United States. Congress. House. Select committee o.

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

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Mr. Bentley. One more question. From what information you
may have received, what could you tell us about the religious situation
in Estonia as of today ?

Mr. KiviRANNA. The Estonian Church in the beginning of the sec-
ond occupation was left in a very difficult position. Those men who
survived the first Communist occupation, who had difficulties also in
the time of the Nazi's occupation, those men were given by the church
the freedom to stay or to flee to the free world.

So our archbishop. Dr. Kopp, and a large number of the clergy of
the Estonian Lutheran Church, of the Orthodox Church, of the Bap-
tists and other denominations, they preferred to escape. One of the
main reasons was also to have the opportunity to go to the west and to
tell the tragic story of the first victims of the Communists in Europe.

Many of the clergymen succeeded to escape, but many of them
perished on the way to Sweden ; many of the ships were attacked by
the Soviet airplanes. A small number of the clergy remained.

On the basis of indirect information — we have no direct informa-
tion — we have the following picture, that the persecution of the church



228 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

is continuing. Those few men who are left are under a very hard
pressure. The Soviets are using in the large extension, in that long
period of time that they have had now, hard means to force them into
some kind of cooperation.

I know most of those men. I know my nation and my church. I
think all those pressures will not reallj^ be successful in winning among
those occupied nations real collaboration in the church.

They have succeeded, unfortunately, I am sorry to say, in finding
cooperation in Russia proper. We have the case of a man, very high
orthodox representative, whose name is Sergius. He was sent as the
representative of the Patriarch of Moscow to the Baltic States. And
the metropolitan of the Estonian Orthodox Church who recently
passed away. Metropolitan Alexander, testified that his and the honest
opinion of the other members of the high clergy in the Orthodox
Church was that Sergius, that the bishop sent from Moscow, was only
a Soviet spy.

I have informed, I think in 1947, the Federation of Churches, with
headquarters in Geneva, about that incident.

Mr. Bentley. Thank you very much. Pastor.

Mr. Kerstej^^. Mr. Madden.

Mr. Madden. No questions.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Bonin.

Mr. BoNiN. Pastor, is this the first time that you have had the
opportunity to tell your story to an official committee of the Gov-
ernment ?

Mr. KiviRANNA. Yes. I had the opportunity to be invited by church
groups, in Detroit, Chicago, Washington, mostly large conventions
or special meetings that I w^ould testify and that I would tell my story
as a Christian minister behind the Iron Curtain. I have participated
in some conferences in which Mr. Chairman and other members have
been present, but not before any official committee; I have not had
the pleasure of meeting any official committee of the Government
before.

Mr. BoNiN. I think it is splendid on your part to come before this
committee and tell us this very illuminating story of what the Com-
munist threat is to the free and independent world.

Mr. Kersten. Mr, Machrowicz.

Mr. Machrowicz. Just one question. Could you tell us, in view of
this persecution of the church in all these acts that you have described,
what the attitude of the general public was? Did it diminish their
faith, did it diminish their participation in the activities of the church
to any great extent ?

Mr. Kivaranna. We had a very strong fear in the beginning that
under such totalitarian terror the people will become afraid to come to
church and participate in church activities. We could baptize chil-
dren and we could have a Christian burial, and so on. We could have
those things which M^ere considered by the Communists as the culture
of the church.

We were very much encouraged by the general reaction. You can
imagine if the free press is taken away, the free radio is not in exist-
ence, books which are published are mostly Communist propoganda,
then people believe that there is only one way left and that's the way
in that direction.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 229

Mr. Machkowicz. You say "in that direction," and you are pointing
upward. May the record show that.

Mr. KiviRANNA. Yes, I am pointing upward.

So tlie number of attendants in all churches all over the country was
rising numerically.

I recall also that persons came as family units to the holy commu-
nion, and as they came to me to register for the holy communion in
the sacristy, they told me, "Pastor, maybe that is the last time we are
together."

So, the fear of being arrested or sent to a concentration camp was
so strong that they considered every Sunday as maybe the last oppor-
tunity to hear the word of God and to participate in holy communion.
So the general reaction in the soul of the Estonian nation was en-
tirely and radically different from that which was expected by the
Soviets.

Mr. Machrowicz. In other words, they did not succeed in discour-
aging the general public from participating in the church affairs ?

Mr. KiviRANNA. Tiiat is right. As I mentioned, I lived among the
factory workers, and I could see what kind of reaction that had.

They do not succeed to break the moral resistance in the occupied
countries, with one exception. I would like to emphasize that very
strongly. If the period of the Red terror and occupation is too long,
they will train a new generation, and I cannot see any future for the
whole free world in that case in which new generations are trained in
all those occupied countries.

So I think w^e have a limit of time; the time is very limited.

Mr. Machrowicz. You feel the time is on the side of the Russians?

Mr. KiviRANNA, The time is working on their side.

Mr. Machrowicz. That is all.

Mr. Kersten. Pastor, I want to compliment you for your magnifi-
cent statement. You have very clearly told us as to what coinmunism
has meant to Estonia insofar as the spiritual values are concerned.
You have mentioned the matter of time, and I think it is very signifi-
cant, namely that the free world cannot permit indefinitely to see the
good people liquidated and destroyed, giving the Communists the
opportunity to raise a new generation who are indoctrinated from
infancy only with communism.

Would you not agree with me that whereas now the vast majority
of the people that are thus enslaved are really the enemies of the
regime, unless we in every practical way help them as we can, that
when this new generation is raised up who will know nothing of any-
thing else other than communism, they and the millions of them, the
hundreds of millions of them will be willing to fight the West, and
that is a situation that we want to avoid.

Would you agree with me on that ?

Mr. KiviRANNA. I fully agree, Mr. Chairman, and I have the con-
viction that it has tragic consequences. We are living in a tragic
world situation, but we cannot afford any more tragic mistakes. I
consider the activity of this committee as a valuable encouragement,
moral encouragement to those Baltic and other nations behind the
Iron Curtain.

They are very careful to watch the steps of the West. The words
which are spoken here, especially in America, and the moral encour-

52975— 54— pt. 1 16



230 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

agement we are able to give in this situation will help to create a bet-
ter, a free world.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you.

STATEMENT OF BISHOP VINCENTAS BRIZGYS, FORMER BISHOP OF
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, KAUNAS

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

Bishop Brizgys. I do.

Mr. Kersten. Will you give us your full name, Bishop ?

Bishop Brizgys. Vincentas Brizgys.

Mr. Kersten. You were and are the bishop of Kaunas ?

Bishop Brizgys. Roman Catholic bishop of Kaunas.

Mr. Kersten. You were consecrated a bishop when ?

Bishop Brizgys. On May 19, 1940.

Mr. Kersten. And you received your religious training for the
priesthood during what period?

Bishop Brizgys. In 1920-27. Then I spent 5 years at the Gregoria-
num College in Rome.

Mr. Kersten. And you presently are the guest of Cardinal Stritch,
the Archbishop of Chicago?

Bishop Brizgys. That is right.

Mr. Kersten. What is your address in Chicago?

Bishop Brizgys. My address in Chicago is 6727 South California
Avenue, Chicago.

Mr. Kersten. Is that in connection with the big, beautiful new high
school, Lithuanian high school?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes, my apartment is in this new building.

Mr. Kersten. Lithtiania is largely Roman Catholic, isn't it?

Bishop Brizgys. Before this second war, Lithuania was 87 percent
Catholic.

Mr. Kersten. As the pastor who just preceded you stated, Estonia
was largely Lutheran, and Lithuania is largely Catholic ?

Bishop JBrizgys. Roman Catholic ; yes.

Mr. Kersten. Bishop, you have a statement, have you ?

Bishop Brizgys. Well, Mr. Chairman, I prepared one statement but
concerning religion and the church only. In my statement that I have
before me, I have nothing about economics, cultural, or political ques-
tions. I am ready to answer anything you ask.

Mr. Kersten. Just a preliminary question. During the first year
of Communist occupation, from June of 1940 until June of 1941, you
at that time were auxiliai*y bishop of Kaunas, were you not?

Bishop Brizgys. That is right.

Mr. Kersten. And as such in touch with all religious affairs of that
diocese, is that correct?

Bishop Brizgys. That is right.

Mr. Kersten. How large was that diocese ?

Bishop Brizgys. We had in this diocese over 500,000 Catholics.

Mr. Kersten. And that included the capital city of Kaunas?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And the area surrounding it also.

Bishop Brizgys. The area was from the River Nemunas to the Lat-
vian border.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 231

Mr. Kersten. Would you make such statement with regard to the
effect of the Communist occupation upon religion as you care to make
or any comments or observations that you would like to make, Your
Excellency ?

Bishop Brizgys. Well, Mr. Chairman and Congressmen, my state-
ment does not concern either the Russian nation or the Russian army.
It does concern the activities of Russian Communists and Communist-
institutions in Lithuania under the occupation of the Soviet Army.

I wish to make this difference quite clear, because the Russian people
are suffering for religion the same as other enslaved nations and are ex-
pecting the collapse of Communist tyranny. One of the primary pur-
poses of Moscow is to combat religion. And for this purpose Moscow
has a minutely elaborated system.

On January 14, 1941, I was summoned by Moscow's plenipoten-
tiary, Pozdniakov, to renounce my efforts to have a priests' seminary in
Lithuania because very soon the Catholic Church would be abolished
in Lithuania, according to Pozdniakov's statement to me— -"with all
its power and all its experience, Moscow will combat religion every-
where." Moscow was quite sure that the free world will not concern
itself over its abolishment.

For many reasons Moscow attacked the Catholic Church in Lithu-
ania most harshly. A chronology of facts shows how quickly Moscow
began to attack the Catholic Church in Lithuania.

The Russian Army occupied Lithuania on June 15, 1940. Ten days
later, June 15, the Concordat was abrogated. The Papal Nuncio re-
ceived an order to leave the country by August 25. Chaplains from
army hospitals, schools, prisons were dismissed July 2.

During the next 2 weeks all private hospitals, schools, kindergar-
tens, all charity institutions, orphanages, old people's homes were ex-
propriated. All the property of these institutions was confiscated.

All leading personnel of organizations were arrested the night of
July 12, 1940. Begiiming that night, one by one disappeared the
more or less active members of Catholic and patriotic societies. Some
were shot in torture chambers, while others were sent to concentration
camps in Russia.

All Catholic newspapers and magazines were suppressed during the
first weeks of occupation. Efforts to have at least one catechism or
prayerbook were futile. Without any compensation all printing es-
tablishments were taken over.

Subsequent decrees required the collection of books of religious li-
brary of tlie Marian Fathers at Marianapoles was loaded in trucks and
taken outside of the town and burned.

All priests' seminaries were seized during the first days of the occu-
pation. After very long and difficult efforts 1 seminary was allowed
iFor the 5 dioceses in Kaunas, which after 4 months, however, exactly
January 13, 1941, were closed. The students and professors were ex-
pelled within 12 hours.

All monasteries were also closed during the first months of the Com-
munist regime. All property and deposits in banks were also seized.

With few exceptions, the rectories of the churches were taken over
for various fictional purposes of the Communist Party. I say fictional
purposes, because the Communist Party had members in only a small
number of towns.



232 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

All bishops and chancery office staffs were banned from their resi-
dences. Among the last to be expelled from their residences were the
Archbishop of Kannas and his auxiliary bishop. This was December
8, 1940. This was only 6 months after the occupation.

The Connnunist government did not assign one single new residence
to an expelled bishop or priest. It was most difficult for the clergy
to find a room anywhere because all houses were nationalized.

Mr. Kersten. You were virtually put on the streets, were you not ?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes. And furthermore we were ordered to leave
our apartments without knowing where we would go now.

Bishop Kukta of Kaisiadorys and Bishop Staugaitis of Telsiai were
repeatedly evicted from rooms which had been given to them by pri-
vate persons.

All this and more was accomplished by the Communists in 5 months.

During independent Lithuania prayers were usually said before and
after school sessions. In the beginning of the school year 1940 this
was forbidden.

After 4 months, in October 1940, the Communist government began
a very strong movement against the observance of Christian holi-
days — Sundays, Christmas, Easter, and so on. The observance of the
Sabbath and Christmas was attacked not only by the press but by the
commissars — now occupying the rank of ministers — and the President
was sent by the Russians to factories for meetings to agitate the work-
ers against the observance of Christian holy days. But the outcome
of the meetings was most unexj^ected. Instead of accepting the pro-
posed resolutions, the workers expelled not only the commissars from
the factories but President Paleckis himself.

Nevertheless a decree introduced an obligatory Sunday workday
in factories, offices and in schools. I personally know many cases
where schoolchildren, workers, and officials were summoned, intimi-
dated, arrested for assisting at Sunday mass.

Finally, on April 25, 1941, a sector order was released to call in
person every clergyman and to intimate to him that the teaching of
religion to children in churches and elsewhere is absolutely forbidden.

If you will allow, Mr. Chairman, I have here the translation from
the Lithuanian text of this secret order.

Mr. Kersten. Now, Your Excellency, with regard to this secret
order, will you briefly describe the circumstances under which you
Avere able to get and make a copy of it? As I understand it, this is
an order of the Communists that was meant not to be published or
to be known.

Bishop Brizgys. That is right.

Mr. Kersit.n. And do I understand you correctly that you saw the
original of this secret order with regard to religion '(

Bishop Brizgys. Yes, I had the original of the document, official
document.

Mr. Kersten. Where was it that you saw the original ?

Bishop Brizgys. This document that I have the translation before
me I saw in my room, in my private room, and it was foi'warded to
me by an official of the same office where this order was released.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 233

Mr. Kersten. As I understand it, he was not supposed to show
that to you.

Bishop Brizgts. He was not supposed to, but you would remember,
as Pastor Kiviranna of Estonia said, in those countries like the Baltic
countries, Poland and so on, I don't know how many real Communists
are over there. You will remember the facts today of how many
police are fleeing from East Germany to West Germany, even of the
police.

The same was in the Baltic countries among the police officials,
among the officials in government institutions, and so on. Kussia
has not so many real Communists.

Mr. Kersten. They couldn't trust everybody to be absolutely re-
liable, is that right ?

Bishop Brizgys. They can't.

Mr. Kersten. Was it a high Communist official or some Communist
official ?

Bishop Brizgys. I think they did not belong to the party, but I am
not sure about this.

Mr. Kersten. At any rate, did he bring you the original order to
your residence ?

Bishop Brizgys. He brought to me the original of this document to
show and to present me as the bishop of what is prepared for the
church and for religion.

Mr. Kersten. Did you make a copy of it?

Bishop Brizgys. I made myself a copy.

Mr. Kersten. That which you have here this morning is a true
copy ?

Bishop Brizgys. This copy in Lithuanian is the true copy made by
myself, and the translation in English is made in Chicago from this
Lithuanian text.

Mr. Kersten, And the translation into English, therefore, is also
a true translation and therefore a true copy of the translated text of
the original document ; is that correct ?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes, that is correct.

I would remember one circumstance, that we Lithuanians are in
possession of more secret documents concerning religion and depor-
tations. This is the method of Lithuanian Partisans. On the first
day of the war they seized approximately all of the records of the
Communist Party in Lithuania, and so we were in possession of im-
portant papers that were prepared for the Lithuanian nation and for
the church, and so forth.

Mr. Kjersten. The Lithuanian Partisans or underground were able
to seize many of these original Russian or Communist documents ; is
that right?

Bishop Brizgys. In such cities like Kaunas and Marianapoles all
archives were seized by the Partisans. Nothing was deported to Rus-
sia of those documents.

Mr. Kersten. Would you give us, therefore, the English transla-
tion of this one? I am referring to the secret order for religion in
Lithuania.



234 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

(Bishop Brizgys then read as follows:)

[Secret — Personal]
No. 8

Lithuanian Socialist Soviet Republic,
Executive Committee of the County of Kaunas,

Kaunas, April 25, 1941.

To the chairman of all executive cmnmittees of all townships in the county of
Kaunas and of the town of Jonava.

I request that immediately upon receiving this statement you invite all the
clergy (priests, ministers, rabbis, etc.) in the tovFuship assigned to your super-
vision and announce to them the stringent prohibition of teaching religion to the
children, at the same time collecting their signatures on the enclosed forms.
Before getting their signatures, the clergyman's name, surname, and address
should be vpritten on each form.

Also, I request that you invite each clergyman separately or visit each at
his home. This letter should not be shown to the clergyman.

The signed forms must be sent to me by secret personal letter by the 10th
day of May. At the same time this letter and all unused forms must be returned.

Since this matter is completely secret, I request you also to keep strict secrecy
and not to speak of or show any one else this matter. It is not necessary to>
register your document, so I ask you not to show it even to the secretary.

( Signed ) Bilis,
Chairman of the Executive Committee.

[Copy of form on which clergyman's signature is to be obtained.]

[Signature form]

I, the undersigned clergyman living at

district , county

village, acknowledges that on April , 1941, I was informed that I have been

strictly forbidden and have no right to teach religion to children of school age,
either in the schools or in my home or any place in general. Thus I have no
right whatever to talk to them on religious matters.

At the same time I have been informed I will be held responsible for failure
to comply with this warning, whereto I affix my signature.



Clergyman's signature.

Mr. Kersten. That is the promise or that is the document that they
sought to get every clergyman to sign; is that correct?

Bishop Brizgys. That is.

Mr. Kersten. And at the beginning of that secret order, I believe
I noticed when I looked at it last night that it said, "I request that
immediately upon receiving this statement yon invite all the clergy" —
priests, ministers, rabbis, etc. — in other words the minister of every
religion was included in this secret order; is that correct, Your Ex-
cellency?

Bishop Brizgys. That is correct, and not only Catholic clergymen
but orthodox priests, ministers, and so on.

Mr. Kersten. Were there other secret orders that you similarly
made copies of with regard to religion? For example, is there one
pertaining to how the Communists were supposed to handle the situa-
tion on Christmas Day and other religious holidays?

Bishop Brizgys. I have the copies and translations in English of
four documents concerning the holidays, and so on. 15ut those docu-
ments are not secret any more for Lithuanians, because they were
seized by the Partisans, and so they were published information.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 235

Mr. Kersten. They were supposed to be secret at the time, were
they not ?

Bishop Brizgys. They were secret.

Mr. Kersten. Do you have one there pertaining to what they were
supposed to do on Christmas Day?

Bishop Brizgys. I have one concerning the days of All Saints and
All Souls. The second one I have is concerning Christmas.

Mr. Kersten. Would you read that one pertaining to Christmas?

Bishop Brizgys. There are two pertaining to Christmas,

Mr. Kersten. Read one that would be typical, if you will.

Bishop Brizgys. The heading on this is, "Completely Secret,"

Mr. I^rsten. The heading on that is, "Completely Secret"?

Bishop Brizgys, Yes,

(Bishop Brizgys then read as follows:)

[Completely Secret]

On the 2r)th and 26th days of December Catholics celebrate the so-called
Christmas holidays. On those days beginning with the evening of the 24th-2r)th
of December services are held and sermons are preached in the chnrches. Both
of these days are considered by the faithful to be very great holidays, that is,
not workinc: days.

The nationalistic counterrevolutionary element and especially the clergy this
year will try to use Christmas for their work of opposition, especially along the
following lines :

(a) By attempts to stop work in factories and studies in schools;

(b) By agitation from church pulpits against participation in the elections
through the guise of sermons of a greater or lesser religious content, and at the
same time by instructing the faithful individually or in groups in churches,
sacristies, church houses ;

(c) By spreading counterrevolutionary literature, whether its contents be
religious or otherwise ;

(d) By attempts to lead the faithful in street demonsti-ations or to other
excesses, etc.

Mr. Kersten. I suppose that a religious procession would come
under that?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes, they were forbidden, [Continued reading :]

For the purpose of preventing events of this sort, you must :

1. Study once again Directive No. 1919 of November 27, 1940, and carry it out
in detail.

2. Obligate your entire network of agent-informers to unmask the anti-
Soviet preparations of the clergy and allied organizations (Ateitininkai), the
Catholic Youth Organization known as the Futurists, and others ; meeting with
your agents from December 20 to the 27th, and through more frequent reports.

3. Insure jointly with the police organs, the maintenance of civil order on the
holidays, avoiding, however, the posting of too many police groups near the
churches.

4. Take means of insuring normal work in the factories and of classes in the
schools.

5. Organize city patrols and patrol duty for the nights of December 2.3, 24, 25,
and 26. Consult regarding this matter with the secretary of the county party



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 29 of 75)