From Opera Star to Holocaust Hero

A tenor in the world of European opera, Kipras Petrauskas also taught music and helped found the Lithuanian National Opera. However, this singer’s greatest role came during the Holocaust.

Kipras Petrauskas and his wife – Elena Žalinkevičaite-Petrauskienė, a famous Lithuanian actress and poet – found themselves tasked with an important request. In the spring of 1942, the Nazis occupied Lithuania and began slaughtering the country’s Jews. One of Lithuania’s most well-known Jews, violinist Daniel Pomeranz, came to the couple with a request. Would they shelter his daughter?

Of course Kipras and Elena could not allow the six-month-old baby, named Dana, be murdered by the Nazis. So they took the little girl in as their own (along with their own three children) and uprooted their own lives and careers. Being public figures, the two could not easily hide a new addition to their family. So first, the couple moved to a rural village in Lithuania. Then, to escape the Nazis and public scrutiny in their own homeland, they headed to Austria and to Germany.

Kipras and Elena continued to shelter Dana until the end of the war. Then, the Petrauskas family returned to Lithuania, where they found Dana’s parents and reunited the girl with her family. But for decades, Dana – herself an accomplished violinist like her father – considered Kipras Petrauskas and his wife Elena to be her second parents. And in 1999, Yad Vashem recognized the brave and loving couple – Kipras Petrauskas and Elena Žalinkevičaite-Petrauskienė – as Righteous Among the Nations.

Tags: Advocates and Allies History Holocaust Kipras Petrauskas Lithuania music Video Yad Vashem

More From Fellowship Blog

Faces of The Fellowship: Abir and Sharon

Fellowship Blog

Faces of The Fellowship: Abir and Sharon

Abir and Sharon, a married couple in Israel with a young family, met while serving in the IDF.

face masks for elderly during COVID-19 crisis

Fellowship Blog

Project Spotlight: Face Masks to 3,000 Elderly

Thanks to your generosity, The Fellowship approved the distribution of disposal and reusable face masks to 3,000 elderly in Israel.

Yitzhak Shamir, Haifa port

Fellowship Blog

A Son in the Land of Israel

The seventh Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir served as a military leader and politician before and after the establishment of the modern Jewish state.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay informed about issues affecting Israel, the Jewish people, Jewish-Christian relations, receive daily devotionals, and more.