Leah Aizen

Leah_youthLeah Aizen (bottom of photo) and friends

Leah Aizen was one of the daughters of Hirsh and Pia (nee Segal) of Shkud.

Jewish Gen’s Lithuania Directories Database indicates that Leja Aizen survived the Holocaust and was “Found in Russia” in 1943.

According to a family member, “On the day the war broke out she [Leah] was in Kaunas celebrating a graduation, her own or someone else’s … and she and her sister and a younger brother walked east.” Leah spent the next four years in Kazakhstan, returning to Lithuania at the end of the war, where she remained for the rest of her life.  A university graduate, Leah spoke excellent Hebrew, “of the classic variety, the result of her two years in the gymnasium (either in Shkud or somewhere away).” Her Latin and German were also excellent. “Upon returning after the war to Vilnius, [Leah] started teaching German in the Pedagogical University and soon was promoted to Head of the Department. She worked there for 50 years … teaching German and Hebrew.” Leah married while in Vilnius and had two children who now live in the US with their families.

Leah_40iesDr. Leah Aizen-Levit, in her 40s, professor at the pedagogical university of Vilnius

Leah Aizen-Levit “was very instrumental in keeping the history of Shkud alive and in [retaining] the memories of those killed there.” Her best friend from her early years in Shkud was Hana Brener (now Shaf-Brener), and Leah contributed to Shaf-Brener’s important Yizkor book, Testimony on the Murder of the Jews of Shkud, Lithuania.

The following describes a 1996 meeting with Leah Aizen: “Our last night in Lithuania we dined with Leah Aizen and her husband Elyahu Levitas….Leah’s father was a blacksmith and they came from Skuodas (Skud)….Leah’s story is heartrending and typical. The day after the Nazis launched their invasion on June 22, 1941, Leah and a brother and sister decided to get out. Dressed only in summer clothes they walked to the nearby Latvian border and after some days of bureaucratic delays they were allowed to cross. They walked 350 kilometres into Russia, were sent to Siberia, later to Kazakhstan where they spent the war. Leah’s father and the rest of the family, some 50 in all, were killed. People ask her why, after all this tragedy, she chose to return to Lithuania. She describes it as coming back to the nest, the only home she knows” (Arnold Isserman, “A Letter to the Family,” Shem Tov (Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada), December 1996).