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

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Now, I have the belief that you cannot stamp that out of a people ;
you can't stamp it out of the Poles, you can't stamp it out of the
Czechs, nor the Baltic peoples.

The only hope I can see is that some day, in some world cataclysm,
those people can rise again as they did in 1919,. That is the only solu-
tion I can see at the moment and it is the main hope.

I might add, on the outrages, that I had occasion to go to Eastern
Europe on missions for our Government in 1946 and 1947 in Poland
and Finland. I did not get into the Baltic States; the Russians
wouldn't allow me to. I did get to Poland and Czechoslovakia, and
so forth. In all of those cities there were refugees from the Baltic
States. A great many of them came to me to tell me what had hap-
pened after the Russian occupation.

I have no memory as to the details of these heartbreaking stories ;
there were so many of them one couldn't remember. But in any event,
they were ample testimony as to the terribleness of the Russian regime.
I was told by great numbers of them scattered all the way from Hel-
sinki clear down to Budapest that the Russians had undertaken a
systematic migration of the peoples out of the Baltic States into some-
place in Siberia, not slave camps, but resettlements, and the movement
of Russians into the Baltic States with the intention of finally Russify-
ing that area. They are trying to extinguish the racial spark that
might still be alive in those peoples.

Mr. Madden. That is all.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Machrowicz?

Mr. JVIacheowicz. Mr. President, I want to join my colleagues in
thanking you for the contribution you have made and expressing my
personal happiness for your presence, because as I have explained to
you briefl}^, it was my great privilege to work with you in those years
of 1919 and 1920 as a member of the Technical Advisory Commission
of the United States Government to Poland. I think I have had some
personal experiences which prove to me that had it not been for the
great help furnished by you and through your Commission, those gov-
ernments would never have had an opportunity to survive because
of the terrible conditions under which they were created.

I also want to comment on the answers to the questions of Con-
gressman Madden. Isn't it true that there is a fiction maintained in
this country that Russia is a monolithic nation, a fiction which is abso-
lutely untrue, that probably nearly two-thirds of the Russian Empire
are peoples who are not Russians ?

Mr. Hoo\rER. I should think, fully. I counted up the races at one
time. I think there are 36 now in the Russian complex.

Mr. Machrowicz. And I think the American people don't fully
realize that.

You were also in Eastern Europe in 1945, 1 believe ?

Mr. Hoover. 1946, 1947.

Mr. Machrowicz. You didn't get into the Baltic nations then, of
course ?

Mr. Hoover. I went to Finland. The Baltic States had been an-
nexed at that time and I was not able to go in that area. The Com-
munists had retained a dislike for me ever since tlie First World War.

Mr. Machrowicz. You did get into eastern Poland ?



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 221

Mr. Hoover. Yes.

Mr. Machrowicz. Would you care to comment as to what you saw,
as to any change in the conditions from the time that you had visited
that section of the country hist ?

Mr. Hoover. That is in PoL^nd ?

Mr. Machrowicz. In Poh\nd or anywhere in Eastern Europe.

Mr, Hoover. Pohand at that time was under a so-called provisional
government of about 15 Ministers, of which I think 13 were either
Communists or extreme leftwing Socialists. The President of Poland
was an avowed Communist who had been raised and trained in Russia.

The Russian secret police dominated Poland at that time. There
were concentration camps reported to me by the American Ambassa-
dor as having fully 200,000 Poles in them and great numbers of Poles
had been taken out and sent to Siberia. This was in 1946. There ob-
viously was no possibility of establishing anything in the nature of the
government that had been portrayed at Yalta. Already the Commu-
nists had taken full possession.

There were 2 independent men in the Polish Ministry at that time,
Mikolajczyk and 1 other, both of whom had to escape from Poland to
save their lives.

In 1946 Poland was again in dire straits. The people again were
starving, the industries were closed and there seemed to be little hope
of industrial revival under the Russians. I doubt whether Poland
has made any great recovery since. There is some nominal improve-
ment.

Mr. Machrowicz. You have also testified that in Europe all these
peoples — the Latvians, the Estonians, the Lithuanians, the Poles, the
Czechs and others — have a hope for a restoration of their freedom
through some cataclysm in the future.

Mr. Hoover. All of those who still hope for freedom in this world
have their minds placed on the fact that someday there may be some
great convulsion out of which they can emerge.

Mr. Machrowicz. That leads me to another question, Mr. Presi-
dent. Do you personally see any hope for the restoration of liberty
and freedom to those nations by agreements or treaties with these
present Soviet leaders?

Mr. Hoo^-ER. I had to deal with the Communist movement beginning
in 1918. I was delegated by the Allied Governments to look after 12
Communist revolutions in Western Europe. I naturally was inter-
ested in the Communist movement per se. From that time on I
became quite an earnest student of the whole of Communist literature
and Communist processes as applied to international life.

No one can read the directions and speeches of Lenin and Stalin
and Molotov and ever believe that agreement with Russia has more
than purely temporary value.

There are occasions when I think agreements could be made which
would be to their interest or to the mutual interest, but those are
pretty rare occasions. Such agreements would last only just so long
as it suited the Russians.

You have to bear in mind that during the interval between the First
World War and the Second World War, it suited the Russians to
have a peaceful front. During that time they made 36 different non-
aggression pacts or treaties guaranteeing nonaggression activities.



222 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Every one of those went by the board the day they made the agree-
ment with Hitler in August 1939.

That ought to indicate the sacredness of an agreement in the mind
of the Kussian when it doesn't suit him.

Mr. Machrowicz. I am in full agreement with you, Mr. President.
I believe most of the members — if not all of the members — of the
committee, are in full agreement with you.

Just one other question : Do you feel, Mr. President, that the resto-
ration of freedom and liberty to these nations — the Baltic States and
Poland and the other countries behind the Iron Curtain — is or is not
conducive to worldwide peace?

Mr. Hoover. Oh, of course I am one of the believers in the fact that
the only hope of w^orldwide peace is in the growth of government
among peoples.

Mr. Machrowicz. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kersten. In fact, any agreement which would permit the
Communists to further communize these captive nations would merely
lead to the threat of universal war; would it not, Mr. President?

Mr. Hoo\^R. I wouldn't put it that hard because they may have a
long period here when they would like to consolidate their position.
It would be difficult to fix the time.

Mr. Kersten. We would like to have your statement as part of the
record if we may. It will be marked as an exhibit.

(The article was marked "Exhibit 9.^' See p. 577.)

Mr. Kersten. Mr. President, we are very grateful for your appear-
ance here this morninof. You have made a o-reat contribution and we
certainly hope that the work which you helped to start m 1919, the
self-determination of these nations, will again prove the basis for their
ultimate freedom.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. Kersten. We will take a recess for a few minutes.

(The committee then recessed briefly.)

Mr. I^rsten. The hearings will please come to order.

Reverend Kiviranna.

STATEMENT OF PASTOR RUDOLF KIVIRANNA, FORMER PASTOR
OF ST. JOHN'S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, TALLINN,
ESTONIA

Mr. Kersten. Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth^
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Mr. Kiviranna. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kersten. Will you identify yourself, please. Pastor Kiviranna?

Mr. Kiviranna. I am Pastor Rudolf Kiviranna. I am pastor of
the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church of New York.

As a Lutheran minister I experienced the tragedy of the Estonian
nation and th& Estonian church in the time of first Communist occupa-
tion of Estonia. I was at that time pastor of the St. John's Lutheran
Church in Tallinn, capital of Estonia, a congregation with a member-
ship of 11,000. That was one of the largest congregations in Estonia.
Mostly the members belonged to the factory workers, so I had the
opportunity in a relatively large part of the population to experience
what happened when the power was taken over by the Communists.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 223

Mr. McTiGUE, You were pastor of St. John's Evangelical Lutheraji
Church in Tallinn with a congregation of approximately 11,000 meni-
bere at the time the Communists occupied Estonia?

Mr. KiviRANNA. Yes, that is correct.

Mr. McTiGUE. And when was that. Pastor?

Mr, KiviRANNA. I was elected to that congregation in 1940, and I
very vividly remember the day in June of 1940 when the Red army
marched into Tallinn. I was coming from a pastoral call, and so I
had the possibility, standing in the crowd, to experience what kind of
effect the marching in of the Red army had on the Estonian population.

Nobody knew what would happen, but an unconscious feeling that
something terrible was going to happen was in the souls of the Es-
tonians. We had lived as neighbors with Soviet Russia, but I can tes-
tify to the committee that we didn't have very much reliable
information on what communism really is and really means.

We had seen persons who succeeded in spite of the Iron Curtain,
wdiich was already at that time in existence, in escaping from Soviet
Russia and they had told their stories, but we were unable to believe
that reality. Communist reality, could be so terrible.

Only at first hand, "experiencing the terrible losses and sufferings,
did we see the real face of communism.

Mr. McTiGUE. When the Communists occupied Estonia, what was
the effect of the occupation on you and your congregation? Before
answering that, Pastor Kiviranna, what is the predominant religion
in Estonia ?

Mr. KiviRANNA. Estonia, since the time of the Reformation in
Europe, is a Lutheran country. So the national church is the Lu-
theran Church, and 79 percent of the population are members of the
Lutheran Church.

In answ^er to your question I would briefly characterize the in-
fluence, the general influence which the Communist occupation had on
Estonia.

The first thing in the Communist machinery and system was the
breaking of the political and national resistance of Estonia. It was
done in the way that a very large percentage of the national leader-
ship in the field of state, politics, press, radio, and other fields were
arrested, and we do not have any information about the fate of the
vast majority of those people.

The Communist aim was, through arrests, to take away the national
leadership in the hope that if the national political resistance is liqui-
dated it will be easier to influence the masses of the nation.

The second strategic step was to break the economic resistance of
the nation. The Communists who first came to Estonia were mostly
military personnel, and they were followed by the families and per-
sons who belonged to the civilian Soviet personnel. We were as-
tonished about the very low economic standard, their clothes.

In turn they also were very astonished and it was difficult for them
to believe that Estonia, a small country, had such a high economic
standard.

It is quite understandable that to the Communist method of liqui-
dating the life of free nations belongs very cardinally the breaking of
economic resistance. It was done in the way of so-called nationaliza-
tion. That means that the property of corporations, of private per-
sons, or of churches is taken without any remuneration.



224 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

For example, a man owns a small workshop. He has also debts.
The workshop belongs to the state after the nationalization, but if you
have any debts on your enterprise, those are your personal responsi-
bility.

So in breaking the economic resistance it was not only a question
of taking away the factories, large businesses, but went to every
private home of the civilian population. Many members of my con-
gregation were employed by the Estonian Kailways, and they had
small one-family homes in a suburb near Tallinn. Those private
homes were considered too large by the Communists ; they were con-
sidered as belonging to the capitalist form of living.

Those homes were taken away from the people, the owner was
driven out, and he had to take either a room in the basement or he was
driven out altogether. The same thing happened to private cars.

This breaking of national resistance was also carried on in the field
of the churches. All church property was confiscated by the state.
In my case in Tallinn we had a parish house which had also the apart-
ments for the clergy. From my apartment all the rooms except one,
the smallest, was taken away. Part of the apartment was given to
persons from the Red army. People were placed in other parts.
For me only one room was left, the smallest.

I approached the Communist authorities and I asked, "I am a
pastor. That room is enough that I covdd live and eat in this room,
but people are coming to me to talk with me as their pastor." They
said, "It is better that you do not make any application, official
application, of getting one room more or you will be considered under
the new regime as an enemy of the nation and as an enemy of the
Soviet Union."

The third method in the strategy of breaking and liquidating free
life was done through the efforts to break the moral resistance of the
nation. Maybe they had been too long in power in Soviet Russia;
they didn't consider very important the fact that it is not easy to take
over the power in a small democratic nation through violation of all
rights, through brutal liquidation of national life, and keep up that
power through terror.

They didn't understand that it is very difficult to break the moral
resistance. They were very well aware that the main moral resistance
is in the Christian churches. I should like to emphasize that com-
munism is not directed against Christianity only. The Communist
attitude is radically anti-Christian, but it is also radically against any
form of religion. Of course, in a nation as Estonia, a Protestant
Lutheran nation, the main aim was to liquidate the greatest church.

I should like to characterize briefly some of the methods which were
used to break the moral resistance. We had, as in any free country,
the opportunity of proclaiming the gospel and training the children.
We had an excellent old institution at the Tartu University for train-
ing the clergy. Some weeks after the power was taken over by the
Soviets they immediately started, through rules and regulations and
through the directives given by the ]5uppet government and by the
Communist Party to undermine the religious life.

We consider it in all free Christian countries as basic for the
religion and for the freedom of conscience that children might be
trained by the church and in the homes. We heard very soon and
we were told very strictly that it is against the Soviet law, it is against



^ BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 225

some paragraphs in the Soviet criminal code to train children in the
church or in private homes or any place to give them religious
training.

It was not understandable to us, used to democratic form of living,
that it is a crime in the constitution of any state — for a constitution
is supposed to contain all these basic liberties d'^chired as in other
constitutions in the Western World— to teach children in religion.

However, all Christian organizations of any type, for any purpose,
including the Christian charity organizations, were liquidated and
prohibited from teaching religion in the schools. Also the theological
school at the Tartu University was closed and we had no ways and
means to train the clergy.

The economic life of the congregations was supported by small
voluntary contributions. All contributions or subscriptions were
prohibited. The whole church life was made possible on the basis
of tlie voluntary contributions given in the plate offering in the
church.

To make hindrances to the work of the church which was left to
us there were issued regulations that if electric current was used for
religious purposes or in church, you had to pay 14 times more than
in a private home. Gentlemen, you can understand the aim of this
type of regulation.

For that small room where I lived and worked I had to pay many
times more for the very reason that I was considered by the foreign
occupants as an enemy of the nation, of the Soviets.

As they very many times have emphasized in the Soviet press, the
Soviet press has dealt with the question of the church and called it a
capitalistic enterprise, the enemy of the nation, and also we were
many times attacked in the press as secret collaborators with foreign
powers, and it was meant America and England.

We were cut from all contacts with the free world. So we had
to appeal to the moral strength, using the force and the power of the
Christian religion in order to survive.

The most difficult time to Estonia and to the Estonian church came
in the last weeks before war broke out between the two dictators.
They had made plans, they had said that the Baltic States will belong
to the Soviet sphere of influence. But, no, the situation had radically
changed, and at that time in addition to the great number of arrests
we had to experience the terrible night of deportation. I escaped
deportation through the help of the president of my church who was
a simple man, who was courageous to remain on his position.

He came in the dead of night and said, ''Something terrible is hap-
pening in Tallinn. The Russians are arresting not only individuals
but whole families. There are cattle vans in the railway station to
transport the unhappy victims to Soviet Russia." So I left my apart-
ment immediately in the dead of night.

I saw those trucks going in the direction of the railroad station
with the arrested Estonians — men, women, small children from all
classes, from all walks of life. I succeeded in surviving, hiding my-
self about one month and a half. In 1944 in September, 2 hours be-
fore tlie Russians again marched into Tallinn, I had the opportunity
through God's grace to escape with my two small children and my
wife — my girl was 11 months old at that time — crossing the sea to
Sweden in a small duck boat.



226 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

And in Sweden we started to inform the free world about the ex-
periences of the first victims of the Red aggression in Europe. We
worked very hard to find believers and understanding hearts.

Mr. Kersten. Right at that point, Pastor, I think there are still
some people who are unbelieving as to wdiat the Communists really
are • isn't that true ?

Mr. KiviRANNA. In 1948, Mr. Chairman, I came to the United
States of ximerica, called by the New York Lutheran Church. I
started, with my poor English, and I went to Detroit, Chicago,
Washington, other places in the Nation telling the very simple story
of a pastor who lived and worked behind the Iron Curtain. And I
found at that time that many didn't believe.

I told them also that we, as neighbors of Soviet Russia, found it
hard to believe, but I have come to give testimony and to tell the story
very simply, the fact that the American Nation upon which the eyes
of hundreds of millions of victims are placed, people in the occupied
countries, and also, I think, many of those who are in Russia proper,
that America has the Avorld leadership and must recognize the danger
and be prepared to face the situation.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Bentley.

Mr. Bentley. Pastor, you have given us a very dramatic and mov-
ing statement. I have 1 or 2 questions I want to ask you dealing more
with your personal experiences.

During the time the Soviets were in occupation of Estonia, from
1940 to 1941, the first period of occupation, was your church kept open
during that time?

Mr. KiviRANNA. The Soviet authorities gave for the church only
one opportunity to continue the work, and that w^as to have divine
services in the church proper. So in spite of the economic difficulties
we had to face, w^e had the support of those men and women who were
maybe considered by the Communists as persons with whom they could
collaborate.

They were factory workers mostly, but they understood the situation
and they very freely supported the church, and the attendance of the
services was rising. As the tide of suffering of the people was rising,
the attendance and the freewdll contributions arose. So we were able
to pay for those expenses and to keep the church doors open.

After the war broke out we had in that church two congregations,
and my colleague who was present in Tallinn, Alexander Tahevali, and
myself hid ourselves one night in this place in the suburbs. We
couldn't get out from Tallinn, so we were hiding one night here and
the other night there. He is at present in Stockholm, Sweden.

Mr. Beni-ley. But apart from holding divine services, you were
forbidden to have any other work in the church ? For example, you
said the religious education of the children was forbidden.

Mr. KiviRANNA. Yes, that was against the Soviet Criminal Code.
Mr. Bentley. Can you cite this committee the exact part of the
Soviet Criminal Code that malces that prohibition?

Mr. KiviRANNA. As I recall, it is in the Soviet Criminal Code under
203.

Mr. Bentley. Article 203?

Mr. KiviiuNNA. Article 203 which, in plain words, forbids the
religious training of children.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 227

Also as an example, we couldn't carry on other activities such as
joung peoples' work, we couldn't have any services transmitted
through the radio, we couldn't read, or print, one word in the press.

The religous books, bibles, hymn books, they were confiscated and
destroyed. You can understand w^hat kind of future is left in those
conditions for the church.

Mr. Bentley. Now, apart from the interference with your church
work, were you personally interfered with at any time during the
Soviet occupation ?

Mr. Kr^iranna. I was told by the members of my congregation that
they noticed that young men and women were sent by the NKVD, by
the Soviet Secret Police, and were taking down parts of my sermons.
But they didn't have any idea about Christianity and the Christian
religion, and if they were listening to my sermons they were unable
to really understand the meaning, and if they went to the secret police,
they were unable to tell in plain facts what the pastor was saying.

But the selection of the text, the selection of the hymns and so on, it
was understandable to those who were members and religious people ;
they could understand why that song was sung that Sunday.

Mr. Bentley. Pastor, to the best of your knowledge, were there any
of your colleagues, were there any ministers of the Lutheran faith in
Estonia who gave you the appearance of collaborating with the Com-
munists, going along with them?

Mr. KiviRANNA. I know some cases, in the large number of the
clergy, in which I think the fear of persecution and the fear of terror
was the reason that they resigned. I know two cases. I know cases
in which they were called to the secret police, they have later told me,
and they have confidentially said it to the archbishop at the very time
they were called in, that they were taken to the secret police and they
were pressed with threats, that they have so many contacts with the
people, people are coming to them, and they should report to the
secret police about their experiences.

They tried to find persons who would give them valuable informa-
tion, but the pastors were intelligent enough that all they told was of
no value, knowing that they could not be forced to tell, at least if they
were not tortured, things that they would like to hear.



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 28 of 75)