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

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discharged and I obtained my citizenship in 1919.

Mr. McTiGUE, When did you return to Lithuania ?

Mr. Dicmanas. In 1921.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you stay on in Lithuania after 1921?

Mr, Dicmanas, Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you go into business in Lithuania ?

Mr. Dicmanas. Yes, sir.

Mr. McTiGUE. From the period 1921 to 1939 ?

Mr. Dicmanas. Yes, 1939 or 1940,

Mr. McTiGUE, What were your interests and your net worth
approximately at the time the Communists seized Lithuania in 1940 ?

Mr. Dicmanas. $135,000.

Mr. McTiGUE. That is, in American dollars ?

Mr. Dicmanas. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Your net worth was approximately $135,000 ?

Mr. Dicmanas. Yes.

]Mr. McTiGUE. What were your interests ; what did you own ?

Mr. Dicmanas. Well, I owned apartment houses. Here is my deed
if you would want to see it.

Mr. McTiGUE. No ; just tell us what you owned. That is enough.

Mr. DicaiANAS. I owned apartment houses, 22-family apartment
house, which cost me 540 thousand litas. That is equal to $90,000.
Secondly, I owned a farm. That cost me $11,500 on the land and
houses and then equipment and livestock 35,000 litas, which cost me
about $6,000.

Then I purchased a summer house. I have some pictures too, if you
are interested.

Mr. McTiGUE, What happened to your farm and what happened to
your apartment house after the Communist take-over ?

Mr, Dicmanas, Well, the communists came on June 15, 1940, The
Russian Army occupied Kaunas, and on June 16 and 17 entire Lithu-
ania was under occupation.

On June 17 all my bank deposits were confiscated and payments
withheld. Here is a bankbook, 50,000 litas, and there is a receipt of

Mr. McTiGUE. That is all right. We will take your word. You are
under oath.

Mr, Dicmanas, On July 3, 1940, two NKVD officers called at my
apartment, accompanied by a local communist party agent, and an-
nounced that my 22-apartment house will be used to accommodate the
Red army officers and their families. They ordered to hand them
the list of my tenants. On hand of the list, they inspected on the same
day 12 apartments, the tenants of which were issued order to vacate the
apartments within the next 24 hours. They were threatened with se-


vere punishments, should the order not be followed. On July 5 and
July G, the 12 apartments were fully occupied by the NKVD oflicers.
One of the apartments was converted into office.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you get any rent from the Soviet after your
apartments were taken '{

Mr. DicMANAS. No, sir. I will tell you shortly how it happened.

Mr. McTiGUE. Go ahead.

Mr. DiCMANAS. On August 1 I called at the office and inquired wdio
is going to pay the rental for the 12 apartments in question. There I
was introduced to the NKVD Captain Yuryev, who instructed me to.
write out bills for rent for each tenant separately and to leave the bills
with him (Captain Yuryev). I asked Captain Yuryev to give me a
sample text of such a bill. Captain Yuryev, for about an hour,
scribbled something on a paper, tearing it again and again to pieces.
Finally, he gave me a sample of a bill text. I immediately set out to
writing bills following the instructions-orders of Captain Yuryev and
left them at his office. Captain Yuryev told me to call at his office in
2 weeks.

When after 2 weeks I called, Captain Yuryev advised me that
the bills were not correctly written and gave me a new text sample.
I rewrote the bills according to the new. Captain Yuryev's, instruc-
tions and submitted them to him. I was told to inquire in 2 weeks.
When the 2 weeks were over, I was again in his office only to hear the
same story that the bills were not correctly written. Captain Yur-
yev, for the third time gave me a new text sample, according to which
I again prepared new bills and submitted to him.

After the elapse of the further 2 weeks, I called again at the office
where I was told that Captain Yuryev left for 4 weeks. By that
time I understood perfectly well the meaning of his absence, as I
have talked in the meantime to other owners of houses, wdiere the Red
army members were located. All complained of the same thin^r,
of same crooked deal, and no one was receiving rental from their
new tenants.

After 4 wrecks, I learned from my janitor that Captain Yuryev is
back. I came to his office and inquired when am I going to be paid
the rental. Captain Yuryev's answer was as follows :

You don't want to understand that bills have to be approved by the govern-
ment in Moscow. The special employees will transfer the money through the
financial department to the staff of the division.

Since more than 3 months have passed from the beginning of my
dealing with Captain Yuryev and since by that time I was absolutely
sure that I had to do w^ith a gang of liars and crooks who, during the
past 30 years have acquired tremendous practice in terrorizing people,
I replied to Yuryev's remark "My farm is run by your commissary,
and I get no profit from it; my business 'Vienybe' in Vilnius is also
administered by your commissary, and I have no income from it;
the rental from my real estate will never be paid to me — and you are
■very well aware of it. So why then this unfair method of dealing?
Wliere is your logic?"

Yuryev blushed furiously, grasped from his desk a pistol and
showing it to me retorted : "This is our logic." Thereupon, he ordered
me to leave his office and to never show here again.


The same night, at about 10 p. m., a yonng soldier of about 18-19
years of age, working as a clerk in Captain Yuryev's office, came
through the rear door of my apartment to see me. He talked in
whispers and asked me where could he talk without being overheard.
I closed the doors to the adjoining rooms, and the soldier started talk-
ing, again in whispers :

"I am not of Russian nationality, I am a Ukrainian, and I am not a
Communist. My parents were farmers ; because they did not w^ant to
join the kolkhoz, my father severely beaten by Communists and died.
The farm buildings were reduced to ashes. My mother and sister
were compelled to join the kolkhoz. At that time I was 7 years of age
and I was sent to an orphanage. Neither my mother nor my older
sister were allowed to see me during the following 5 years. Only when
I was 12 years of age, a permission was granted to me to see my mother
and sister, who were working in a kolkhoz. When I was IS years of
age, I was drafted into army and appointed to the NKVD, to stay
with Captain Yuryev. I would advise you to act very prudently,
not to argue with Captain Yuryev, and not to call on him, because
this can result in deportation to slave labor camp of you and your
family." Taking leave he told : "May God's help be with you."

Immediately after the soldier's departure, the same night at about
1 a. m. I left the house, and for the subsequent 6 weeks lived in hiding
at some smallholders-farmers, maintaining contact with my family
in Kaunas. I learned that on the day following my departure, 2
NKVD soldiers appeared in our apartment asking my wife for my
v.hereabouts. When answered that she does not know they produced
an order for 3 rooms in our apartment. On the next clay they moved
in, confiscating all furniture they found in these rooms. My family
consisting of 4 persons were allowed 1 room and a kitchen.

During the 6 weeks the NKVD agents did not inquire about me.
As my morale and my money were reaching the bottom and being ex-
tremely tired, I decided to return home and to start looking for some
job. However, to get a job a certificate from Communist Party was
necessary. Of course, the Comparty did not issue me such a certifi-
cate, and I could get no job. To fight the starvation, which was fac-
ing me and my family, I started peddling family clothing, under-
wear and other household objects to farmers in exchange for food,
risking high penalties if caught.

I had no income whatsoever coming from business, real estate or
farm, which were administered by special commissaries. During
January and February 19-11 began the nationalization of private
property, during which all my property was expropriated.

Mr. Kersit-n. Mr. Dicmanas, you have already told us about your
prol^ert3^ I have your statement here. At the end of this page
here "On June 22, 1941 — " do you want to continue with that part ?

Mr. Dicmanas. Yes, sir. On June 22, 1941, war between Germany
and Russia broke out. Within two days, the Red Army was wiped
out from Lithuania, After the Germans occupied Lithuania I asked
them for some kind of a job. So then they said, "Well," — they made
inquiries — they said, "You owned a farm?" I said yes, I did own a
farm, but it was nationalized.

They said, "You won't get back that farm, but you can go back to
your farm and start to work."


Mr. KeRsten. As I understand it, Mr. Dicmanas, you abandoned
your property there and you finally got out of Lithuania; is that

Mr. Dicmanas. Yes, in 1944.

Mr. Keksten. When the Keds were on their way in again you
didn't want another period under them ?

Mr. DicAMANAS. That is right.

Mr. Kersi'en. You finally got back to this country ; is that right ?

Mr. Dicmanas. Yes, and I am glad that I did.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you, Mr. Dicmanas.

We will adjourn until tomorrow morning at 10 :30.

(Wliereupon, at 4: 15 p. m., the committee adjourned, to reconvene
at 10: 30 a. m., Saturday, December 5, 1953.)

52975— 54— pt. 1 15



4 "' ■ House OF Representatives,

1 Baltic Committee,

< Washington, D. C.

Tlie committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 : 40 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, and

Also present : James J. McTigue, committee counsel.

Mr. Kersten. Tlie hearings Avill come to order.


Mr. Kersten. Mr. President, will you state your present address?

Mr. Hoover. I live at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Hoover, we are very thankful for you coming
here this morning. I believe you can contribute a great deal to these
hearings because of your personal knowledge of the three small Baltic

I will ask you, ]Mr. Hoover, whether or not you were associated with
the liberation of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia at the end of World
War I.

Mr. Hoover. Mr. Chairman, you remember that President Wilson
had announced the doctrine of self-determination, and at the end of
World War I, after the defeat and surrender of the Germans, these
three Baltic States, all of them, declared their independence from
Eussia and organized themselves as a constitutional government.

Their hold on political life was rather tenuous. All of them were
starving, but worse than that, they were invaded by the Communists,
each one of the groups, immediately after they had attempted their
own independence. They formed sort of ragged armies with such
arms as the Allies were able to furnish them and they did the astonish-
ing thing that in each of these cases they repelled the Communist
invasion eventually.

Their difficulties in Latvia were greater than the other two, but in
any event, they did manage to defend themselves.

My participation in it was directing the relief and rehabilitation,
but also I was assessed with the duty by the Allied Governments of
furthering their successful resistance, and we undertook various meas-
ures at that time in their help, entirely aside from relief.



The ultimate result was that in the spring of 1919 the Allied Gov-
ernments recognized their independence and they were able subse-
quently to make treaties with Russia by which their independence was

Some years ago I published a short account of those incidents in
1919 and I thought perhaps it might be of some interest. I don't
know that it is w^orthy of introducing into the record.

Mr. Kersten. I think at this point, or at any point in your testi-
mony, it should be introduced into the record and made a part of the

Mr. Hoover. It does indicate the nature of the service which we gave
and the amount of expenditure which was made at the cost of the
United States in establishing their independence.

There were some measures that are not mentioned here. For in-
stance, the American Navy occupied all of the Baltic ports.

Mr. Kersten. You were involved in that ?

Mr. Hoover. It was done at my request because I had a large staff
of Americans in that area and they were in considerable jeopardy all
the time. The Navy occupied the ports for their protection.

Mr. Kersten. You had a staff in these countries and they had to
be protected during this period ?

Mr. Hoover. That was the idea. Our staff at that time consisted
largely of American Army officers. You see, during the armistice
the Army had nothing to do and I borrowed some thousands of Ameri-
can Army officers from the Army to conduct our operations. Most of
them were temporary officers. Some of them are back in this country
and if you wanted to pursue the subject in more detail, you probably
could call some of them.

In any event, the presence of the American Navy and, subsequently,
the British Navy in those ports, undoubtedly had a considerable moral
effect on bringing about their independence.

There were some incidents which happened that were more political
than they are perhaps of direct interest. When the armistice was
made with the Germans it was provided that a General von der Goltz
in command of an army of Baits — the Baits were citizens of the Baltic
States — should remain in that area to preserve order. That army was
inactive until I was called on the authority of the Allied Governments
to take the city of Riga away from the Communists. That turned a
tide in the independence of Riga. So that what we were doing there
was more than food, we were trying to establish the independence of
those nations.

I might add, before I leave the subject, that I furnished an expert
staff on government, finance, and railways and various other technical
services to each of these governments as they were reestablished.

Mr. Kersten. And at or about the time of their independence, what
was their economic status at first?

Mr. Hoo\T3R. Oh, it was terrible. The people were starving, there
were probably 200,000 deaths in Riga alone from starvation. In any
event, the Americans had a large part in the establishment of the
independence of those three States.

During the years afterward I had many invitations to come to the
Baltic States, Poland and other countries. They wanted to express
some appreciation for our services, but I was busy with other things,


as you may know, and it was not until 1938 that I responded to those
invitations, 19 years after my previous experience.

I then visited Latvia and Estonia. I did not go to Lithuania, al-
though I made very considerable inquiries as to how they were getting

I was also interested in knowing what was going on in Russia be-
cause there was a constant migration back and forth, chiefly of skilled
mechanics from the Baltic States going into Russia for employment
in Russian industry. These people were coming back and they knew
all about the details of life in Russia. I interviewed a great number
of them and could give you something of the picture and contrast.

Mr. Kersten. We would like that picture.

Mr, Hoover. The problem you are working on bears directly in that

Russia at that time was drastically rationing all food and clothing.
They had an entirely unstable currency, if you could call it a currency
at ail. You know the course and nature of the Russian Government,
and the characteristics.

The Baltic States, in contrast, had a free economy. Their currency
was stable, their currencies were convertible into gold, they were ac-
cepted all over the world. Their fiscal policies were completely
successful; their budgets were all balanced, their industries were
thriving; their agriculture was making an astonishing progress.

The result was that the standard of living in the Baltic States was
about as high as any standard of living in Europe, possibly outside
of Switzerland and Norway.

Mr. Madden. Mr. President, what year was this?

Mr. HG0^'ER. This was 1938.

The contrast with Russia was so great that it became one of the
menaces of the Baltic States. The Russian people were constantly
attempting to escape from Russia into the Baltic States. The Rus-
sians had established a barbed- wire fence over some portion of that
border — I don't know how many miles — but in any event, they main-
tained a rigid picket line in order to repel their own people from
escaping into the more prosperous Baltic States to live.

The contrast was enormous and I should say that those three states
had made more progress from the very low beginnings they had had
19 years before, than probably had ever been made by any series of
states on record.

They had had good governments ; they had had magnificient leader-
ship. One of the interesting characters in this whole development
was a man named Ulmanis. Ulmanis was brought to this country
when he was 10 years old to live with an uncle in, I think, Nebraska.
He was educated in one of the Midwest universities; he taught
economics in the high schools. He left the United States to get his
mother before the First World War. He got caught in the melee and
had to serve through the Russian Army.

When he came out he became the leader of the Latvian Revolu-
tion and, as such, was practically the spiritual leader in all three coun-
tries. He established men in all of them because he was convinced
that he could not maintain the independence of Latvia unless it was
accompanied by the independence of Lithuania and Estonia.


Ulmanis was largely in the leadership up to the time that I returned
there 19 years later, in 1938, where I found him again the President
of Latvia and indeed proud of the success that they had made.

I have no data here as to the details of their economic situation.
I expect it is available to you as it stood at that time, but certainly
it represented an astonishing advance of a people.

I don't know whether you want to go on with the purely historic
phases of what happened to them after that.

Mr. Kersten, We would like to have anything you may wish to
comment on in that regard, ISIr. Hoover.

Mr. Hoover. The turning point in world history wa9 a guaranty by
the British and French of the independence of Poland. That started
a chain reaction which led to the Second World War. Evolving out
of that situation became an establishment of stealth and the Russians
in a position to bargain either with the British and French on one
side, or the Germans on the other. Stalin sat back and received bids
for his support.

If you will examine the history of the period you will find that one
of the things Stalin was demanding was the Balkanization of the
three Baltic States. In the end he made the well-known agreement
with Hitler in August 1939 by which he received that concession —
if you want to call it such.

The British and French had not been able to outbid Hitler for the
simple reason that they were people of political morals and they could
not justify giving away the independence of these three states. That
was the reason why the negotiations between Stalin and the western
democracies broke down.

Then you find, immediately after that agreement between Hitler
and Stalin in August of 1939, that the Russians moved on the three Bal-
tic States. The}^ first summoned representatives to come to Moscow
and they demanded of them that Russia should have the right of es-
tablishing airports and military posts in the three states. The people,
being helpless, finally had to accept.

The Fins, who received the same demands, refused and, as you know,
it led to a war with Finland and Russia. But these three states tried
to save as much as they could out of the situation by agreement, but im-
mediately after the Russians had established themselves in those stra-
tegic positions, they went step by step further until they had occupied
the complete country and started to communize it and you know the
history since.

That is as much as I have on my mind at the present moment. If
I can answer any questions for you, I would be delighted.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. President, you have made a great contribution

There is just one thing I would like to say at this time corroborating
what you said about Stalin being in a position of bargaining with one
or the other. I would like to show you a photostat of a map which
I don't think has ever been made public before, but which came from
the German Foreign Office.

It is a ma]> of Eastern Europe bearing the signatures of Stalin and
Ribbentrop, dated September 28, 1939. It indiactes that Stalin finally
made his bargain with the Nazis so he afiixed his signature, "Stalin,"
and the signature of Ribbentrop which, as you indicated, threw the
Baltic States into the realm of Stalin and also affected Poland.


That would tend to corroborate exactly what you have stated, Mr.

Mr. Hoover. That is very interesting. There is a little side issue to
this. Apparently in the original bargain the Germans were to have
part of Lithuania.

Mr. Kersten. That is right.

Mr. Hoover. And subsequently Stalin wanted it and he made a
settlement — I forget the date — by which he paid actual cash to the
Germans for that piece of Lithuania.

Mr. Kersten. That part of Lithuania apparently was purchased.

Mr. Hoover. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. As Mr. Machrowicz pointed out, Molotov was in-
volved in the same bargains for Stalin and I might say, Mr. Machro-
wicz, that he signed the agreement, the protocol, but the map itself was
signed by Stalin personally and initialed by him and Ribbentrop for
the Nazis.

Mr. Hoover. You want to bear in mind that it was Molotov who con-
conducted the negotiations with Ribbentrop in Moscow at that time.

Mr. Kersten. Yes.

Mr. Bonin, would you have any questions ?

Mr. BoNiN. I just want to compliment the President on his fine
statement and his contribution to these hearings.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Madden?

Mr. Madden. Mr. President, I want to endorse the remarks made
by the chairman and thank you for coming here today and giving us
the benefit of your wide personal experience, in regard to these three
countries, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

During the progress of these hearings we have heard startling tes-
timony, firsthand information, from various witnesses who were cap-
tured, taken as prisoners, relatives massacred and murdered. One
witness testified that he was placed in a cattle car with, I think, 40
others, women and children, and on this same train there were 70
cars — cattle cars — with people being transferred into Siberia.

Of course, that is merely one of hundreds and hundreds of incidents
of brutality and massacre and murder which not only includes these
three countries, but Poland and other subjugated countries which
come under the heel of the Communist tyrant.

Considering your vast experience through World "War I, and World
War II and your knowledge of what has taken place over there, would
you care to comment, or would you have any personal opinion as to
what you might think would be the solution or be the ultimate out-
come of what is going to happen in the future, what course these
countries can take or whether they are absolutely helpless, or what in
your opinion the future holds forth for these Baltic countries ?

Mr. Hoover. I don't know; that is a very difficult subject. You
have only a certain historic background to cling to. These races in the
Baltic States, for instance, represented some ancient migration of
peoples who were not Slavs. They were more akin to the Hungarians
than they were to the Slavs. During all of these thousands of years
they had periodically attained their independence and they had con-
stantly maintained their fundamental racial institutions; their lan-
guage', their literature, even under the most tremendous oppressions.
When these three States came out from under the Russians in 1919 they


had a flowering literature, they had great vitality in all of their racial

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 27 of 75)