Guiding Questions:

  • Why did Myra choose, at one point, not to try to leave Lithuania?

  • How did she and Boleck attempt to escape eventually? What happened?

Jews in the Baltic states had relatively few options to consider. There were almost no countries that would accept them since the German Jewish exodus had reduced possible host countries' desires for anymore Jews. And there was still a sense that perhaps they were too far away from Germany to suffer what the German and Polish Jews had experienced.

Before Boleck was killed in the Kaunas Massacre, however, he tried to escape Lithuania. He knew what was coming. He had come from Poland and seen German occupation firsthand. He wanted to get as far away as possible. He was looking at Shanghai, China, the one place in the world that didn't require an entrance visa. He had what he needed to leave and he had a plan: get to Moscow and then take the trans-Siberian railroad.

Polish refugees were coming into Lithuania and telling their stories. Myra's best friend, Clara Niviovsky, had taken another refugee into her home.  

Myra's parents, however, begged her not to leave for Shanghai. They still had a good life together in Kovno and at least they were together. So she and Boleck stayed. It was a fateful decision.

***

During the summer of 1941, though, right after the Germans invaded she and Boleck, together with her sister Hadassah and her husband, decided to flee further into Russia. They knew that Soviet territory was far safer than German-occupied Lithuania.

It was a courageous move. We don't know the details of their escape. We do know that they were caught in Jonava, a town about 32 km northeast of Kovno. They were not the only Jews trying to flee. The Nazis returned them to the Kovno ghetto. We can imagine that if Boleck had succeeded in leaving for Shanghai or in escaping to Russia he would have survived.

Watch the trailer to the film about the remarkable Shanghai Ghetto, where Boleck could have survived...