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

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committee in order to enroll as many as possible activists of the party and Kom-
somol youths and instruct them in this work.

6. Document all the facts of any anti-Soviet actions and report them to me.


L. 8. 8. R. Peoples Com'missar of the Interior.

Mr. Kersten. Now this was one of the orders, and you do have
copies of other secret orders pertaining to the same subject ?


Bishop Brizgys. I have one concerning the visitation to the parish-
oners. It is a tradition in Lithuania that the pastor visits every fam-
ily for the census, and so on.

Mr. Kersten. What is that order, Your Excellency ?

Bishop Brizgys. This order in short is to enroll possibly more sac-
ristans among the spies to follow what the priests are speaking in the
churches and to the families, and so on, and to have members of the
families who would inform the secret police and the party about the
conduct of priests during those visitations of the families.

Mr. Kersten. We would like for the record to include all of these
orders, some of which you have not read in full, and Mr. Reporter, you
will have copies of those orders and we would like them inserted in the
record at this point.

(The following represent copies of documents copied into the

October 27, 1940
Nr. 1669

[Completely Secret]

To the County Chiefs of the People's Commissariat of the Interior:

On Friday, November 1, faithful Catholics celebrate the so-called feast of All
Saints, and on Saturday, November 2, the so-called feast of All Souls.

Special services are conducted in all churches on these days and on the eve
of All Soul's Day candlelight processions proceed to the cemeteries.

There is no doubt that the clergy, having recently intensified their counter-
revolutionary activity, will attempt to use this opportunity for their agitation,
to incite the people to anti-Soviet action, to spread counterrevolutionary procla-
mations, etc.

Besides this, the L. S. S. R.'s Commissariat of the Interior has information that
the nationalistic students are preparing anti-Soviet demonstrations at the ceme-
teries on All Soul's Day, at the graves of the dead Baltic soldiers.

For the purpose of stopping all possible counterrevolutionary activity, the
spread of anti-Soviet proclamations, etc.

I command :

1. On these holy days operatives be sent to meeting places of the faithful,
cemeteries, etc. For this purpose plainclothes men may also be used.

2. The network of agents-informers should also be instructed in this work.
They should be obligated to immediately inform the local People's Commissariat
of Internal Affairs about all anti-Soviet activity that they have noted : the
spreading of counterrevolutionary proclamations, the anti-Soviet speeches, etc.

3. The people guilty of anti-Soviet activity should be immediately taken into
custody without any fanfare and with the use of a suitable pretext for their

B. Baranauskas,
Deputy Commissar of the Interior of the L. S. 8. R.

[Completely Secret]

To the Chief of the Vilnius City Administration of the People's Commissariat of

Internal Affairs of the L. 8. 8. R.:
To County and Branch Chiefs of the People's Commissariat of the Interior of the

L. 8.' 8. R.:
To the chairman of all operating sections of the center:



On the 2.")-26 of December the Catholics celebrate the so-called birth of Christ.
In connection with this (beginning In the month of November) the priests take
the parish census, make the traditional visits to their parishioners, during which
they solicit donations for the church, church institutions, the clergy, organists,
sacristans, etc., and at the same time they examine the children in their cate-


chism. And in many places the faithful are informed about the time of the
visits through special mimeographed announcements.

According to information had by the People's Commissariat of the Interior
of the L. S. S. R., this year the clergy will use this period of visitation for
hostile action : agitation against participation in the elections, against the
reading of the Soviet press, to spread anti-Soviet rumors, to create dissatisfac-
tion with Soviet rule, etc.

In order to beat them to the punch, you must immediately recruit your entire
network of agent-informers, to seek more information and recruit new informers
amongst the clergy and people in the vicinity who receive the visiting clergy so
that all anti-Soviet acts of the visiting clergy may be unmasked.^

Whenever it appears possible, county and branch chiefs sliould speak to
authoritative representatives of the clergy (canons, monsignors, and deans, but
not bishops) and in a polite conversation give them strong warning that we are
not hindering their religious duties ; that we will, liowever, not tolerate any anti-
Soviet agitation or action ; that all offenders would be punislied. All investi-
gations should be made by day either in organ, party, or Soviet institutions —
according to conveniences and correctness. The entire action sliould be con-
ducted in a very polite tactful, and cultured form ; no roughness, insults, or
attacks are permitted, and I will hold you strictly responsible for them.

All the material about the anti-Soviet activity of the clergy during the visita-
tion period according to their behavior should be immediately sent to the UGB
PCIA L. S. S. R. section 2.


People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, L. S. 8. R.
November 28, 1940
Nr. 1919

Bishop Brizgys, The extreme measure against religion was and is
the extermination of the clergy.

One hundred and fifty Catholic priests Avere arrested in Litliuania
during the first year of the Soviet occupation. Every priest had to
choose 1 of 2 courses to follow : to be deported to Siberia or to spy on
other priests and his parishioners. In 1 year, 16 Catholic priests
were killed in Lithuania, 6 are missing without any trace, the rest
were freed by the Lithuanian Partisans with the beginning of the war
in June 1941.

Mr. Kersten. Those who were freed had been held in jail; is that
correct ?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes.

In 1944 the Soviet Army returned to Lithuania. During the months
of the war under the military government, the Soviets showed more
tolerance toward religion. After the war, Communist action against
religion was intensified.

During the first 2 years after the war, 4 Lithuanian Catholic bishops
and 89 Lithuanian priests were arrested, and each year following about
100 priests were arrested.

Since the Communist regime in Lithuania, there is no Catholic

Eress, no private schools, no teaching of religion. Even parents must
e overly cautious in teaching religion to their own children, because
very often the children are interrogated by spies — they are asked
if they go to church, do they know their prayers, and who taught

Now we and 10 other European countries can see how true was the
statement of Moscow's plenipotentiary, Pozdnaikov, made to me on
January 14, 1941 — "with all its power and all its experience, Moscow
will combat religion everywhere."

1 All investigated facts about the clergy's antisovietism should be documented either
through the secret interrogation of witnesses or from informational sources and agents.


I would remember or call attention that my experience is that the
free world understand exactly an article of the Russian Constitution.
In the free world I hear speaking that the Russian Constitution guar-
antees the freedom of religion. It is not exact. The Russian Consti-
tution, if I remember correctly article 8, speaks in terms that the
Russian Constitution guarantees the freedom of worship and the free-
dom to atheistic propaganda. Between religion and worship there
is a very great difference.

Worship : only the ceremonies in the church like funerals, like bless-
ing of the marriage, like the mass; that is worship. But religion
means something more; religion means teaching of religion. That
is not allowed by the Russian Constitution, teaching of religion.

Mr. Kersten. Particularly to the young.

Bishop Brizgys. Particularly to the young. This statement or
this document that I read, the translation in English, accord w^ith the
Russian Constitution and with the penal code of Russia. That is
teaching of religion, especially to the youth and to the children, and
it is forbidden, it is not allowed.

So it is not exact to speak about the Russian Constitution guarantees
the freedom of religion. It is not true. It guarantees only the

Mr. Kersten. Now, Your Excellency, as I understand it, you lived
under the first year of Communist occupation.

Bishop Brizgys. Yes; I lived in Kaunas in Lithuania.

Mr. Kersten. Then you lived there for a while after the Nazis
came in ?

Bishop Brizgys. I lived 4 years under the Nazis.

Mr, Kersten. Now during that second occupation — that is the
one under the Nazis, will you state what if anything you did or said
with regard to the Nazis persecution of the Jewish people?

Bishop Brizgys. I am not prepared for a statement on this matter
because I understood from the letter which invited me to come here —
I am prepared only to speak about the situation of the church and
of the different nations under the Russians. But, concerned with
the German occupation, the destiny of the Jewish people was very,
very deplorable.

Mr. Kersten. And how did you happen to leave; what was the
reason for your leaving Lithuania? Under what circumstances did
you leave Lithuania?

Bishop Brizgys. I was taken by the Gestapo on the 26th of July

Mr. Kersten. The Gestapo took you out of Lithuania?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes. All Lithuanian Catholic bishops we decided
to remain in Lithuania even under the second occupation of the
Russian Army because our feeling was that we must stay with our
churches and with our people. But three Lithuanian bishops were
taken away by the Gestapo by order of the German Government.

Mr. Kersten. You were included in that order?

Bishop Brizgys. I was included in this order.

Mr. Kersten. So you were taken from Lithuania by the Gestapo?

Bisliop Brizgys. The order was to take all Catholic bishops from
Lithuania. From Lithuania was taken only three because the rest
were at this moment in the hands of the Russian Army. So they
had no possibility to fulfill this order.


Mr. Kersten. Mr. Bentley.

Mr. Bentley. In the last paragi-aph of your statement, Bishop,
jou quote Pozdniako as making a statement on January 14, 1941.

Bishop Brizgys. I did.

Mr. Bentley. Did he make the statement direct to you?

Bishop Brizgys. To me.

Mr. Bentley. I think the committee would be interested to know
under what circumstances under which he was speaking to you on
the subject of religion.

Bishop Brizgys. Would you put your attention, Congressman, that
January 13, 1941, was expelled the Priests' Seminary in 12 hours.
And so the Lithuanian bishops united in Kaunas and considered this
situation. Bishop Borisevicius and myself were asked to go to Pozd-
niakov. Plenipotentiary of Moscow, to ask the possibilities to con-
tinue the work of the Priests' Seminary.

On this occasion he made the statement that our efforts are impru-
dent because, "You are providing young men for the priesthood, and
in a few years, in a short time, the church will no more exist, and for
what purpose, what good are those priests ?"

Mr. Bentley. You heard him say those things ?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes, it was the discussion in his office on this

Mr. Bentley. Just one more question. Regarding the churches
in many of the occupied countries, particularly the Roman Catholic
Church, some people think that the Communists are attempting to
nationalize it; that is to cut it off from all outside contacts with Rome,
and so forth, and then to leave it alone; and other people think the
idea is to abolish it entirely. What would be your idea ?

Bishop Brizgys. Well, I answer to this question indirectly. The
Orthodox Church is not an international church in such sense as the
Roman Catholic Church. All local Protestant churches — and Mos-
cow combats even those churches. So that this is a kind of deceiving
action of Moscow. First it is to go gradually, first for the Catholics
from Rome, to try to put the church in the service of the regime, and
after the service will be rendered, then it will be abolished.

Mr. Bentley. Was there any collaboration among the priests in
Lithuania with the Communists?

Bishop Brizgys. Well, I must be sincere in such matter and agree
that one priest in Lithuania was collaborating with the Russians.

Mr. Bentley. Out of how many approximately ?

Bishop Brizgys. We had over 1,400 priests.

Mr. Bentley. And one collaborated ?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes.

Mr. Bentley. Thank you. Bishop.

Mr. Kersten. I think it is interesting at this point to note that
Congressman Bentley who has just questioned you. Your Excellency,
has had some very first-hand experiences with this same thing in
Hungary at the time of the trial of Cardinal Mindzenty.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Madden.

Mr. Madden. Bishop Brizgys, from your testimony and also from
the testimony of the preceding witness, Pastor Rudolf Kiviranna
of the Lutheran ministry who testified regarding the educaiton of the
children in religion, I take it that the purpose of the Communist
Soviet regime is to prohibit and banish the teaching of religion to


the youth of any denomination, and in that way within the period of
one generation all religion will be banished from the nations under
Soviet domination. Is that how you feel ?

Bishop Brizgys. From my experience as far as I was able to meet
with the Russian military is that it is not so easy to finish with religion
in one generation,

Mr. Madden. But that is their intention.

Bishop Brizgys. Yes.

Mr. Madden. Do you think that their intentions and purposes will
succeed in one generation or two generations ?

Bishop Brizgys. In two or three generations it can succeed. That
is, instead of religion, will remain ignorance in religious matters.
Then in place of religion can be put some kind of mythology that
was tried in Nazi Germany.

Mr. Madden. That is all.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Bonin.

Mr. Bonin. Your Excellency, I notice that one of the first steps
was the cancellation of the concordat signed by Lithuania and the
Vatican in 1933. After they canceled that — and we have also heard
testimony before this committee that they have canceled all other
forms of solemn agreements that they entered into with other nations
in this world

Bishop Brizgys. All agreements made between Lithuania and the
different countries were canceled.

Mr. Bonin. We have heard testimony in Washington and in New
York that all solemn agreements that the Russian Government ever
entered into have been abrogated and tossed to the winds.

Bishop Brizgys. What concerns Lithuania is right.

Mr. Bonin. Do you believe that we can rely upon the word of the
ofKcials of the Russian Government in future agreements, treaties, con-
cordats, any form of pact?

Bishop Brizgys. From my personal dealings with those personali-
ties, and considering the past, how they held their agreements be-
tween Lithuania and Russia, I beg your pardon for my expression
but it would be too naive to believe that the Russians in the near future
will be changed.

Mr. Bonin. In other words, in your opinion, gathered from previ-
ous experience, it is questionable in your mind whether any agree-
ment would be lived up to by the Russians?

Bishop Brizgys. With the Russian regime I would not believe that
any agreement would be lived up to by Moscow. As far as how much
is useful for Moscow, yes; but no further.

Mr. Kersten. That is just about exactly what former President
Herbert Hoover said here this morning.

Bishop Brizgys. I am very thankful to Mr. Hoover for this state-
ment on this, our common feeling.

Mr. Bonin. Your Excellency, in making a study of some of these
occupied countries, I notice that it was the policy of the Soviet sys-
tem to make all religious holidays workdays to keep the people away
from church.

Bishop Brizgys. Yes.

Mr. Bonin. You have found that to be true also in Lithuania?


Bishop Brizoys. That is not only factual but there were obligatory
orders on holidays. We were forced to observe only Communist

Mr. BoNiN. Certainly as one member of this committee — and I am
sure we all feel the same way — we appreciate your testimony because
we are convinced the only way that we can apprise the American
people and the other freedom-loving people in the world is to bring
these matters to the attention of all our citizens.

Bishop Brizgts. Thank you.

Mr. ICersten. It has been suggested that we introduce into the
record in connection with Bishop Brizgys' testimony these three
i:>amphlets with regard to religion in Lithuania. It will be so ordered.

(Marked in evidence as Exhibits 10-A, 10-B, 10-C, being, respec-
tively, "The Situation of the Church and Keligious Practices in Occu-
pied Lithuania," "Martyred Bishops," and "Fifteen Liquidated Priests
in Lithuania," see appendix.)

Mr. Kersten. There is one question I would like to ask you before
you leave, Your Excellency. As I understand it, in your position as
bishop in Kaunas, you had occasion a number of times to observe what
the true feeling of some of the supposed Communists was and even the
Russian Communist officers who came in there.

Was there one occasion when, secretly, one of these officers came to
you with regard to a baptism matter ?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes; I had this case

Mr. Kersten. Would you tell us briefly about that?

Bishop Brizgys. In September 1940 a colonel of the Russian Army
asked to baptize two of his daughters. One was perhaps 16, and the
second 12 years. We agreed to do this. We satisfied his desire be-
cause I was persuaded that this request was sincere.

Mr. Kerstex. Can you state whether or not he had his suspicions
about one of the metropolitans who was sent over, or was that a matter
that did not pertain relevantly to this?

Bishop Brizgys. On this time was living in Kaunas an Orthodox
metropolitan named by my colleague from Estonia.

Mr. Kersten. Sergius?

Bishop Brizgys. Sergius. I tried to send this official, this colonel
to. the Orthodox bishop because the colonel was Orthodox.

Mr. Kersten. So you suggested that he see the Orthodox bishop?

Bishop Brizgys. Yes; but he refused. The reason was because this
bishop was sent to the Baltic countries from Moscow, and he said
exactly that if he got permission from Moscow to go out of Russia
that he promised to be loyal to the Moscow Government — "and there-
fore I can't leave this matter with him."

I don't know if the colonel had ground for his suspicion. I state
only what he answered.

Mr. Kersten. In other w^ords, as I understand it, this colonel from
his own statements did not want to trust it to be known or let it to be
known to this Moscow-sent clergyman for fear he might perhaps get
into real difficulties if it were known that his daughters were being

Bishop Brizgys. As far as I know from my experience with the
Russians in Lithuania, if they feel that one clergyman, he could be
Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, if he is in good relations with their
Government, they don't believe more in this clergyman.


Mr. Kerstex. Aiid that is the same clergyman that the colonel was
referring to and the same one the Lutheran pastor who preceded you
here this morning referred to?

Bishop Brizgys. It is the same Bishop Sergius named by my

Mr. Kersten. I believe the pastor mentioned that he thought there
was a suspicion that he was a spy.

Mr. Bentley. That is right.

Mr. Kersten. Then, as I understand it, there was an occasion when
two Russian girls, knowing nothing about Christianity, asked you
sometliing about getting Gospels.

Bishop Brizgys. I had this case in September 1940. I was walking
in the garden of the seminary and came to me two girls, Russian
girls. They introduced themselves as the daughters of officials of the
Russian Army. The purpose was, why they come to a Catholic priest,
to have the Gospel in Russian. I asked what they know^ about the
Gospel and what they will do with the Gospel. They say, "We intend
or we wish to know something more about Jesus Christ."

I asked, "What do you know about Jesus Christ?" "Well," they
answered, "we know as far as we heard in the schools speaking
against." In the schools they were taught against such religion; that
it was a legend about Jesus Christ, and so on; that he founded a
religion and the dark western world believes in this legend and fol-
lows this legend ; but Russia now is more instructed and cultural than
the West, and in the past Russian nations they believed in this, but
no more. So they say, "It is curious to see what is this Gospel and
who was this Jesus Christ."

I was able to give a book of Gospels in Russian. I had with me
some copies of an edition from London, England, Gospel in Russian.
What follow^ed after this, if they were satisfied with this Gospel or
not, I don't know what happened after.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you, your Excellency. You have made a great
contribution to us here in a better understanding of what happened
to religion in Lithuania, and we are very pleased that you have
appeared before us. Thank you.

At tliis time I would like to state that we have consulted with one
of the leading Jewish rabbis of Lithuania, one of the Baltic states,
and because of the fact that he has relatives back in that country he
believes that it might be dangerous for them under the special circum-
stances of his appearance to make a public statement.

We intend to arrange, if possible, for an executive session, which
w^e very likely will have shortly, for the story of the persecution like-
wise of the Jewish people, of the Jewish religion, which was certainly
corroborated by the secret order referred to by Bishop Brizgys, that
ministers, rabbis, and priests were all equally persecuted.

At this time we would like to present one more witness for the com-
mittee, and will call a priest from Lithuania who was tortured. He
also has relatives back there, and for that reason we must keep his
identity unknown, but we will take so much of his story that he can
relate about the treatment to him that he can personally testify to,
at the same time protecting his indentity but in order that we may
have for the record the story of this clergyman who was tortured.



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

Anonymous Priest. I do.

Mr. Kersten. You are a clergyman, are you ?

Anonymous Priest. Yes ; I am a Catholic Priest.

Mr. Kersten. And you are from Lithuania ?

Anonymous Priest. Yes ; I am from Lithuania.

Mr. Kersten. Do you have a statement that you wish to make?

Anonymous Priest. Yes ; I have a statement I wish to read.

Mr. Kersten. Would you please read that statement ?

Anonyimous Priest. Very well.

In January 1941 an election was held to select Lithuanian deputies
in the Soviet Supreme Government. The election was a farce; in
my parish for example, only 13 percent voted. In neighboring locali-
ties the percentage was about the same.

I, myself, refused to vote. Many people for no other reason than
their refusal to vote were arrested. Night after night more and more
nonvoters disappeared.

On the fatal night of January 29, 1941, I was arrested by the secret
police of the newly formed Communist state. After an exhaustive
search they discovered in my room a photo album and two letters from
a sister of mine living in the United States. These were considered
additional justification for my arrest.

In the prison to which I was taken the other inmates and I were
subjected to brutish and utterly inhuman treatment. We were pistol
whipped, slugged, kicked, and eye gouged. My head was slammed
against the wall, and time after time under this treatment I collapsed
into unconsciousness. My jailers alternated torture and interroga-
tion. All told I was questioned 18 nights from 10 o'clock until 4 in
the morning. During these periods I was always stripped naked and
brutally beaten.

Sometimes when they themselves needed sleep they would throw

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