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Lithuania, and also with the Lietuvos Bankas.

Mr. Kersten. Before you go into the story of your experience there^
do you hold any degi-ees in economics ?

Dr. TiMAKAS. Well, I got my doctor's degree in economics in France,
Paris. I studied also international law at the Academy of Interna-
tional Law at The Hague. As well I studied law at the law school in
Lithuania, and international relations in Geneva at the School of In-
ternational Relations there, with the League of Nations at that time.

Mr. Kersten. And following that what has been your study in eco-
nomics ?

Dr. TRIMAK.4S. Well, I have two major fields of interest — economics
and political sicence too. I was teaching in this country not only eco-
nomics but political science. So in this capacity I had to study all
the relations in Europe and Eastern Europe especially, and also else-

Mr. Kersten. How long have you been teaching at Seton Hall Uni-
versity in the United States ?

Dr. Trimakas. I have been teaching there since 1950.

Mr. I^rsten. Wliere is Seton Hall located?

Dr. Trimakas. That is located in Newark, N. J., but they have their
branches in Jersey City and South Orange, N. J.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you formerly in the service of the Free
Lithuanian Government?

Dr. Trimakas, Yes; I w^as in the foreign service from 1929 till
the beginning of World War II.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you in Lithuania when the Russians
marched in ?


Dr. Trimakas. When the Russians marched in I was in Lithuania,
but in the historical capital of Vilnius, where I w^as active as the
consul general for Poland.

Mr. McTiGUE. You had dealings with the Soviet prior to the time
of that march ?

Dr. Trimakas. Yes ; with the commander in chief of the Red forces
that occupied half of Poland in 1939, a certain marshal, Kovalev.

Mr. McTiGUE. You knew what to expect then. After the Com-
munists had seized power in Lithuania in June of 1940, were there
any reflections of that changeover in the economy of Lithuania?

Dr. Trimakas. Oh, yes; major changes. First of all, we should
understand perfectly well that the Soviet purpose is to change the
people, to change the freeman into the Soviet man. And that has a
meaning, not simply that term, but also an essential meaning. For
them, lirst of all man has to be deprived of all what he owned or
possessed before in order to make him a kind of slave, a slave of their
regime, of their system, and a servant of the new established order.
They take away from him all that he possessed. They start from
that. They made all people in the Soviet Union miserably poor. They
had to do the same with the people in the countries they occupied.

The purpose was, first, to change the type of people; and second,
to make also their standard of living the same as they used to have
in their own country within the limits of the Soviet Union of 1939.
So in order to do that they had to proceed to the expropriation, and
by that I understand that they took away everything the people had
without any remuneration, without any pay. If you had property,
land, industrial, or any business enterprise, that did no longer belong
to you.

In principle again we understand that is according to the Marxian
conception : all productive means should belong to the government,
the state; nothing should belong to the man. Therefore it is to take
aw^ay everything he has, and that is what they did.

Mr, McTiGUE. Doctor, what happened to the prices and the wages
and the living standard in Lithuania after the seizure?

Dr. Trimakas. Well, after the seizure, it changed everything. First
of all, as I mentioned, they had to level the standard of living. How,
by what means? There are several means, either direct control or
indirect, by changing the price, charging different prices. To intro-
duce that kind of redistribution of wealth and to attribute to this
and that a certain amount would be very difficult. It is much easier
to raise the prices to such a point that the people would be unable
to buy. That is what they succeeded in getting.

When the prices went up, they went up sometimes 10 and 15 times
higher than they had been before. Just for illustration, I could men-
tion some of the prices that I got by various channels. Mr. Kutt
spoke of that.

Mr. McTiGTJE. Yes. I remember he mentioned watches. What,
for example, was the price of an average suit before the takeover in
Litliuauia and what is the approximate price now?

Dr. Trimakas. Before the takeover by the Communists, we paid
$24. It was_ already a good suit. From that it went up to $40.
After the Russians took over they changed it to a really huge differ-
ence. The people behind the Iron Curtain now pay for the same
suit $500.


A simple dress, cotton dress, costs as hi^h as $250. So you will
understand how much shoes cost, too. Now it is $70 or $80. You
can understand why the people can't buy. It is not necessary for
them to produce, for all the surplus is taken away to the Soviet Union.

Mr. McTiGUE. How much would an egg cost over there ^

Dr. Trimakas. An egg costs now 55 cents, 1 lone egg. Very ordi-
nary meat, low-quality meat costs $24 a pound. It is about the same
price for butter. This shows simply the price, but we have to com-
pare the wages. Then we will see what is the purchasing power of
money today.

The average income of the Soviet citizen today is $119 a month.
That is true in Lithuania, that is about true everywhere over there.
So you can imagine how long a man has to work in order to buy just
a suit. Therefore they don't have adequate suits. They really are
poor looking. Cotton suits only, no wool ; that would cost too much.
Under their climatic conditions it is really unbearable, and it makes
life terribly miserable and difficult.

If you will permit, Mr. Chairman, I will give an illustration of
the situation in the countryside of Lithuania and also a major picture
of what it was and what it is at the present moment. That will show
you the difference. As you know, the collectivization of farms is the
aim of the connnunistic system. They justify that by saying that
they will increase the productivit3^

On the other side it has a political reason. They concentrate the
people in certain spots, localities where they may and are able to
control them easier for political reasons, to control their movements,
their daily lives, and also to indoctrinate them. That is the easiest
way. Therefore, they had not only to concentrate farms into bigger
farms but also to take the housing from those small settlements,
homesteads and into certain concentration, into groups where the
people are concentrated and live under control.

In Lithuania now we have 97 percent of all agricultural farms col-
lectivized. So they are grouped in collective farms. Those remain-
ing are simply small lots that could not be joined to the big farms
and they are without any economic value to the production ; they were
left out. Then they have small orchards around their small houses
which they may cultivate as they like and have a few hens or some-
thing like that and improve somewhat their living condition.

According to what I laiow and to what I saw myself as I remained
under the Communist regime for 1 year from the occupation of Lithu-
ania in 1940-41 when the Germans came, this is the situation. The
people have nothing better to eat than just that Russian-type dark
rye bread ; very ordinary, and that is almost all. There is some milk
and no fats. It is curious enough that while here fats have no value,
or very little, there it would be the highest value the people could get,
but they don't have enough.

Therefore, under these conditions you can understand their pro-
ductivity and their willingness to work on the farms when they, his-
torically, have been accustomed to be independent on their farms, to
work for themselves. What is left to them is simply to work as slaves
of the state. The state takes everything away and leaves them just
that bread.

Mr. McTiGTJE. Have you got any information on the exports from
the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia before the seizure?


Dr. Trimakas. I have a very interesting comparison if I could cite
it. That is a comparison of the foreign trade in Lithuania and in
other Baltic countries. And of course I do not need to emphasize
here the difference in size of the Baltic States and the Soviet Union.

For instance, at that time — in 1938 — the Baltic countries exported
$293,700,000 of all kinds of goods, and at the same time they did im-
port $292 million. The Soviet Union, that huge, colossal state in
Eastern Europe, exported only $261 million, and imported $250 mil-
lion. You can see the difference.

The Lithuanians exported about $13 to $15 per head. The Rus-
sians only $1 per head. That shows you the picture, how the situa-
tion is.

Mr. Kersten. You are speaking now, of course, of the Russians
under the Communist regime?

Dr. Trimakas. That's it.

Mr. Kersten. They have been under the Communist regime for
some years; that is correct, isn't it?

Dr. Trimakas. I mean the Soviet Union.

Mr. McTiGUE. These are 1938 figures?

Dr. Trimakas. Yes, before the last war, immediately.

The same could be said as regards their productivity of land. You
know that they are changing now the social and economic structure of
those occupied countries, that is, not only in Lithuania but everywhere
in the Baltic countries — in Poland and Czechoslovakia, and so on,
also the Balkans ; they are changing from an agricultural type of pro-
duction to a more industrial type of production.

But at the same time the productivity of the farms declined, disre-
garding the fact that they concentrated the farms for an increase
in productivity and also that they secured certain machinery, but of
poor quality.

For instance, in Lithuania in 1939 we had about 25 bushels of rye
per hectare. Now today in the same Lithuania, on the same farms,
they have only 11 bushels per hectare. In wheat we had 24,000 bushels.
Now it is 10. Potatoes, we had 340 bushels. Now they have 185.
Horses 480,000; now 213,000. Sheep, 1,200,000; now only 260,000.
Pigs, 1 million plus; now 315,000.

All this indicates what kind of food they are able to provide to
the people when wheat and hogs decline to abnormal proportions.
They can't provide any better food for the city population, nor to the

Mr. Kersten. I would gather from those figures that the Com-
munists have succeeded in cutting down the economy of the Baltic
Nations, including Lithuania of course, to pretty much the same level
as they have maintained the huge Russian economy.

Dr. Trimakas. That is it.

Mr. Kersten. You pointed out, I believe, that in the other nations
the Communists have taken over, similar things have happened.

Dr. Trimakas. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. So that the economy really goes down when the false
propaganda goes up ; is that about it?

Dr. Trimakas. Yes. You heard the propaganda from Vishinsky^
how production was going up, how it increased in those countries, but
he took just certain of the factors; he did not give you the full picture.


He took certain items where they increased — the production that they
need for Russia.

Nowadays everything is taken by Moscow for their own needs.
Therefore, when production went up it was only for those articles
that they are interested in and that they need in Russia in the Soviet
Union, and that is where it goes. The rest is simply very poor quality
consumer goods. The reaeson for the enormous shortage of those
consumer goods is simply the high prices.

Mr. McTiGUE. Let me ask you this : Can you tell us anything about
labor unions before the seizure and labor unions after the seizure by
the Communists?

Dr. Triimakas. Well, the labor union problem is really one of the
most interesting chapters in the whole Soviet social policy and their
activities. They insisted their regime was in favor of labor unions,
labor unions as composed and organized by workers, and they claimecl
always to be the protectors of the workers.

However, these unions, as with any other organizations there, lost
their nature and their freedom. Today the unions are organized by
obligation. Every one of the workers has to join the unions. They
have to pay their membership dues, and the part played by labor
unions is entirely different now from that we have in the free world.

Now the unions are not to protect the worker but to serve the
regime, to see whether the workers are really performing their duties
or not. Thus the purpose of the union is simply to control whether
the workers are coming in on time to the factories, whether they are
staying at their places of employment the whole 8 hours, whether
they are attending the indoctrination courses.

If it sometimes happens that a man falls sick and cannot come, they
send their representative to the home of the worker and check to see
whether he really is sick.

Mr. McTiGUE. What happens they strike?

Dr. Trimakas. There is no right whatsoever to strike; there is no
right. The state justifies this on the basis that the state owns every-
thing and that the state is a proletarian state. How could the prole-
tarians strike against the proletarians? So strikes are, in principle,
prohibited, and if anybody does something in this regard they would
be punished, and even for any tardiness in coming to the w^orking
places, he is very severely punished. The first time you come 5 min-
utes too late, your salary is deducted by 25 percent for 3 months. The
second time you are late 5 minutes, your salary is deducted by the same
percentage for 6 months. The third time you disappear.

What does it mean? You know perfectly well. Either you are
jailed or you are deported to the Soviet Union for lack of discipline at
that place of employment. Thus you are considered an enemy of
the regime and of the people and, therefore, you should be punished.

Now the freedom of those same people is restricted also as to where
they are to live. They have to live where they get employment. And
to get a job is a complex problem. First of all the party checks you:
what have you been doing; what are your qualifications; did you
attend the meetings, and so on and so on, and if you failed, well, you
are not qualified to assume any functions and to take any job.

If you don't get a job, you have no right to live, to reside there
where you are. You have to go somewhere else to look for work. If
you don't find work, they find it for you, and thus it is a continuous


deportation of people for the reason that you simply could not find
a job. They take care of you — they find you a job behind the Ural
Mountains. That is the system.

Also very typical for the workers, all of them have to buy Soviet
Union bonds to help the state.

Mr. Kersten. You mean the workers in Lithuania have to buy
Soviet Union bonds ?

Dr. Trimakas. Everybody is obliged to do that. That is supposed
to be voluntary, but when you come to pick up your salary or wages,
the accountant deducts without asking you. He says, "That is pre-
scribed, that was decided by everybody. You have to pay that."

Mr. McTiGUE. It is a rather sizable deduction ?

Dr. Trimakas. Sometimes it amounts to 25 percent.

Mr. McTiGUE. 25 percent ?

Dr. Trimakas. 25 percent of your wages or salary.

You have those bonds and you need money ; you clon't know what to
do. You either have to sell, which is what the majority have to do,
or you go to the bank to borrow money for your consumer needs. You
pledge your bonds. You give them the bonds that you purchased for
10 percent of their value. If you are unable to pay back your loan,
you lose your bonds. So that is twice you are robbed of your posses-
sions, and you don't get back anything for that.

Another chapter of the same nature but very interesting too is the
obligation to save; the people have to save. Then when you keep
your money with the banks, a certain percentage from your salary,
then you cannot get back everything you want ; you must have autlior-
ization, you must explain the need, why are you needing the money,
how are you going to use it ? If you get it, the state takes back half of
it at times.

This is continuous in order to keep the people at certain low levels
of standard of living.

Mr. McTiGUE. There always was a strong cooperative movement
in Lithuania, wasn't there. Doctor ?

Dr. Trimakas, Oh, yes. In Lithuania, as in most of those countries
in northern Europe the people started to organize their national econ-
omy on the basis of the cooperative societies.

Mr. Kersten. You mean before the Communists came ?

Dr. Trimakas. Before the Communists. They collected small sav-
ings to enlarge their capital, and then to organize the cooperative
societies. In Lithuania we had about 25 to 30 percent of the whole
economy already in the hands of the cooperative societies.

That is more or less the picture in the Scandinavian countries.
When the Communists arrived, they could not tolerate such a type
of organization, although in principle even their collective farms are
cooperative societies. The cooperatives, first of all, had to forget their
freedom. Officers of the central bodies of the cooperative societies
were appointed. The candidates were indicated by the party and the
Government, and those had to be elected, the president, the vice presi-
dent, and so on. It was the same way all the way up and down — the
officers of the cooperative societies were not elected but simply indi-
cated, appointed by the party, by the Communist regime. And so the
cooperatives now are simply economic instruments, as any other eco-
nomic enterprise in the hands of the Soviet (Ttovernment.


I would like to stress the point of the Soviet Government ; not the
Lithuanian but the Soviet Union. Any property belongs to the
Soviet Union. As such there are certain degrees as regards the admin-
istration, but first of all, all that belongs to the Central Ministries in
Moscow that dictate the plans, how they are planning the economy
and how also they are working out the budget on which depends
everything in the country.

The planning is not done in Lithuania today, nor in Latvia nor in
Estonia, but in Mocow by the Dosplan. That is the State Central
Planning Commission, which then indicates to you the tasks in produc-
tion, in business, in agriculture, and according to their general needs
everything that is necessary for armament, for the army ; then what
is necessary for nutrition in the big cities, and as I mentioned only
25 percent of the goods produced in Lithuania are left there ; the rest
being taken away to the Soviet Union.

Mr. McTiGUE. You testified earlier, Doctor, that you had been an
official of the Central Farmers Bank at one time, in 1940. Can you
tell us something about what has happened to the banks and the cur-
rency after the seizure ?

Dr. Trimakas. Well, when the Communists arrived, first of all
they took the Central Bank in their possession. That Central Bank
had also the right to issue currency, and it was most important. This
bank became immediately a branch of the Gosbank in Moscow, that
Js the state bank in Moscow, the Central Soviet Union Bank; it was a
branch, no longer a Lithuanian Communist institution but a Soviet
bank institution.

All gold reserves that they still found were taken, and all the vaults
in the banks owned by private citizens were opened — they were obliged
to open them — and all valuables were taken, too. For instance, securi-
ties. All securities had to be turned in, and they were never returned.
All deposits were blocked and all the banks were under the direct con-
trol of this single central bank.

Even business enterprises had to submit every day all their cash
balances to the bank. The next day they could get back only accord-
ing to the plan, according to the calculations of the banlc. Thus con-
trol of the liquid assets immediately was taken by the central bank.
All the currency then was under their control, and the Lithuanian
national currenc}^, the litas, was then changed into rubles some 3 or
4 months after the occupation. It was in proportion of 1 to 1, disre-
garding that the Lithuanian national currency was based on the gold
standard. That was the only one in Europe, even after the devalua-
tion of the dollar, that remained on the gold standard. It was done
by a simple order of the Soviet authorities.

Thus they took possession, the control of the whole economy, of gold
currency transactions, business, finances and everything. That was
the major instrument of control.

Mr. McTiGUE. All nationalized?

Dr. Trimakas. All nationalized. You must make a distinction
there. "Nationalization" usually carries with it certain remuneration.
Here it was expropriation, taken away without any pay. So maybe it
is better to use the word "expropriation." That corresponds better to

Mr. McTiGUE. Instead of nationalization.

Dr., Trimakas. Yes, instead of nationalization.


Mr. McTiGUE. I am going to ask you the same question that I asked
Dr. Kutt. What explanation, briefly, do you give to the apparent
discrepancy between the comparatively high industrial output and the
low living standards during the postwar period in Lithuania ?

Dr. Tkimakas. Well, following what I have said, you may conclude
that first of all the countries that have been annexed or occupied, they
had and have to serve their purposes, Soviet purposes, and for this
reason: they are taking away the lion's portion of their economy.
What remains is at the disposal of the people. Every standard is low.

It is first of all that the Soviets take 75 percent of the production
away for almost nothing. As they are the owners, they may do what
they like with that.

As regards the productive expansion in certain branches, well I
understand it is because those branches are of interest to Moscow, not
to the local interests. Therefore, we have certain expansion of indus-
trial production and a decline in agricultural production. Here they
have no interest, or very little. And as the people have no interest to
increase their productivity, so the agi'i cultural production declines,
and thus the nutrition, the food of the people and their standards.

That is the only reason. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain
the discrepancy that we see. But again you should never believe what
the official statistics of the Soviet give you, as they do not publish any
official statistics for information purposes.

I myself tried at the United Nations and everywhere else to get
that information, but since 1936 no statistical information whatsoever
on the Soviet economy has been published. The reason is that they
do not want to disclose the real situation. Therefore we have to come
to conclusions through all kinds of deductions and comparisons.
Otherwise it is very difficult to know.

Again in this connection I should stress the resistance of the people
in the country against that regime. As I told you, the farmers have
been accustomed to live independent and feel like kings in their realms
on their farms. Now they have been simply enslaved. Therefore
they resisted and continue to resist even today.

The Partisans are still active here and there. They really tried
to prevent them from importing Soviet officers to those collective
farms and thus leave more freedom to the people themselves.

And here I should again express my gratitude to The Voice of
America. The Voice of America really is followed by the people.
I have even certain good news, that there are young people tliat are
going some 20 miles from their residences to listen to The Voice of
Arnerica, in order to hear what is the truth, what is the reality outside
their country and whether there is any hope for freedom, for libera-
tion or not.

So, therefore, any messages from this country, from the free world
are very helpful and may render their situation somewhat easier be-
cause of the hope for better times in the future. That is of real in-
terest for us.

Mr. McTiGTJE. I have no further questions.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Bonin.

Mr. BoNiN, Doctor, in reference to the economic and industrial
situation of each country that Russia has occupied, is the changing
of their economic and industrial situation for the benefit of the people


in the occupied countries, or is it for the benefit of the military and

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 24 of 75)