1893 - 1979

Recognized 2006 

Buried in Sudervė catholic cemetery,

Vilnius district, Lithuania

Graveyard coordinates:
54,70 64 02 (š. pl.)

25,23 18 84 (r. ilg.)

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In 1919 18-year-old Jewish girl Masha Shustef met Juozas Katinskas, who was of Lithuanian origin. They fell in love and got married, despite the disapproval on the part of their families. In 1920 their only daughter Onutė was born. The Katinskases lived in Kaunas. With time Masha reestablished warm relations with her relatives. Most of all she was attached to her older sister Berta. At the beginning of 1939 Berta, her husband Rafael Jafetas, and their two sons, Azriel and Tobias, immigrated to England. Onutė Katinskaitė visited them there in summer the same year. In August, when it was Onutė’s time to go back home, Berta decided to accompany her niece, rejoicing the opportunity to see her dear ones again. Tobias, her youngest, went to Lithuania with his mother. Then the WWII broke out; Berta and Tobias were stuck in Lithuania. 
With the German occupation of Kaunas Berta and her son found themselves among the ghetto inmates. The Katinskases fled to Vilnius; Onutė kissed her parents goodbye as she found a job in the town of Šilalė, where no one knew her. 
Berta and Tobias survived the two big Actions in the fall of 1941, and many other dangerous situations. They and their relatives, the Frenkels, were in many ways supported by Pranė Špokaitė*. On March 27, 1944, when the so-called “Children’s Action” was launched in the ghetto, Berta was at work at the “Silva” stocking factory. 14-year-old Tobias managed to hide behind the boxes with rabbits – he grew them illegally in the ghetto. The rabbits diverted the policemen’s attention and thus the boy’s life was spared. 
The Action pushed Berta to look for ways of fleeing the ghetto. With Špokaitė’s she contacted Juozas Katinskas and pleaded with him to save her son. A few more days passed and Tobias came with his mother to her factory, where Kotrina Katinskaitė, Juozas’s sister, was already waiting for him. Kotrina and Tobias spent one night at Špokaitė’s apartment and the next day took a train to Vilnius. While in the train the boy did not utter a word, fearing that his bad Lithuanian would betray him. 
The Katinskases lived in a three-room apartment on Kašoniu Str. in Vilnius. one room was Juozas’s and Masha’s bedroom, another one – Kotryna’s; the third one was rented by two young men – a student and a policeman. They were not supposed to know that an additional lodger would live in the apartment. When the tenants were at home Tobias had to keep absolute silence. He by no means could leave his aunt’s bedroom. For many long monotonous days he occupied himself with reading or playing chess, suffering from idleness, missing his mother. Once he had to spend several hours under Masha’s bed, behind the rolled carpet: the tenants celebrated something and the hosts participated in the celebration, keeping the bedroom door open. 
Berta Jafetienė did not survive: she was shot during her attempt to escape form the ghetto. After the war Tobias did not return to England to his father but remained with the Katinskases. He graduated from high school, established a family, and continued to live in Vilnius. His benefactors Kotryna, Juozas and Masha passed away in 1975, 1979 and 1985 accordingly.
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More information will be available soon
Tobijas Jaafetas
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