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2012 05 12

Lithuanian citizen posthumously awarded as Righteous among the Nations

Lithuanian citizen Bronė Budreikaitė received a posthumous Righteous among the Nations award at an event organized by Israel's consulate general in New York and the American Society for Yad Vashem, along eight other people who saved Jews.
Izraelio vėliava
. / „Reuters“/„Scanpix“ nuotr.

Lithuanian Consul General in New York Valdemaras Sarapinas said at the event that Lithuania and its capital Vilnius had been known for Jewish people living there since XVII. On the eve of World War II, around 60,000 Jewish people lived in Vilnius, making 28 percent of the local population. Vilnius housed 110 synagogues and 10 yeshivas, according to the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the consul general, Vilnius was a well-known Jewish spiritual and cultural center, called the "Lithuanian Jerusalem."

"This is why this tragedy which happened to our Jewish brothers and sisters is even more painful and horrendous for us, Lithuanians. And this is why people who saved them from death deserve respect. These are people who are symbols of kindness and compassion for all of us," Sarapinas said.

At the award ceremony, Holocaust survivor Rosian Zerner, who was saved and hidden by Budreikaitė when she was six years old, shared her memories.

The event was also attended by heads of Israeli, Dutch, and German consulates general in New York.

More than 90 percent of Lithuania's pre-war Jewish community of about 200,000 were annihilated by the Nazis and their local collaborators during World War II.

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