From the "Baltic Times"
Fighting to Preserve a Nation's Heritage
By Abdul Turay
July 9, 2008
VILNIUS - When Tobias Jasetas was a small child, his family emmigrated to England. One summer his mother decided to go back to Lithuania for an extended holiday to visit relatives. She took Jasetas, who was then nine years old, with her.
It turned to be one of the saddest decisions made by anyone, anywhere, ever. The year was 1939 and within a few months of arriving war had broken out. The mother and son were stranded in a country under Soviet occupation. The Soviets deported Jasetas’ relatives to Siberia. Then the Nazis came and things got even worse.
Jasetas is now 87 and still lives in Vilnius in a run down apartment with basic utilities. He doesn’t like to reflect on what might have been. He is the ultimate survivor. He lived through the first Soviet occupation, the Ghetto, the murder of his mother and other relatives. He escaped from the Ghetto just before the “Child Achtung” in 1944 when Ghetto children were singled out and slaughtered. He was hidden by a Lithuanian family.
He lived through the second Soviet occupation when Jewish culture was crushed. Today Jasetas is struggling to get by on a meager pension and allowance that he gets from the Lithuanian government as a survivor of the Jewish Ghetto.
However, there is one fight left that that this old warrior would like to see resolved before he passes on. It is a struggle that faces all of Lithuania’s 3000 strong Jewish community, all that is left of a once thriving population.
They want the Lithuanian government and people to recognize the enormous contribution that Jews have made to the Lithuanian nation.