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

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they deliberately let them die.

Mr. Bentley. When you talked with people from Russia who were
in these camps, how did they feel about the Government ?

Dr. Devenis. Well, I think everybody was against the Government,
but they were afraid to talk to anybody, even in the camp.

Mr. Bentley. You had spies within the camps ?

Dr. Devenis. Informers everywhere. I knew the Russian language,
I probably spoke Russian better than English. When I traveled
through Russia I spoke to people. They were also against the Govern-
ment but they couldn't do anything because it was like a great prison
camp. There were no stores, no stores, no places to get food. I had to
travel from tliat liberation camp 16 days. In that cam]) I was sup])]ied
with black bread stacked high like that for 16 days. On the third day


that bread got moldy and could hardly be eaten, but I couldn't do
anything because there was no way to buy and I had no money.

Mr. Bentlet. One more question. How long would the average
person who was deported to one of those camps be expected to live on
the average?

Dr. Devenis. I should say not more than 4 or 5 years.

Mr. Bentley. Thank you.

Mr. Madden. Doctor, along the lines of your testimony of their
policy to eliminate the people in these camps, if they can't produce
manual work they would be starved so they would die quickly, don't
you think that that is a well-programed Communist policy to destroy
the older people of these subjugated countries and then educate the
younger generation into communism so they can obliterate or banish
all forms of nationalities under communism, all forms of patriotism
from the standpoint of nationalities to their own countries, adherence
to their own nation ?

Dr. Devenis. Yes. Not only do I think that, but it is in Lenin's
and Stalin's writings. They say that a bourgeoisie is a bourgeoisie;
you can never trust him, you have got to exterminate him. Only the
new generation can be true Communists, you can't depend on the older

Mr. Madden. From your knowledge in talking to the people from
other subjugated countries while you were in prison there, the same
pattern was used in Poland and Lithuania and Latvia and Estonia and
Rumania and these other nations?

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir; everywhere the same pattern.

Mr. Madden. What became of your farm over there ?

Dr. Devenis. Well, later on they confiscated it. I think I was about
a month free. During the Communist occupation tlie Red army used
to come to my farm, and they used to take hay. I had a dairy there,
and they used to take butter. They M^ould just give a slip of paper at
the beginning. Later on they wouldn't give anything. They would
come and take it just like it was their own, just confiscate it without
paying anything and without accounting for the things they took.

Mr. Madden. Let me ask you this, Doctor : Of course, nobody in
these prison camps got any news of what was going on in the world
outside of the Iron Curtain ?

Dr. Devenis. No, sir ; not in the prison camps. Several times while
I was in prison camp I wrote to the American Embassy that I was an
American citizen and would they take steps to have me liberated.
Later on I found from the Embassy that they didn't receive any com-
munication at all. It didn't go any further than the wastebasket.

Mr. Madden. Do you know w^hether or not the great percentage of
the people inside of Russia that are not in prison camps are getting
any factual information from outside of the Iron Curtain ?

Dr. Devenis. Not as far as I know, because censorship is very strong,
and they are not allowed to listen to the radio. In fact, there are no
receivers like here in America. They have only loud speakers ; from it
they could hear only what is transmitted from the official radio station.
They can't dial any place they want, so they can't get any information.
Newspapers are not allowed from the outside world.

Mr. Keesten. Mr. Bonin.

Mr. Bonin. Doctor, while you were in Lithuania shortly after the
Russians occupied that country, was there any effort of any kind on


the part of the Lithuanian people to try to overthrow this Russian
system, if you know ?

Dr. Devenis. How could they? Ukmerge probably has a popula-
tion of about 35,000. But there were probably 2 divisions of the Red
army, and the people were unarmed. All firearms were confiscated.
If anybody had a gun for hunting, or a pistol, they had to turn it in.
How could they do anything ?

Mr. BoNiN. It seems to me as though I had read some place at
some time that there had been some kind of effort.

Dr. Devenis. Well, they were underground. The underground was
working. I mean they were hiding in the woods, and they would
attack some Red police and so on. But it was not sufficient to over-
throw the Army regime.

Mr. BoNiN. We understand that. You say you occupied a rather
large farm in Lithuania ?

Dr. Devenis. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. Eventually it was nationalized?

Dr. Devenis. It was nationalized ; yes, sir.

Mr. BoNiN. Did these Russians ever pay anybody for nationalizing

Dr. De\^nis. No. When I was liberated and came to America I
filed — ^as the State Department advised me to do — a claim for my
watch, my wedding ring, my car, and so on. I filed this claim against
the Soviet Embassy. They never admitted that those things were
taken from me.

Mr. Bqnin. Do you know whether or not in any of their nationaliza-
tion they paid any of the individuals ?

Dr. Devenis. Not as far as I know, no, because they claim, according
to their authority, that the land belongs to the Government, and then
the Government is not supposed to pay for the land taken.

Mr. Bonin. That is all.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Dodd.

Mr. DoDD. I have no questions.

Mr. Kersten. Just a question or two. Doctor. You have told us
quite a terrifically impressive story, a factual account of life in a
slave labor camp. I believe you are a graduate of Yale University?

Dr. Devenis. Yale Medical School.

Mr. Kersten. That was before all of this happened to you.

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kersten. And you told us about being deported in a cattle
train, a cattle car. How many cars were there ?

Dr. Devenis. In the train about 70 to 80 cars. There were no win-
dows and no doors, no facilities for sanitary necessities except just a
hole in the floor. The people were so crowded that there was no place
to sleep.

Mr. Kersten. You mentioned something about a gold mine.

Dr. Devenis. A coal mine. But they claim that there is gold in
that region.

Mr. Kersten. Did you notice any gold mining going on there too?

Dr. Devenis. No.

Mr. Kersten. I know there is some gold mining supposed to be
carried on in some of those Arctic regions.

Dr. Devenis. They claim there is.


Mr. Kerstex. Tliat gold mining is carried on by slave laborers too,
I understand.

Dr. Devenis. Yes, most of them.

Mr. Kersten. And there are a lot of dead people as a result; that
is, people who have died mining this gold. Is that your understand-
ing too ?

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kerstex. That is some of the gold that Russia is trying to
put on the market here recently, mined with slave labor?

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kersten. Now you talked about these invalids, some without
legs and arms, that you saw. How many were there?

Dr. Devenis. About 80, as I remember.

Mr. Kersten. All in various conditions of invalidism?

Dr. Devenis. Yes ; various conditions of invalidism.

Mr. Kersten. Under the Soviet Communist system they, not being
able to vrork, weren't entitled to eat ?

Dr. Devenis. Not entitled to eat.

Mr. Kersten. And your information was that they were dumped
into the Arctic; is that right?

Dr. Devenis. Yes.

Mr. KJERSTEN. This again is the Communist way of life that we
hear so much propaganda about from behind the Iron Curtain.

You also mentioned about the criminal persons in these camps that
were given a privileged position. That fits into the Communist
pattern, too, doesn't it ?

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kersten. Now there is one more thing I want to ask you about
and then I will be finished. You said that nearly everybody was
against the Government but they were afraid to talk ; is that it ?

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mr. KJERSTEN. Would you say, from your several years in Russia,
that that would be your opinion of the average person, whether he
was a prisoner or not? Do you understand my question?

Dr. Devenis. They were afraid to talk.

Mr. Kersten. Is it your impression that the average person in
Russia is against the Government?

Dr. Devenis. Well, yes; against the Government and against the
conditions, because they are suffering.

Mr. Kersten. As you have detailed here, they have a system of
government that is antihuman, puts criminals in positions of power,
and destroys sick people, invalids. The average person in Russia,
from your observation, doesn't like this any more than any of the rest
of us, wouldn't you say ?

Dr. Devenis. Yes ; that is true.

Mr. Kersten. For that reason they are not for this kind of inhuman
government; would you say that is right?

Dr. Dea-enis. Yes; I would say that is right. They are kept in
this condition by terror.

Mr. Kersten. Can you see any reason why people that are in this
type of government, promulgating this type of idea, could be trusted
in any agreements ?

Dr. Devenis. No.

Mr. Kersten. Would you believe a Communist under oath?


Dr. Devenis. No ; I don't believe so because Communist teaching
is that they should use any means— lying, deceit, and so on— to reach
their goal. So agreements, according to their theory, could be broken
if they don't serve any more their goal. They never keep agi'eements.
I can see, from the Lithuanian point of view, that they have so many
agreements, 1922, 1929, and 1939 agreements where they pledged, the
Russians pledged neutral security pact, but when they invaded, they
broke that. They have never kept that agreement.

Mr. Kersten. You mentioned about the state radios. Were you in a
position to know whether or not there might be some secret radios
around that weren't obvious — that some people had ?

Dr. Devenis. I imagine there were, yes, but the people had to be
very careful because even if they listened to a foreign radio it was
capital punishment.

Mr. DoDD. Do you have any idea as to how we could reach these
people in Russia ?

Dr. De\^nis. Well, I think by the Voice of America, and probably
supplying radios, free radios, I think that Iron Curtain could be
pierced by the Voice of America.

Mr. DoDD. That would be difficult to do, wouldn't it?
Dr. De\tenis. Yes.
Mr. DoDD. That is all.

Mr. Madden. Doctor, from your experience over there and observing
the Communist conspiracy, what do you think will be the future?
Do you believe there will be eventually an uprising or a revolution or a
split among the leaders of the Kremlin ? You can answer that if you
care to. If you don't know or don't have any opinion, that is all right,
too. Would you have any opinion about what is going to be the
outcome of this ?

Dr. Devenis. Well, I think that if war breaks out with Russia, if
Russia is going to be engaged in a war with the West, then the people —
that would be the moment for the people. But if external help is
not going to be supplied to Russia, the Russian people themselves
without external help wouldn't uprise.

For instance, in East Germany there was an uprising. If at that
time enough help had been thrown to those people, that uprising would
have spread all over Russia, and so on. But if there was no external
help, that uprising is just forced down.

Mr. Bentley. One more question, please. Doctor. I don't imagine
that in these camps you got much of an opportunity for any form of
religious worship, but from your experiences would you say that all
the leading religions of the Western World were well represented
among the people in these camps?

Mr. DiaoiNis. Well, I should say yes. They were afraid to admit it
but inside of their hearts they were religious. I can tell you an ex-
perience. In Russia during Easter it is a common habit to go up to
anybody, whether you know him or not, and kiss him and tell him that
the Christ cliild has arisen. One day I was approached by a prisoner —
I didn't know him — and he kissed me and he said, "Christ has arisen."
So in the depths of their hearts they still are religious, but they are
afraid to admit it openly.

Mr. Bentley. I am certain that among the people in these camps
you found Catholics, Protestants, and Jews all subject to such per-
secution, is that right?


Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mr. Benti^ey. Thank you.

Mr. BoNiN. Followino- the question <asked by Congressman Madden,
isn't it true that tlie only reason that Russia refuses to make an out-
ward attack or any formal involvements with another nation throuo;h
force or violence is that it is afraid of its own people, what might hap-
pen if they should do that; and therefore they are using other nations
to accomplish their purpose so that they are fearful of what their
own people might do and that is the reason they are using the United
Nations, they are using incidents such as Korea, they are vising in-
cidents in Indochina and incidents such as took place recently in
Teheran ?

Dr. Devenis. I have no doubt about that because if war would break
out between Eussia and the West or between Russia and any other
country, the people would make an uprising against the Russian

Mr. BoNiN. The reason I ask that question — and you have somewhat
answered it — is that it is a fact that almost invariably in every conflict
that Russia has been involved in, sooner or later the people gave up.
Is that right, they wouldn't support their Government?

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mr. BoNiN. And that's the reason Andrei Vishinsky today is lying
and deceiving and using all forms of hypocrisy in order to fool the
free world and continue with it as long as they possibly can ?

Dr. De\t.nis. Yes, because they don't have any other arguments
except lying and deceit.

Mr. Kersten. Don't you think, too, Doctor, that this lack of desire
to support their Government — in actual opposition to it even though
it is not spoken — is in a large number of even the young men of the
armed forces under the control of the Communists, sons of peasants
and other members of the armed forces ?

Dr. Devenis. Until now the armed forces were under control of the
secret police. Almost every 10 or 15 men had a political man from
the secret police. They always watched to see whether the men talked
betw^een one another, and so on.

Mr. IvERSTEN. That again would demonstrate the unreliability of
even many of the people in the armed forces ?

Dr. Devenis. Yes, sir.

Mv. Kersten. Where such a system of terror is used by the Govern-
ment, is that right ?

Dr. Dea^nis. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you. Dr. Devenis. You have made a real con-
tribution to these hearings and you have been a very splendid witness.
Your experiences I am sure have not been in vain.

Dr. De^^nis. Thank you.

Mr. Kersten. The hearings will be adjourned until tomorrow morn-
ing at 10 : 30 a. m.

(Thereupon, at 5 : 05 p. m., the committee adjourned, to reconvene
at 10: 30 a. in., Friday, December 4, 1953.)



House of Representatives,

Baltic Committee,

Washington, D. C.
The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 : 45 a. m., in
room 110, United States Courthouse, New York, N. Y,, Hon. Charles
J. Kersten (chairman of the committee) presiding.

Present: Messrs. Kersten, Bentley, Bonin, Madden, Machrowicz,
and Dodd.
Also present; James J. McTigue, committee counsel,
Mr, Kersten, The hearing will come to order.
Is Mr. Watson present ?


Mr. Kersten. Mr. Watson, will you raise your right hand, please?
Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Mr. Watson. I do.

Mr. Kersten. Will you state your full name, Mr. Watson, please ?

Mr. Watson. Thomas John Watson.

Mr. Kersten. Your residence is where, Mr. Watson?

Mr. Watson. New York City.

Mr. Kersten. And what is your occupation ?

Mr. Watson. I am chairman of the board of the International
Busineses Machines Corp.

Mr. Kersten. You were the originator of this organization, were
you not ?

Mr. Watson. No ; I took it over when it was very small and tried
to build it up.

Mr. Kersten. That was many years ago, wasn't it ?

Mr. Watson. In 1914.

Mr. Kersten. Did you have occasion sometime in the late 1930's to
visit any of the Baltic nations ?

Mr. Watson. Yes, in 1938.

Mr. Kersten, In what capacity at that time ?

Mr, Watson. In connection with my own business, also the Inter-
national Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Kersten. What position did you hold with the International
Chamber of Commerce?

Mr. Watson. I was the president.

Mr, Kersten. I presume you held many positions in organizations
of this kind?

52975— 54— pt. 1 12 165


Mr. Watson. I was president of the ^Merchants Association in New
York, I have been a member of the board of the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace for a long time. I am now an honorary mem-
ber. Then there were different civic bodies, the United States Cham-
ber of Commerce, the New York Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Kersten. Throughont 3'onr career j^ou have had occasion to
be in close contact with the evaluation of the economy of this or other
countries, haven't you ?

Mr. Watson. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And conditions, business conditions, commerce con-
ditions, and so forth?

Mr. Watson. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. You visited the Baltic nations in 1938, you said?

Mr. Watson. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. You were at that time president of the International
Chamber of Commerce?

Mr. Watson. Yes, sir.

Mr. IvERSTEN. How long did you remain in the Baltic area at that
time ?

Mr. Watson. Well, I didn't remain in Lithuania very long, but I
was in Latvia and Estonia and those countries, I would say at least
2 weeks, as near as I remember.

Mr. Kersten. Do you recall the time of the year that you were

Mr. Watson. It was in the spring.

Mr. KJERSTEN. Did you have an opportunity to observe the general
conditions, including the economic conditions and general condition of
the people at the time you were there ?

Mr. Watson. I did. I had an opportunity to talk with the local
members, that is, the members of the different countries, M'ho repre-
sented their countries in the International Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Kersten. You were particularly interested in observing the
economic conditions of those countries at that time, were you not ?

Mr. Watson. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. With that in mind and referring your attention to
the condition of those countries, would you tell us in your own way,
Mr. Watson, Mdiat you obserA'ed about these Baltic nations in 1938 ?

Mr. Watson. In Latvia, my first observation was the type of people,
the refined people. Everybody appeared to be happy, well dressed and
well fed. I was told that they imported harvest labor from Poland to
take care of their harvest. I found that they were doing an outstand-
ing job in agriculture. They had cut out the large estates and were
down to smaller farms. They had gotten people out on the land.
They were developing industries; they showed me a great deal of
what was going on. I had a chance to get out in the country. One
thing I observed, they had a very, very fine resort hotel in Latvia just
outside of Kiga. I was quite amazed at the equipment and every-
thing and at what they were doing tliere. The stoi-es all looked pros-
perous. We stayed at a very good hotel; everythhig was up to date.
I had no occasion to complain about anytliing while we were in the
country. The people were very courteous.

The President, President Uhnanis, graduated from the University
of Nebraska and tlion taught tliere for 2 or 3 years.
Mr. Kersten. At the University of Nebraska ?


Mr. Watson. Yes, then he went back to his own country and took
lip educational work which he followed until Latvia became a free
country and they made him president. I felt he was doing an out-
standing job and he was surrounded by a group of fine peoi:)le in his

Mr. Kersten. Did you meet Ulmanis at the time ?
Mr. Watson. Yes, indeed.

Mr. KerstExV. And some of the other members of the Government?
Mr. Watson. I met the Prime Minister ; I can't recall his name just
now. He was a very brilliant young man. He presided at several
important meeting's at the League of Nations in Geneva.
Mr. Kersten. Who w^as this?

Mr. Watson. The Prime Minister. He was a very outstanding man
and that was pi-etty important work he was doing in connection w^ith
the League of Nations.

Mr. IvERSTEN. The Prime Minister of the Latvian Government had
been presiding over the League of Nations sessions, had he?
Mr. Watson. Some of them.

Mr. Kersten. What was the condition of the people generally as
3^ou observed them there, Mr. Watson ?

Mr. Watson. From my observations conditions were fine and every-
body appeared to be satisfied and happy with their country and what
was going on.

Mr. Kersten. Did you get to Estonia?
Mr. Watson. I did.

Mr. Kersten. Will you tell us what you observed there ?
Mr. Watson. I had a chance there to spend quite a little time be-
cause Mrs. Watson was taken wath pneumonia. I would like to say
slie couldn't have had better care anywhere than she got there and
she came through all right. I am very grateful to everybody ; every-
body took an interest. I had two wonderful doctors and a good
nurse, and so forth.

Then I was taken over near the Russian border to the textile indus-
try. They had a very nice cotton mill there and a woolen mill. One
thing that impressed me with the cotton mill was that they were
making various products from cotton imported from Georgia.
Mr. Kersten. You mean the State of Georgia ?
Mr. Watson. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. In the United States?

Mr. Watson. Yes. They also told me they were selling white
thread in the LTnited States, importing white cotton and thread into
the United States, which impressed me very much.

Mr. Kj:rsten. Did their condition of export and import to the vari-
ous countries of the world seem to be pretty good so far as you were
able to observe?
Mr. Watson. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Are there any other things yon can tell us about from
your observations of the life of these countries at that time, just before
or shortly before the Comnumists took over ?

Mr. Watson. I was so impressed that when I came home I told
everybod}^ I came in contact with how deeply I was impressed with
the economy and everything else in the country, the quality of the
people and their happiness.


Mr. Kersten. You didn't get the opportunity at that time to visit
Lithuania, did you ?

Mr. Watson. No.

Mr. Kersten. But from your conversations with the other people,
the people in Latvia and Estonia, as to the economic advance, can you
tell us what your understanding or information was as to whether
similarly Lithuania had also made unusual advances in economy such
as Latvia and Estonia did ?

Mr. Watson. I can't recall that that was discussed in Latvia or
Estonia, but my understanding at the time, from what I learned, was
that they were making real progress.

Mr. Kersten. In other words, from your observation the progress
of these three Baltic nations was all approximately the same and they
had all made great economic advances. Is that your understanding?

Mr. Watson. Yes. They had pretty good balance in their indus-
tries ; if you would like to hear it, in agriculture, potatoes, oats, rye,
barley, wheat and flax.

Mr. Kersten. Would you tell us about that ?

Mr. Watson. In potatoes they had 1,751,000 metric tons in 1939.
I believe that was the vear. They had 450,000 metric tons of oats,
429,000 of rye and 209,000 of barley, 198,000 of wheat and 41,000 of
flax. That impresses anyone, I think, with their good balance, not
depending entirely on 1 or 2 crops.

In livestock, sheep, cattle, pigs, horses, quite an industry in beans,
honey and poultry. They had a million and a half, approximately of
sheep, a million and a quarter head of cattle.

In industry, the metallurgical employees were 16,800, woodwork-

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