steponas Kairys, in his sixties, and his wife Ona, in her forties. When Lithuania was independent, the Kairyses had belonged to the Social Democratic Party and Steponas was one of the party’s parliament members and leaders. The couple had no children of their own and cared for Anna with almost parental love. They taught her some school subjects at home, because she could not attend a regular school. At the end of 1942, the Kairyses, who were actively involved in political activities, felt, that it was no longer safe for Anna to remain with them. Since Anna had a false birth certificate with a Lithuanian name, she was recommended as a housemaid to a certain family who wasn’t told about Anna’s Jewish identity. She stayed there until March 1943, when Veronika Janonytė, b.1923, Emilija’s niece and a medical student in Kaunas, came to visit her and found that Anna was working too hard for her age and not being treated nicely. Veronika picked Anna up and brought to her mother’s home in Narvaišiai village, (Užpaliai County, Utena District). Ona Janonienė, and her children, Jonas, b.1922 and Genovaitė, b.1926, sheltered Anna until the liberation in July 1944. All the family members knew about her Jewish identity, because the document she had was in the name of Marytė Janonytė, Ona’s deceased daughter. After the liberation, Anna lived in Vilnius for some time with Vera Zvironaitė*, Emilija’s and Ona’s sister and then moved to Moscow, where she found relatives. She kept in touch with most of her rescuers except for Steponas Kairys (later, Juozas Kamiskas), who had left Lithuania in 1944 and died in exile.
More information will be available soon
Ana Keilsonaitė
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Pictures fwere given by Rūta Paškauskienė