Two young couples poses outside in Vievis, Lithuania.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 82469
- Photo Designation
LIFE BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST -- Lithuania -- Family/Friends/Portraits
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Tsilia Godroff
Two young couples poses outside in Vievis, Lithuania.
Rachel and Wolf Godrov are kneeling in the back row.
- Rachel Katz (the mother of the donor) was born on December 15, 1915 in Vilna, Lithuania to Beila Kremmerman Katz (b. ca. 1875) and Arie Leib Katz (b. can 1870). Arie died of a stroke in 1940 and Beila was killed in the Kovno ghetto. Arie was a wealthy grain merchant and served as a gabbai in the synagogue. Rachel had six older siblings, all born in Vievis, Lithuania: Moshe (b. 1896), Riva (b. 1901), Chaya (b. 1902), Raizel (b. 1907), and Zachariya (b. 1910). Beginning in the early 1930s, Moshe represented the Joint Distribution Committee in the Baltic countries. Riva worked at the Jewish Central bank in Kovno as an accountant. Zachariya was also an accountant. Chava married Motel Nadel, the owner of a cigarette casings factory in Kovno. They had children, Bluma and Chaya. Raizel worked in Kovno as a secretary.
In the 1930s the Katz family moved from Vievis to Kovno, so their grandfather who was ill could get better care. Rachel attended gymnasia in Kovno and belonged to a folk theater group. There she met her future husband, Wolf Godrov (b. December 12, 1912 in Merkine). Rachel was 15 at the time. Rachel and Wolf married in Kovno in 1938. Wolf sold radios in the Kovno region and Rachel was a housewife.
In 1941 Germany invaded Lithuania and soon after forced the Jews of Kovno into a ghetto. Rachel and her husband were visiting his parents in Vievis where Wolf's parents and helping out in their bakery. The rest of Rachel's family was sent to the Kovno ghetto and remained there until its liquidation in 1944. It is likely that Zachariya was sent to Dachau. Riva, Chaya, and Raizel were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp where Raziel was gassed. Chaya and Riva survived as forced laborers to German landowners. Chaya and Riva were treated well and their health improved. They worked as housemaids. As the German army retreated they were returned to Stutthof where they were liberated by the Russian army. The first soldier who entered the camp was a Jewish Captain in the Red Army. Chaya and Riva returned to Lithuania by foot after liberation which took eight months.
Rachel and Wolf were caught in Vievis with Wolf's parents, Moshe Godrov (b. 1890 in Sireyai) and Tsirl Tessler (b. 1890 in Lutsk, Ukraine). Moshe and Tsirl Godrov had four children. Wolf was the eldest, Joseph (b. 1915), Dovid (b. 1917), and Sorele Rivka (b. 1925). A brother had been drafted into the Red Army. His wife, Altke Poorvu who was pregnant was with Rachel and Wolf as well. Two weeks after the German invasion, a ghetto-like unit was closed in Vievis guarded by Lithuanian police. Those who could work were taken out to be forced labor in building a railroad. The people from the ghetto worked until Rosh Hashanah when all the Jews were rounded up and marched to Semelishok where they shot 1,900 Jews on Yom Kippur from the area. The chief policeman that guarded the ghetto was in love with Wolf's younger sister, Sorele Rivka. He called Wolf out of the ghetto and told them that the Jews were going to be shot on Rosh Hashanah and that he personally would provide a shelter for them if Sorele RIvka would go with him. Wolf went back to the ghetto and told them what was going to happen. Most of them didn't believe him.
Wolf went out one night from the ghetto with permission of the police to see a Pole that he knew before the war, Stanislaw Wichert. Wichert had been a headmaster of a school in Warsaw but upon retirement he became a caretaker for an estate several kilometers from Vievis. The estate was only used during the summers. Wolf had helped him with electric generators. The second floor of the estate was empty, and he agreed to take in the family including Wolf's parents and siblings. Sorele RIvka said that she wouldn't leave her parents. but her parents refused to leave. Wolf and Rachel, however left and moved in to stay with Wichert and heard about the ensuing massacre. Only 11 Jews from Vevis and an additional seven from the surrounding villages survived the massacre. Wichert hid Wolf and Rachel in an upstairs bedroom and blocked the doors with wood so as to look like no one was living there in the bedrooms. For eight months they lived there, and he brought them food and provisions. After eight months the German army told Wichert that they wanted to use the estate for wounded soldiers and he had no choice but to acquiesce.
Wolf and Rachel then moved in with Zofia and Ignacy Karpovitch family some 12 kms away. Wolf had known them before the war after he sold them a radio and they became friends. They remained there for more than 2 years. During that time a provisional ghetto had been set up in the area. Karpovitch found out that Rachel's cousins were in the ghetto (Chaya and Katriel) and Wolf and Rachel begged Karpovitch to take them in as well. He did and they were able to stay until liberation. Karpovitch had seven children with a wife who was 9 years older them him. His youngest child during the war was only about a year. During the war he made alcohol and sold it. Karpovitch never turned in his radio which was punishable by death. He was always drunk and very poor but Wichert helped provide for the Rachel and Wolf as well as the others. It turned out that Karpovitch knew he had escaped the killing and had prepared a cellar for himself on the side of his house.
Wichert returned after the war to live in Warsaw and died there in 1957; Yad Vashem did not honor him as a Righteous Among the Nations as he did not have next of kin. Zofia and Ignacy were acknowledged as Righteous Among the Nations.
After the war Rachel and Wolf returned to Vievis. They lived there for three years and moved to Vilna in 1949. Beila, their first daughter was born in Vievis and Tsilia was born in 1953 in Vilna. Wolf worked at the railroad station. They later moved to Vilna where Wolf studied refrigeration and worked as a technician. The family immigrated to Israel in 1972.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Tsilia Godroff
Record last modified: 2015-10-01 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1181427