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Baltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) online

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Mr. Kersten. Where did you go from Sweden ?

Mr. Berzins. I spent 2 months more in Sweden and at the end of
November I was going to Switzerland for our ambassador conference.
It was in December in Switzerland, in Geneva.

Mr. Kersten. Now, the way in which you got from Latvia to
Sweden, as I understand it, from a previous talk I had with you, you
would rather not talk about that?

Mr. Berzins. No, I don't tell because it might be dangerous for
some people who are now under Soviet control.

Mr. Kersten. Where did you eventually go to, then? After Swe-
den, where did you go ?


Mr. Berzins. I was going to Switzerland, to the ambassador con-

Mr. Kersten". From there, where did you go ?

Mr. Berzins. From there, I was going to Italy, and I met in Italy
Professor Spekke and Camanis. From there I would go back to
Sweden, but in Berlin I was arrested by the Gestapo and I spent in
police prisons in Alexanderplatz and Sachsenhausen, the concentra-
tion camps, I spent 34 months and 14 days.

Mr. Kersten. For what were you arrested ?

Mr. Berzins. As a German-hater. That I was accused of. As a

Mr. Kersten. You were in a concentration camp where ?

Mr. Berzins. In Sachsenhausen. It is located north of Berlin,
some 35 kilometers from Berlin.

Mr. Kersten. Were you in solitary confinement?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. For how long ?

Mr. Berzins. It was 32 months. I was in Greatlager 2 months, and
in solitary confinement I spent 32 months.

Mr. IvERSTEN. "When you were in Germany at some time or other,
did you get some information about your family ?

Mr. Berzins. I got only two letters from my wife in August 1940,
through my friends in the diplomatic service.

Mr. Kersten. Where were you at that time ?

Mr. Berzins. I was in Sweden at the time.

Mr. Kersten. After that, did you get some information about your
family ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. After I get from my friends information that
my wife and children are deported in 1941, the 13th to 14th of June,
deported to Siberia.

Mr. Kersten. Your wife and family were deported to Siberia in
June 1941 ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Have you ever heard from your family §ince ?

Mr. Berzins. Nothing.

Mr. Kersten. Wliere were you when you got that information ?

Mr. Berzins. From Mr. Rosenstein's wife, the chief of army staff.
Rosenstein was deported, too. His wife was in Latvia and she wrote to
me in the concentration camp.

Mr. Kersten. Do you recall the year you got that information ?

Mr. Berzins. Wliat?

Mr. Kersten. Do you recall the year in which you got that informa-

Mr. Berzins. It was December 1941. I remember exactly. It was
the 9th of December.

Mr. Kersten. What happened after the war, then ?

Mr. Berzins. I was released from the concentration camp in Novem-
ber 1943, and I live under police supervision in Berlin. I could go out
of Berlin when the Russians were very close to Berlin.

It was the end of March 1945. Then I was going to a small place
12 kilometers from Jena and there I met our liberators, the United
States Army.

Mr. Kersten. You were then in some DP camps for a while and
then you came to the United States ?


Mr. Berzins. I was in DP camps in the English Zone in 1950 and
then I came over as DP to the United States.

Mr. Kersten. And you have been here ever since, is that right ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kersten. Now, as I understand it, Mr. Berzins, from your tes-
timony, it was Vishinsky, who was the prime mover in the takeover of
Latvia, and the loss of the freedom of the Latvian people, and among
those who suffered from the actions of Vishinsky, directly, were your-
self and your family ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct. Vishinsky is responsible for what
happened in Latvia, since. Latvia was occupied by the Red Army
and Soviet Russia. Vishinsky is responsible for hundreds and hun-
dreds of thousands of people who were deported to Siberia and who
were killed and found in mass graves in Latvia.

Mr. Kersten. What is your personal opinion of Vishinsky from
your own experiences ?

Mr. Berzins. Vishinsky is the greatest murderer in the world. One
of the murderers which has gone to this time unpunished. Vishinsky
is the greatest liar. Not only in Latvia. When he came to take over
and destroy our independence, each word which we heard today in
the record of the speech of the 4th of December were lies about the
economic life in Latvia.

Mr. Kersten. Would you place any reliance whatsoever on the word
of this man with whom you had this experience ?

Mr. Berzins. My experiences lead me to not believe a single word
spoken by this man. His words mean one thing and his hands some-
thing else. In words, he is the best democrat, but behind it he is work-
ing with his agencies to destroy democracy and freedom in the world.

Mr. Kersten. From your experiences with Vishinsky and other
Communists, would you say the same thing is true of other top Com-
munists ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. That was my experience for a long time because
Latvia was close to the border with Soviet Union. We were fighting
against communism all the time. In Pleskaw were Communist schools
for underground movement in Baltic countries. From this spy acad-
emy came residents to Latvia and Estonia, organizing the resistance
against legal government and to destroy our independence.

Mr. Kersten. Would you place any reliance whatsoever on the
words of any one of these top Communists that you had to deal with,
this Vinshinsky, Vieteroff, or any of the other people?

Mr. Berzins. No.

Mr. Kersten. Would you place any reliance whatsoever on the
words of any of these top Communists that you had to deal with ?

Mr. Berzins. No, never.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you very much.

Mr. Madden. Could you give us some information as to the policy
that the Soviets used in regard to the children of these families whose
parents they sent to Siberia, what did tliey do with the cliildren?

Mr. Berzins. So far as I know, this information is exactly true:
The family was separated. The man was sent to some slave-labor
group far to the north and the wives were sent to other sUive-labor
camps, and the children to special camps for the children. The small
children, 2, 3, and 4 years old, were put in orphan houses. Necessarily,


they were educated as Communists, and in time he forgets his family,
his mother and family, and is a Russian citizen of the kind is made
in Communist-dominated countries.

Mr. Madden. In other words, the pattern or the policy that the
Soviets used was to destroy the home?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct.

Mr. Madden. And banish the parents to slave-labor camps?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct.

Mr. Madden. And bring the children up as Communists?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. Because the parent is sentenced to death or
goes to slave-labor camps. They will never come back.

Mr. Madden. Their pattern was one where they knew the parents
could not survive very long in these slave-labor camps?

Mr. Berzins. That is right. We have escaped people from these
slave-labor camps who say that most deported Latvians died in the
first year.

Mr. Madden. Whicli means that within one generation, all Latvia
WQuld become Communist and the Latvian identity as a nation would
be wiped out, or obliterated,

Mr. Berzins. I don't believe so, because Latvian history

Mr. Madden. I am talking about the intention of the Soviets,

Mr. Berzins. That is the intention.

Mr. Madden. That is their pattern. It is their program.

Mr. Berzins. Yes, it is a program. First they deport and destroy
all leading people in politics and in science, and so on. When the peo-
ple are without leaders, necessarily the place becomes Communist and
the education is Communist.

Mr. Madden. From your knowledge over the last 10 or 12 years,
in your experiences with the Communists, that same pattern was not
only used m Latvia, but it was used in Lithuania, Estonia, Poland,
Czechoslovakia, and the other Communist-subjugated nations?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct. Everywhere,

Mr. Kersten. There is one more question I would like to ask you
before we adjourn, and that is this : Since you have been in this coun-
try, and since the war, you have observed from newspaper accounts
and other ways, the present activities of the same Vishinsky. Have
you not?

Mr. Berzins, Yes.

Mr. Kersten. You have read his speeches and you heard the speech
here this morning, the recording.

Would you say from your observations and your experiences with
Communists, that the Vishinsky of those days who took over Latvia, is
the same type of person, is just as unreliable and is up to the same
tactics and antics today that he was at that time when Latvia
was taken over?

Mr. Berzins. That is my opinion. My opinion is that Vishinsky
is the same Vishinsky. Communism is the same communism. In
Latvia were mass graves. The same mass graves were opened in
Korea. The places are 10,000 miles, one from the other. The Com-
munist has not changed his face. The Communist cannot change his
face because then he would not be a Communist.

Mr. Kersten. And the same Vishinsky operating in Latvia back in
1940 is operating today in the United Nations, is that right ?


Mr. Berzins. He is the same man using the same methods. Be it in
Latvia, the United Nations, Korea, or some other place, Vishinsky
cannot change, nor can Moscow communism.

Mr. Machrowicz. You have mentioned the fact that this member
of the Russian NKVD who participated in the rape of Latvia is now
the Soviet Minister to Denmark ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct, sir.

Mr. Machcowicz. Since you have had an opportunity to see and
meet a lot of these Soviet officials who participated in the occupation
of Latvia, do you know whether any of those officials are present in
the Russian Embassy here in Washington, or any other govern-
mental agency ?

Mr. Berzins. No. I can't tell you.

Mr. Machrowicz. What?

Mr. Berzins. I don't know.

Mr. Machrowicz. You also stated that in the first Communist cabi-
net that was created, only two were Communists, and the others were
left-wing Communist sympathizers, or so-called liberals, is that
correct ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct.

Mr, Machrowicz. I would like to ask you a question. What hap-
pened to those others ?

Mr. Berzins. So far as I know, Kirchensteins is dismissed and is
now working as a professor. One minister of education was arrested
shortly thereafter. Two or three months later he disappeared. He
was arrested.

Blaus disappeared. The Minister of Justice disappeared.

It would appear that they had done their jobs and afterward were
sent to slave-labor camps.

Mr. Machrowicz. In other words, your testimony is the same as
that of yesterday, that the Communists used some of these left-wing
sympathizers in order to create an impression of unity government,
but soon thereafter either liquidated them or dismissed them com-
pletely ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct.

Mr. Machrowicz. And that is part of the general Russian pattern
wherever Russian imperialism has progressed, is that correct?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. We saw it everywhere. It is the same in Czecho-
slovakia and everywhere.

Mr. Machrowicz. Another thing I would like to know about, to
establish this pattern : When was the first warning that Latvia had of
the impending danger from Soviet Russia ?

Mr. Berzins. It was shortly after the war. The war was started
after the ill-famed pact between Ribbentrop and Molotov.

Mr. Machrowicz. Can you tell us how long it was before this fate-
ful June in 1940 that you got first notice of the danger of Russian

Mr. Berzins. Yes. Lithuania was accused of kidnaping Red sol-
diers and there came the first dangerous steps of the Soviet Union.

Ml". Machrowicz. How many days or weeks or months was that
from the actual day of occupation?

Mr. Berzins. It was in March, and in February the Latvian Foreign
Minister worked out extraordinary powers for our Ambassador in
London and for our Ambassador in Washington, because Latvian


Government had the feeling that each day coidd bring occupation by
the Reds. We hoped that our help would come from the great democ-
racies which won once the war against the Nazis and will help us to
establish our independence.

So these extraordinary powers were given to our ambassadors in
the United States and in England.

Mr. Machrowicz. When the attack finally came, it came suddenly
and without warning?

Mr. Berzins. Without warning, and on the IGth was the ultimatum
at 2 o'clock, and they wanted an answer in 8 hours. At 10 o'clock we
were to answer. If we refused the ultimatum from Molotov, it was
told to our Ambassador in Moscow that the Red Army would cross,
with force, our border, at 10 o'clock that evening.

Mr. Machrowicz. I notice among these photographs that were of-
fered in evidence there is a photograph of a so-called execution order
which translated says as follows :

"Shoot all socially dangerous persons," and carries the signature of
an NKVD officer.

What do you know about such orders being issued ?

Mr. Berzins. At this time, I was not in Latvia myself. I was in
concentration camp in Germany,

Mr. Machrowicz. This was June 2(>, 1940.

Mr. Berzins. 1941, it is.

Mr. Machrowicz. That is right. You were not in Latvia at that
time ?

Mr. Berzins. That is right. I was in the concentration camp in

Mr. Kersten. First of all, I will say, Mr. Berzins, I would like for
you to come back here at 2 o'clock. Mr. Bonin would like to ask you
some questions. After you are finished, Mr. Berzins, the next witness
will be Mrs. Zenta Visbulis.

The hearings are now adjourned until 2 o'clock.

(Wliereupon, at 12 : 30 p. m., the committee adjourned, to recon-
vene at 2 p. m. the same day. )


(The committee reconvened at 2 : 10 p. m.)

Mr. Kersten. The hearing will come to order, please.

Mr. Berzins, will you come forward, please ?

Mr. BoNiN. Mr. Berzins, prior to Lenin's death, he confessed that
the U. S. S. R.'s determination was to conquer free nations, and it
would not be governed by either ethics or morality.

Would you say that all the leaders of the Soviet Union have fol-
lowed his instructions implicitly as far as your country is concerned ?

Mr. Berzins. It is not only my opinion, but it is my experience, too,
as a neighbor of the Soviet Union and a citizen of Latvia.

The soviet organized a fifth column in Latvia all the time and has
schooled specialists in schools. We know that everywhere is organ-
ized for each country fifth columns. People are educated specifically
for the underground movement.

It is my experience that Communists cannot live together with free
peoples. They have the intention to conquer all the world. It is in
the teaching of Lenin from the beginning of communism.


Mr. BoNiN. Earlier in your testimony, you stated that Mr. Visliin-
sky is a liar, and a murderer.

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. Through the medium of the United Nations, today he
is following Lenin's instructions to use any ruse, cunning, unlawful
method, evasion, and concealment of the truth.

Mr. Berzins. That is correct.

Mr. BoNiN. Do you know if the Communists carried out the in-
human crimes of genocide, murder, deportation, and false arrest right
in your own country ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. The Communists started mass deportations in
1941, and the second time they came into Latvia, in 1945, the mass
deportations began again. We do not know how many Latvians were
deported in the meantime, but it is my belief, approximately between
100,000 or 200,000 people. They are mostly innocent people.

We know, through our channels, of two large deportations be-
tween 1945 and now. One was in 1945. There they reportedly de-
ported about 50,000 people.

The second time was the end of March 29, 1949. There was broken
the existence of independent farmers, because farmers refused to go
in freely, and to break down this resistance — we have information
from refugees and others in Latvia — that at this time there were
deported between 50,000 and 70,000 people. The deportation from
single families, or groups of people, for slave-labor camps is going on
still, but not in so large numbers.

Mr. BoNiN. It is apparent from your official capacity, and from
the facts that you experienced, the Russian Government violated every
agreement that they had with your country; is that right?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct. Well, remember that once in the
League of Nations Litvinoff said that each agreement is only a piece
of paper. A piece of paper. And for the Soviet Union, each agree-
ment is really only a piece of paper.

Mr. BoNiN. Therefore, you would agree that this Red Marxisfc-
Communist plan, as they took over your country, followed the same
pattern by which they took Lithuania over, as was testified to here

Mr. Berzins. It was the same thing. Elections were the same day.
At the same time there was incorporation into the Soviet Union. All
three Baltic puppet governments were ordered to Moscow in one ses-
sion and were incorporated. It was all in the same plan, and done in
Moscow and not the Baltic countries.

Mr. BoNiN. It is, therefore, logical to conclude that all these things
had to be planned out a long time in advance before they actually
occurred; is that not true?

Mr. Berzins. Yes, it is so. It was carefully planned in Moscow
and carried out by Vishinsky and others.

Mt. BoNiN. It was along the same identical pattern by which they
took over Poland?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Bonin. Afterwards, they took over Czechoslovakia in a similar
manner ?

Mr. Berzins. In a similar manner.

Mr. BoNiN. If we can rely on the past, they will take over other
countries in the same manner.


Mr. Berzins. Yes. If they take over other countries they will fol-
low the same pattern. The leading people will be killed or broken
and the resistance will be no more.

Mr. lioNiN. Mr. lierzins, do you recall whether or not in 1940 the
Communists did anything about religion when they took over your
country ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. Communists are friends of religion, they say.
It is a lie, too, that religion is free in Communist countries. In Latvia
a religion is not free. It is under Communist control and the clergy-
men — some of the leading clergymen — are Communist agents. !So
they are using the church as an instrument of Communist propa-
ganda, too.

Mr. BoNiN. Therefore, you conclude, and we can assume, that any
agreement that the free nations of thi^ world might enter into with,
liussia could not be relied upon i

Mr. Berzins. That is my deepest opinion.

Mr. BoNiN. Thank you very much, sir, for your splendid testimony
here today.

Mr. BusBEY. Mr. Berzins, first of all I want to thank you for the
very splendid testimony you have given the committee today, but
following through on this idea of any agreement being just a scrap of
paper, does that not follow, also, to the Constitution of the U. S. S. R.,
in this respect : It isn't what is in the constitution, it is their inter-
pretation that they put on the constitution.

In other words, if you read the constitution of the U. S. S. R. very
carefully, I am sure there are many splendid ideals expressed in that
constitution, but they are not interpreted as they are written into the
constitution. And the same way in their agreements with any coun-
try. It is not what is in the agreement, it is the way they turn it
around and the interpretation they put on that agreement that is the
real situation to consider ; is that correct 'i

Mr. Berzins. That is correct. Naturally, we can find in the Soviet
Constitution the best ideas. It says all people are free, that the people
have rights to associate in dilferent organizations, in political parties,
but the only party allowed is the Communist Party. There is no free
organization allowed in this. In the constitution it says so, but not
in reality.

And each man who would like to think free and hold some self-
respect, such people are sent to slave labor camps. The legal consti-
tution is one. In reality it is sometliing else. In reality it is cruelty
that has been followed by the Soviet Union in subjugated nations.

Mr. Busbey. Would you agree with me that Hed Marxist commu-
nism is the same, regardless of what the control is in that comitry ?

Mr. Berzins. That is right.

In Germany it is a little different from Poland, and different in
Latvia from other countries. It is only a difference in tactics and
not in the sense of communism and not a difference in aims.

Mr. BusBEY. I think the people are becoming more aware every day
of what is commonly known as the opposition Communist. These
opposition Communists are very hard to detect. You might think
they are anti-Communists because their line of propaganda is anti-
Stalinist, but they are not anti-Marxist.

We have tw^o sets of Communists, the Stalin-Communists that fol-
lowed the old Lenin regime, and we have the opposition Commmiists


in which I place Tito in Yugoslavia, who are on the outs, now, and
trying to get on the in and take over where the old Stalinist crowd
happened to be in control.

Mr. Berzins. In my opinion, there is no difference in ideas and, in
methods, not much, too. It is only a difference in persons. Tito
doesn't like to obey Moscow, and so there was created Titoism. It is
called national communism. I don't think Tito has the same kind of
communism, but he only could not obey Moscow. Tito will not push
the opposition as long as he is not Communist, but naturally there is a
Communist Party in Yugoslavia, too, who are in danger, too, when
Communists take over again in Yugoslavia, Naturally, Tito and all
the people around Tito will be accused as traitors, and liquidated.

Mr. BusBEY. There are two kinds of Communists in the world. It
seems we have two political parties in the United States. Now, here
in the United States when the Democrats are in control, the Republi-
cans are trying to get them out. Wlien the Republicans are in control,
the Democrats are trying to get the Republicans out so they can be
back in.

Now, we have this group of what appears to be anti-Communists.
They are anti-Stalinists, and they are the opposition Communists in
this country, of which we have plenty. They are followers of Tito.
Wlien this opposition group, or the Stalinist-Communists should be
thrown out, we would have another group of Communists in there,
but they are still Marxist Communists.

You don't have to reply to that, Mr. Berzins. If you want to make
a comment, it is perfectly all right.

Mr. Berzins. There is really opposition to the Communist Party,
too, in Moscow, or in the Soviet Union, and in other countries, but all
the anti-Stalinists are powerless in this country. One Communist's
position cannot change the Communist position in the Soviet Union.
That is my feeling.

Mr. BusBEY. Of course, we have them in all countries, but in this
country they stem particularly from the purge of 1929, when Stalin
purged the so-called opposition Communists out of the party con-
trolled by the Kremlin in this country. They are still making a great
many people in this country believe they are anti-Communists, now,
but they are not. They are still Communists. They are opposition
Communists. They are in opposition to Stalinist Communists, and
not Marxist communism.

Mr. Berzins. My feeling about this purge in 1929 is that it was
a personal fight for the power in the Kremlin, but not an ideological
fight in the Communist Party. It was a question of who will be ruling
in the Kremlin, whether it will be the Stalinists or some other leading
people. It was not an ideological fight in the Communist Party.

Mr. BusBEY. That is all, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Machrowicz. I don't knoAv whether I understood you in answer
to the questions put a little while ago. Do you believe there is such
a thing as national communism ?

Mr. Berzins. There is one kind called national communism. There
was national communism at one time in the Ukraine. They are
Communists, but they would like to see the Ukraine a separate country
or a separate state, not under Moscow rule. It is communism, but an
independent Ukrainian communism. Such was called national


Mr. Machrowicz. You said the last time you saw President Ulmanis
was on July 1, 1940. You didn't tell us what happened to him after

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