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

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of the pit and then thrown into the pit.

Mr. Kersten. All of these people that you are able to identify, as
I understand your testimony, were people that were good people,
members of the community, respected citizens, professional people,
completely innocent of any ordinary crimes so far as you have indi-
cated in any way ; is that about the situation ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Altogether during that year I dug out over 900
bodies and none of those victims were a former criminal. They were
all the most respected persons in our country.

Mr. KJERSTEN. In other words, they were among the leadership of
your normal society there before the Bolsheviks took over; is that
correct ?

Mr. Grantskalns. That's absolutely correct, because among those
victims I found were the leaders of our communities, the most out-
standing intellectuals, teachers, officers, government employees, and
so on.

Mr. Kersten. These people, the leaders of your society of Latvia,
met their deaths of these various horrible kinds after Latvia was
taken over under the leadership, the personal leadership, of Mr.
Andrei Vishinsky; is that correct?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is right. "\^nien Mr. Andrei Vishinsky
came in and started to direct all the administration of Latvia, that
was when those people were arrested.

Mr. Kersten. That is the same Vishinsky that is presently at the
U. N. here in New York, isn't it ?

Mr. Gr^vntskalns. Yes ; because I have seen Mr. Vishinsky at that
time in Latvia, and I have seen him in New York now.

Mr. McTiGUE. Will you proceed, Mr. Grantskalns. Wliere was
your next visit?

Mr. Grantskalns. Well, then from Baltezers we went to various
places in Latvia, and even we followed information that some of the
Latvians were shot outside the Latvian border. So, following one
of such information we went to a Russia city in Russia ; it's name is
Pskov. We had information that a transport of Latvian deportees
which went through Pskov was stopped there and the people were


So we went; so our commission went to Pskov, and we found a
grave but only with seven corpses. In this grave the bodies were
buried in a very shallow and damp place, and the corpses were falling
apart, so we couldn't identify them. But we made a conclusion from
the clothes and some other small things that they were Latvian

We made an investigation and I personally interrogated the rail-
road employees, and I was told that those 7 people were taken out
of 1 transport which came from Kiga and was proceeding to Lenin-
grad with Latvian arrestees, and those 7 people were taken to Pskov,
out of the train, and shot at the railroad station and carried about
200 feet from the railroad station and buried. That's where we found

Mr. McTiGUE. During the summer of 1942 did you make an investi-
gation ?

Mr. Grantskalns. In 1942 I received information that a gi-eater
number of Latvians had been shot outside Latvia on the banks of
the River Daugava. Daugava is one of the biggest rivers in that
part of Europe.

Mr. Kersten. How do you spell that?

Mr. Grantskalns. That's D-a-u-g-a-v-a.

So my mission went to that place. It is about 100 kilometers,
about 60 miles, from the Latvian border, near the village Una. It is
spelled U-n-a.

Mr. IVERSTEN. Where were these people found ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Well, I already testified about that. That was
in Pskov, but now I am speaking about a village, Una, in Russia.
That's about 60 miles from the Latvian border. I was informed that
in Una a great number of Latvians were shot. So our commission
went down to Una and we were told by the people in Una that in
1941, when the war between Russia and Germany broke out, a huge
column of arrestees were driven along the highway eastward. Wlien
this column — which consisted of about 2,000 people, male, female, and
even children — came out of the woods and reached village Una; just
before that village that highway goes uphill — it is a small hill. On
top of that hill is an intersection and there is a big road that crosses
that way.

When this column reached that intersection it was stopped by the
guards — the NKVD guards which guarded that column. Those 2,000
people were stopped on that intersection, divided in 4 gi'oups, placed
out like wings, corners, so it formed something like a cross. Then the
guards went down the hill and the people stayed on top on that hill,
and the guards opened fire on that column, on those 2,000 people, from
all sides and kept up that fire by machine gun 'till all of those people
who were on top of that hill were dead.

Mr. Machrowicz. They were all Latvians, were they?

Mr. Grantskalns. No.

Mr. Machrowicz. Will you tell us who was there ; besides Latvians,
what other groups?

Mr. Grantskalns. When we opened those graves we found those
bodies very much falling apart, and no documents were found in the
pockets — no documents at all. But judging by the clothes, by the
buttons, by belts, by shoes, by socks, we came to the conclusion that
mostly those people came from the eastern part of Lithuania and


Poland. Some of those bodies had beards and had long hair, char-
acteristic of the Greek Orthodox Church, and some of the bodies — a
great number of them — had long clothes which the priests in Europe
wear — clergymen.

Mr. Machrowicz. Were they all civilians?

Mr. Grantskalns. All civilians. When we opened those graves the
bodies were piled up in four rows. There were 9 huge pits containing
altogether 2,000 men and women.

We opened graves in Latvia, Ulbroka, Babita, Litine, Bikernieki,
Ropasi, Dreilini, and Aglona.

Mr. McTiGUE. Will you tell us about the investigation you made
at Dreilini ?

Mr. Grantskalns. That was one of the last ones we opened, in
Dreilini, where we found, I think, 39 bodies. Those corpses were
tied, their hands behind their backs, but two of them had their hands
tied and beside them was a rope, a noose — it was around their necks.
First, we had the impression that those two victims were not shot,
but they were hanged. When we looked at them close we found the
holes in the back of the heads again, and then we decided that we
couldn't explain those ropes around the necks. They must be some
kind of important persons and they used those nooses for a special
security on the way from the transport machine in the woods, so
that the prisoners can't escape.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Grantskalns, to get this a little clearer in the
record, I would like to have you tell us at this point a little bit
more about this commission that you were with. About how many
members of the commission were there ? Were they Latvian people ?

Mr. Grantskalns. The number of the members was not always
the same.

Mr. Kersten. It varied, did it ?

Mr. Grantskalns. It varied, because in one spot we used more help,
in another one, less.

Mr. Kersten. Did you have medical men?

Mr. Grantskalns. We had two court physicians as permanent mem-
bers of my commission.

Mr. Kersten. Were you the head of the commission ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. What was the name of the commission ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Well, it is hard to translate ; maybe I could ask
a translator to translate that. It was a commission to

Mr. Kersten. Investigate ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Yes; investigate, to investigate the Bolshevik
atrocities, documents, and everything, all evidence about the Bolshe-
vik atrocities. The membership of that commission varied from
5 to 10.

Mr. Kersten. How long did it operate ?

Mr. Grantskalns. It was in 1941 very active, and then only when
something turned up again, but that commission was in action all
the time.

Mr. Kersten. How soon after the Bolsheviks left did you start
organizing this commission ?

Mr. Grantskalns. The commission was organized on July 2.

Mr. Kersten. The Bolshevists left when?

Mr. Grantskalns. July 1.


Mr. Kersten. And you continued to operate thereafter and you
were uncoverino; these jjraves?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is right.

Mr. MoTiGUE. Was it a German-appointed commission?

Mr. Grantskalns. We had nothing to do with the German occupa-
tion forces. That was a Latvian commission which was built in the
Latvian court system.

Mr. McTiGUE. July 1 officials like you, after the Soviets left, im-
mediately reverted to the positions you held before the Soviets came

Mr. Grantskalns. That is correct. On July 1 we all went back to
our work.

Mr. McTiGUE. And the Latvian Government immediately started
to function as the Latvian Government on that date ?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is correct.

Mr. Kersten. The provisional government that commenced to oper-
ate almost immediately, was that Latvian ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And then ultimately the Nazis came in and they took

Mr. Grantskalns. Well, the first couple of weeks the Germans had
no time to organize. Later they started to organize some things in

Mr. McTiGUE. Mr. Berzins, will you come around here, please?
I would like to have Mr. Berzins sit here.


Mr. Kerstens. Mr. Berzins, yon do solemnly swear you will tell
the truth, the wliole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Mr. Berzins. I do.

Mr. McTiGUE. Will you identify yourself, Mr. Berzins?

Mr. Berzins. Peteris Berzins.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you born in Latvia?

Mr. Berzins. I was born in Latvia in 1893.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you live there from 1893 through 1940 when the
Soviets occupied Latvia ?

Mr. Berzins. I lived there but at the First World War I served in
the army.

Mr. McTiGUE. What was your occupation?

Mr. Berzins. I am a master of pharmacy.

Mr. McTigue. Were you employed by Mr. Grantskalns' commission,
or the commission which he headed as judge?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. McTigue. In July of 1941 ?

Mr. Berzins. No; 1943.

Mr. McTigue. Were you employed by this commission in the identi-
fication of certain documents?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. McTigue. Now I want to proceed with Mr. Grantskalns'

Will you go on, please?


Mr. Keesten. Just at that point your commission had been in opera-
tion for a couple of years, then, before Mr. Brazins was employed on
this other matter, is that correct?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is correct. We found those two bodies with
the ropes around the necks and when we started to identify them it
turned out that those two bodies were corpses of two Latvian Army
generals. The first one was Gen. Karlis Goppbers.

Mr. ]NLvDDEX. I might suggest, JNIr. Chairman, that the most impor-
tant thing is to get this record and if the reporters will interrupt at
any time, I think that would be satisfactory, so that they can get the
correct spelling.

You speak up at any time for the correct spelling.

Mr. KEKSTr:N. That is certainly desirable.

Mr. Grantskalns. General Goppbers was the president of the Lat-
vian Boy Scout organization. He disappeared during the Bolshevists
regime and nobody knew what happened to him until 19i3 when we
found his body in the pit near Dreilini.

Mr. McTiGUE. Before proceeding, Mr. Grantskalns, I hand you a
photograph and ask if you can identify it, please?

Mr. Grantskalns. This photograph was taken in my presence at
Dreilini and I presonally recognize myself on this picture.

Mr. McTiGUE. Can you identify yourself in that picture?

JNIr. Grantskalns. I am the last man on top here.

Mr. McTiGUE. I will ask that this be marked for identification,
Mr. Chairman.

( The photograph was marked "Exhibit 7-G," see p. 568. )

Mr. McTiGLTE. I hand you another photogi'aph.

Mr. Grantskalns. There are two pictures. The one on the left side
was taken in the Riga prison yard and that on the right side on
Baltezers. Here you can see even that fence I spoke about, that big
fence that is around the garden. There are the bodies taken just out
of the pits.

Mr. IvERsiTSN. This photograph shows the head of the Boy Scouts ?

Mr. Grantskalns. He was the president of the Latvian Boy Scout

]\fr. McTiGUE. He was well known — or internationally known — for
Boy Scout activities?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is right.

Mr. Kersten. I suppose the Boy Scouts would be a subversive or-
ganization under Communist rule ; is that right ?

J\Ir. Grantskalns. That is how it looked like.

Mr. McTiGUE. You identified this body as being the body of General
Goppbers ?

(The photograph was marked "Exhibit 7-H." See pp. 569 and

Mr. Grantskalns. We found that body in 1943, so that was about
3 years after he was shot, but his body was put in a dry, sandy place,
so the body was well preserved. We had some difficulties from the
beginning, but I asked his dentist to come out with the book where he
had records of the work he had done with the general's teeth, and then
we found that the body's teeth corresponded to that chart. Then we
asked the son of the general to come out, and he recognized that body
and later on some documents were found in some pockets.

Mr. McTiGUE. Mr. Berzins, did you identify, or take part in the
identification of those documents ?


Mr. Berzins. Yes ; on the bodies we opened and we made pictures.
Tlien we started to find what we can find in the pockets.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you able to establisli the identification of Gen-
eral Goppbers through various documents ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Will you proceed, Mr. Grantskalns ?

Mr. Grantskalns. The second body with the rope around the neck
belonged to the former commander of the Latvian Home Guards.
That was General Brauls. General Brauls' body was identified also
later by the Institute for Scientific Investigation for Legal Proving
in Mr. Berzins' laboratory.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you find other bodies of leading officers in the
Latvian Army there ?

Mr. Grantskalns. We found a former colonel and we found some
other high-ranking officers, but I don't remember the names now.

Mr. McTiGUE. I hand you a photograph and ask you if you can
identify it, please ?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is a former commander of the Eailway
Defense Guard. His name was Ozolins.

Mr, MgTigue. I ask that this be market for identification.

(The photograph was marked "Exhibit 7-1," see p. 571.)

Mr. McTiGUE. Will you go ahead, please ?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is about all the bodies we found. Alto-
gether my commission dug out 979 corpses.

Mr. McTiGUE. "VMiat did you find in the basement of the Riga ■

Mr. Grantskalns. I would like to point out that between those 979
victims there was 1 child 6 years old who was found in rubbish. But
of those 979 victims which we dug out, they were not all murdered in
Latvia during the Bolshevists' time, because those we found were those
who were led to the place of execution alive. That was established.
A much greater number of arrestees were shot in the Cheka execution
camps and those corpses were transported by trucks out of the Cheka
cellars and those were put in a very good hidden place and we didn't
find that place.

I investigated that Cheka cellar and that Cheka execution cham-
ber. That execution chamber had a concrete floor which was slanted
to one corner and in that corner was a drain I opened that wire which
was over the hole and that drain was full of old blood. I personally
took out close to 200 empty shells out of the drain. The walls in that
chamber were paneled with wood and between the concrete wall and
the wooden panels where was some kind of insulation — upholstering.
I think that was for the purpose to prevent ricocheting. Over that
wooden panel was hung a rubber cloth and in that rubber cloth and in
that wooden panel there were hundreds of bullet holes. That rubber
cloth was bloodstained and there were water holes in that chamber.

Mr. Kersten. Where was this chamber?

Mr. Grantskalns. That was NKVD house.

Mr. Kersten. "WTiat house ?

Mr. Grantskalns. The former Ministry of the Interior of Latvia
was turned over to NKTVD when the Russians took over. That is the
building right in the middle of the Latvian capital, Riga, and the
main street.

Mr. Kersten. Wlien did you first see that execution chamber?


Mr. Grantskalns. I saw that for the first time if I remember well
on July 5 or 6.

Mr. Kersten. Of 1941 ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. In other words, a few days after the Bolshevists left,
•during this first year of occupation that was engineered by Mr. Vish-
insky ; is that right ?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is correct. Before that there was no such
cellar below that house. That was built in that year.

Mr. E^ERSTEN. This type of thing followed Mr. Vishinsky's appear-
.ance in Latvia ; is that right ?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is correct. He took over and directed in
Latvia and this cellar and this execution chamber was built.

Mr. McTiGUE. I hand you a photograph, ]Mr. Grantskalns, and ask
you if you can identify it, please ?

Mr. Grantskalns. This is a door which opens.

(The photograph was marked "Exhibit 7-J," see pp. 572 and 573.)

Mr. McTiGUE. Is this the chamber you are talking about?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is the door to the execution chamber about
which I am talking. This is a tile floor and this is the rubber cloth
on the wooden panel on the wall. You can see that this door is well
upholstered, it is soundproof. Another door from this execution
chamber opened to the garage and the corpses were transported by
trucks out of this Cheka cellar. In this garage I found in the corner
a canvas which I think was used to cover the bodies. That canvas was
very, very much stained with blood, the same as the rubber cloths on
the wall in the execution chamber.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Bentley, do you want to ask a question ?

Mr. Bentlet. Going back to the beginning of your testimony, when
did you send the list of these missing people to the International Red
Cross ?

Mr. Grantskalns. I didn't do that myself but after that list was
mostly finished I turned over that list to the Latvian Red Cross and
the Latvian Red Cross goes over and rearranges that list in alpha-
betical order, typed it over once more and sent that one copy of that
list to the International Red Cross in Switzerland, if I am not mis-
taken, in 1942. I can't tell that exactly because that was to be done
secretly because the German occupation forces didn't allow to do that

Mr. Bentlet. Were there many people on this list who were never
accounted for, whose bodies were never found ?

Mr. Grantskalns. No, we never found a body which is listed in that
because there are two different types of arrestees in that year, the
people who were arrested during those years or who disappeared
somehow and nobody knows what happened to them, because they
arrested people on the street and how did we know what happens ?

Another category is the people who were deported in June 1941.
That is a big number which is listed now in the book.

Mr. Bentley. You say that most of the people whose bodies were
discovered were shot in the back of the head, had their hands tied
behind them, mostly shot on the spot where they were buried ?

Mr. Grantskalns All of them.

Mr. Bentley. And they were shot by a type of pistol which you
said was used by the NKVD ?


Mr, Grantskalns. That is right.

Mr. Bentlet. Did they show, in addition to the bullet marks, any
evidences of torture ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Some of the bodies had broken jaws, one or two
had broken skulls. Some of them had broken ribs, some had broken
legs, but, yes, there were some with no lips or broken noses, even with-
out ears. By that time were were too busy to make a very good
investigation as to what happened to those bodies and in what manner,
and so on.

Mr. BlENTLEY. But presumably it was during questioning, wasn't

Mr. Grantskalns. We presumed that but I personally have no
proof of that, but when you can see the bodies with no lips, broken
jaws, ribs, you can easily make your mind up what happened to them.

Mr. Bentlet. Going back to the people you found in the prison
courtyard, when did most of those people disappear, as far as you or
their families knew ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Most of them were arrested in the last 10 days.

Mr. Bentlet. And how long, approximately, had they been dead
when you found them ?

Mr. Grantskalns. They were shot from the 27th to the 28th, ac-
cording to some political prisoners who escaped from the jail when the
Russians left and who testified to me that they had heard those shots
on that night in that particular part of the prison yard.

Mr. Bentlet. And these people were killed just before the Soviets

Mr. Grantskalns. I think 24 hours or 48 hours before the Soviets

Mr. Bentlet. Is it possible they were killed because of the fact
that the Russians had to flee the country before the Germans ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Well, executions were in that time.

Mr. Bentlet. Two more questions : On this document that has been
offered in evidence as a traneslation of the document that was found
in the prison headquarters, I notice these people are accused of crimes
under a certain penal code, under a certain legal code. What legal
code is that?

Mr. Grantskalns. That is paragraph 58 of the Russian Criminal

Mr, Bentlet. They were convicted under Soviet law ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Yes,

Mr. Bentlet. Have you checked these particular references to de-
termine if they were actual provisions of Soviet law? Does the
Soviet law actually provide the death penalty for such crimes as
these people were accused of ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Yes, because all of them are accused under para-
graph 58. Paragraph 58 in the Russian Criminal Code is a very out-
standing paragraph.

Mr. Kersten. You mean the Soviet code ?

Mr. Grantskalns. Yes. It has points, something like 40 or so,
so actually it is not a paragraph ; it is a chapter. It contains all sorts
of activities which can be labeled as anticommunistic.

Mr. Kersten. For all anti-Communist activities the penalty is
death, isn't it?


Mr. Grantskalns. Yes, but the Bolshevists think that anti-Com-
munist activity is belonging to a 4-H club, too.

Mr. Bentley. And the reason the criminal code was used was be-
cause at that time the fiction of Latvia being incorporated into the
Soviet Union existed?

Mr. Grantsicalns. That is right.

Mr. Bentley. After the investigations were finally completed in
which your commission engaged, what report was made and what dis-
position was made of the report, if any ?

Mr. Grantskalns. There were no reports made because we didn't
think we had finished our work. It turned up always something new,
some new graves. We tried to interrogate the relatives of the victims
and find everything out about those murders, so that our work wasn't
finished and no final report was made.

Mr. Bentley. And no use was made of your findings at that time ?

Mr. Grantskalns. What kind of use would you mean? The vic-
tims were dead.

Mr. Bentley. This is the first time that the facts which your com-
mission uncovered have been used in any kind of investigation?

iVIr. Grantskalns. That is correct.

Mr. Madden. Mr. Grantskalns, Mr. Vishinsky and others con-
nected with the Soviet leaders, in speeches and otherwise, stated that
Latvia, along with Lithuania and Estonia and other victim nations
volunteered to join the Soviet orbit because they wanted to be under
the Russian Soviet Government. From your testimony, Mr. Vinshin-
sky's statement and the claims of the Kremlin rulers is untrue, is that
a fact ?

Mr. Grantskalns. If Mr. Chairman will allow, I would like to tell
a small story about that volunteering: It is true that the Latvian
Parliament, which was elected in 1941 in July after the Russians took
over, sent a delegation to Moscow, but I had a small experience about
those elections when I went to the place where the ballots were cast,
the voting booth. At that time I saw a woman who came into that
voting place. In the center stands the ballot box and on that ballot
box was a huge picture of Stalin. Latvia was independent at that
time. There was the head of a foreign state on that ballot box.

In one corner was a dresser, put in the corner so if somebody wanted
to look over that list of the candidates which was handed to the voter —
there was only one list of candidates. No more were allowed. If
somebody wanted to examine that list he could go in that corner be-
hind the dresser. Nobody did that, nobody, only one woman. Right

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