rescuers of jews

Česnavičius Antanas

Antanas Česnavičius and Marija Česnavičienė

Antanas and Marija Česnavičius lived on a large farm outside the town of Vilkaviškis, with their three young children. In early 1943, the Česnavičiuses received a letter, written by 26-year-old Lazar Lapidus in his hiding place, and delivered by the local priest. Lapidus had been wandering for a year and a half, searching for a more permanent shelter, and had decided to write the Česnavičius family, long-time customers of his parents, who had owned a shoe store in Vilkaviškis. At first Lapidus received no reply, but then one day, a few weeks after he sent the letter, Česnavičius came to the farm where he was hiding, and took him in a straw-covered wagon to the Česnavičius home. Despite the risk to their lives and that of their children, the Česnavičiuses agreed to hide Lapidus in their stable and devotedly looked after him. On the eve of the arrival of the Russians, Česnavičius decided to leave Lithuania for the west, and convinced Lapidus to join them, introducing him as their adopted son. In the confusion of their travels, at a certain stage they separated. Lapidus went to Canada, where he had family, and the Česnavičiuses were forced to return to Lithuania. The Soviets exiled them to Siberia, where Antanas Česnavičius died in 1946. The rest of the family returned to Lithuania in 1960.