"A superb storyteller, Manobla draws the reader in brilliantly as she herself transforms from someone disconnected with her past into a kind of Jewish Sherlock Holmes, uncovering the horror of the Holocaust and the heroism of a few families while harboring a sense of hope for the future." Steve Linde, Jerusalem Post, Weekend Magazine
The author’s education and research took place over many years. Her first trip to Zagare was in 1995. It culminated 17 years later in 2012 in a visit to attend the ceremony honoring the descendant of a Lithuanian family who had hid a Jewish family of Zagare during the Holocaust. The author used her training as a journalist to track down the only Jewish survivor to verify the bravery of this Lithuanian family during the war. She then passed the information on to Yad Vashem who designated the family as rescuers honored as The Righteous Among Nations.
This memoir is exceedingly useful as a guide to the process of galvanizing support for a cause beyond one of Manobla's priorities - making sure that the Lithuanian rescuers were honored. The author and others worked very hard at getting the local population of Zagare to acknowledge their citizens’ active participation and complicity in the rounding up and the killing of the Jews of Zagare in 1941. The author read the history, interviewed current residents, and consulted with historians and other descendants who have dealt with these issues. She learned that the conventional bureaucratic historical narrative is one that is based on the premise that there was a double genocide in Lithuania which essentially equates Soviet persecution of Lithuanians with German persecution of Jews. She lays out the many ways she and others, both Jewish and Lithuanian, worked at chipping away at this mentality that reveals latent anti-Semitism and indifference. And they found that because the beliefs were so entrenched, changing them was a very slow process. But they were successful in making sure signage was mounted in more central locations and that signage specifically mentions that Jews were buried in mass graves and Lithuanian neighbors had been collaborators.
There are many lessons to be learned from this book that can be applied to other communities, especially those communities which were in countries that were part of the former Soviet Union.
Included is a useful list of sources as well as photos.
To see the Zagare Facebook page where there are lot of old photos of Jewish residents of Zagare, click here.
To read about the role of Lithuanians in the extermination of the Jewish community during World War II, click here.
David Towb – brother of Israel and Myer; married Batya (Berthe) Moeller; second wife Rose
Ya’akov (Jack) Towb – son of David and Batya
Harry Towb – son of David and Berthe
Rebecca Towb Landau – daughter of David and Berthe
Leah Towb Landau – daughter of David and Berthe
William Towb – son of David and Berthe; married Sylvia Jacobs
Ursula Sara Towb Manobla – daughter of William and Sylvia; author
Ze’ev – son of Ursula
Rona Gabrielle Abadi – granddaughter of Ursula
Elizabeth Towb – daughter of William and Sylvia
Massie Towb Brodie – daughter of David and Berthe
Louis Towb – son of David and Berthe; married to Elsie
Joy Towb Hall – daughter of Louis and Elsie; married to Maynard
Jessica – daughter of Joy and Maynard
Suki Towb Pay – daughter of Louis and Elsie
Lena Jackson Jacobs – mother of Sylvia Jacobs (see above)
Yitzhak Moeller - grandfather of Batya Moeller (see above) )
Ze’ev Wolf – son of Yitzhak
Friends and Aquaintances
Julius Bieliauskas – son of Roza
Viktor and Irina Brailovsky
Loenid Barilovsky – son of Viktor and Irina
Galia Barilovsky – daughter of Viktor and Irina
Pavel Abramovich – brother-in-law of Vladimir Prestin
Anatoly (Natan) Sharansky
Edmundas Tiesnesis – son of Miriam
Vidmantas Mendelsonas – son of Isaac
Len Yodaiken (Judeikin)
Wolf and Rose Zwi
Riva Trusfus Yoffe – daughter of Batya
Ruth Yoffe- daughter of Riva
Ya’akov – son of Ruth
Misha Yoffe – son of Riva
Eta Trusfus Kolodnaya – daughter of Batya
Irle Trusfus – daughter of Batya
Allan Blacher – relative of Batya Trusfus
Raymond and Gill Woolfson
Siauliai ghetto, Lithuania
Antwerp, the Netherlands
Kazan, Soviet Union