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Lithuania Names First Street for ‘Righteous Gentile’

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius unveiled the sign of the first street in Lithuania named for a non-Jew who risked her life to save Jews from the Holocaust.

The Sept. 22 ceremony was at Simaites Street, where a heavily Jewish crowd of several dozen people convened to honor Ona Šimaitė, a Vilnius University librarian whose actions helped rescue numerous Jews from the Vilna Ghetto.

Simaites, who was recognized in 1966 as a Righteous Among the Nations – a title conferred by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum on behalf of the State of Israel — arranged for the rescue of Jews, including children, by other Righteous.

She was also responsible for the forging of identity documents, and helped smuggle provisions into the Vilna Ghetto as well as carrying letters between ghetto inmates and residents of the city outside the ghetto gates, according to the defendinghistory.com site on Jewish news from Lithuania.

Separately, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite posthumously stripped a Lithuanian anti-communist fighter, Pranas Koncius, of a state honor because of his complicity in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, when many Lithuanians volunteered to serve the Nazi army and occupation government. “He was never worthy of this award,” the Baltic News Service quoted Grybauskaite as saying on Sept. 21.

On Tuesday, a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the genocide of Lithuanian Jews was held at the Paneriai Memorial.

Parliament Speaker Loreta Grauziniene and several hundred others paid tribute there to thousands of people killed at the site during the Second World War.

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