United States. Congress. House. Select committee o.

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

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me into solitary confinement in an underground cell.' One of these
periods lasted for 8 days during which time they gave me neither food
nor water.

On another occasion I was stuffed into a wooden box like a coffin,
so small I could neither kneel or sit, much less fall down. I was locked
in this torture closet for 8 hours. On still another occasion I was
stripped to my underwear and locked for 20 hours in a room half filled
with ice. On my release I collapsed from the terrible cold.

During the 6 months of my imprisonment, I was prevented from
informing even my mother of my whereabouts.

Halfway through this period when I was weakened by the bestial
treatment I had received, I was forced to sign five pieces of blank
paper. I was then told that my ordeal was at an end.

I can now understand how Cardinal Mindzenty and others "con-
fessed," because if you sign those blank papers, 1 believe that later
they filled those papers, and my signature was, it means that I con-
fessed all those things.

Mr. Kersten. You can't understand


Anonymous Priest. I understand now how they can "confess,"
those clergymen.

Mr. Kersten. They forced you to sign some unfilled papers ; is that

Anonymous Priest. Yes ; that is correct.

P^inally they readied me for my trip to Siberia on June 25. Fortu-
nately for me, the Germans attacked on June 22. The Eussians fled
within 8 hours. The 500 prisoners broke down the doors and broke
through the barred windows. Within 3 days the Germans allowed
us to return to our homes.

Before leaving, however, I entered the prison office and found the
NKVD record of my 6 months' imprisonment. I kept this, my own
prison record in the handwriting of my jailers, as proof of my charges.

Mr. Kersten. I show you a document — I have covered over the
name on the first page — and ask you what that is.

Anonymous Priest. It is my record of imprisonment.

Mr. Kersten. How did you happen to get possession of that?

Anonymous Priest. We escaped, and then we broke into the jail
office, and I find this, my record, in the prison office.

Mr. Kersten. So, when the prisoners broke out, you made your way
up to the front office after the NKVD had left the building, and you
went to their records and you got your own prison record of your
imprisonment ?

Anonymous Priest. That is right. It is my own record.

Mr. Kj:rsten. In looking through this record portions of which
would reveal your identity and therefore I will not disclose it, I notice
there are some portions of the record which refer to your being put
into solitary confinement. You have examined this record and know
what is in it ; do you not ?

Anonymous Priest. I know but I cannot read Russian. I find
some Lithuanian in that record, and I know which is the record of
my punishment.

Mr. Kersten. Can you state briefly what the record shows of some
of the punishment and torture that is in this Russian-written docu-

Anonymous Priest. It is in Russian and Lithuanian. For 3 days
special punishment without food in a cold basement. Another time,
5 days witliout food in the same place in a cold basement.

Mr. Kersten. This was written by the NKVD officers and placed
in your file?

Anonymous Priest. That is right ; that is correct.

Mr. McTiGUE. You said. Father, that night after night you were
taken to a room, stripped of your clothing and beaten brutally by
the NKVD agents. Did they say anything to you during the course
of your beatings? Was it done in silence or was there any conver-
sation ?

Anonymous Priest. They did that in a completely closed room,
and also used insulting words, immodest words, cursing. Then they
tried to insult my religion. They cursed me and were foolish of
God and of our religion.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did they knock you down and pick you up?

Anonymous Priest. They did.

Mr. McTigue. When they were doing that, did they have any
comments to make on your religion, on your God, on your faith?


Anonymous Priest. They said many times insulting words against
religion and against my duties as a priest.

Mr. McTiGUE. What did they say, for example?

Anonymous Priest. One day when they were beating me I was
screaming, and I called out, "Jesus, help me." Then that same man
who was questioning me, he beat me and he says, "Show me where is
your God now. Your God is on vacation now. Nobody can help

Mr. McTiGUE. They wanted to know where your God was?

Anonymous Priest. They did, they said so.

Mr. McTiGUE. In your testimony you referred to the fact that you
were put into an ice storage vault.

Anonyi^ious Priest. In the ice.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was that room filled with ice ?

Anonymous Priest. The room was very dark, small room in the
basement, and they put me in that room, and I can't see anything.
I just touch with my hands, and I find it is pieces of ice, I think
about half filled of that room with ice. I have about 1 yard dis-
tance between the pieces of ice and the door.

Mr. McTiGUE. So if you collapsed you would have fallen on the

Anonymous Priest. No. When they took me out through the
door, instantly I collapsed not on the ice.

Mr. McTiGUE. If you fell down in the room, would you have fallen
on the ice ?

Anonymous Priest. Just on the door.

Mr. McTiGUE. That is all.

]Mr. Kersten. Any questions, Mr. Bentle}?^?

Mr. Bentley. Father, what were you charged witli when they
brought you into the prison?

Anonymous Priest. First they believed that I make such influence
that people did not vote in that neighborhood. Many, many people
were arrested for that reason, and they arrested me for that reason.

Mr. Bentley. They were trying to get you to confess to that dur-
ing this torture?

Anonymous Priest. They did, they forced me to confess that I
make influence that people will not go to vote.

Mr. Bentley. On the basis of your confession you were going to
be deported to Siberia, except for the fact that the war broke out?

Anonymous Priest. From time to time, because the jails were filled,
they tried to make room for others, and from time to time they were
shipping those men to Siberia so they would have more room for
others to come in, the newly arrested.

Mr. Bentley. After you escaped from the prison, when did you
leave Lithuania?

Anonymous Priest. I was in Lithuania all the time.

Mr, Bentley. After you escaped from the prison, when did you
leave Lithuania to come to this country ?

Anonymous Priest. During the war. I left my country in 194^
and lived in Germany, and in 1946, in September, I came to this

Mr. Bentley. One thing more. Have the results of this brutal tor-
ture and treatment that you have been telling us about left any last-
ing physical effects upon your condition ?

52075— 54— pt. 1 17


Anonymous Priest. Not now, but for about 2 years I have those

Mr. Bentley. Up to 2 years ago you still had the marks of your
torture ?

Anonymous Priest. Yes; I had.

Mr. Bentley. Thank you.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Bonin.

Mr. Bonin. No questions.

Mr. Kersten. Just this question. Did the guerrillas or partisans
help you to get out of Lithuania ?

Anonymous Priest. No ; because when I left Lithuania

Mr. Kersten. I mean out of jail ; who got you out of jail ?

Anonymous Priest. We broke ourselves the windows and the doors
and we escaped, and in 3 days we were to our homes.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you.

]\Ir. Kersten. Dean Kullitis.


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. Kullitis. I do.

Mr. Kersten. Will you state your full name, please I

Mr. Kullitis. Jekabs Kullitis.

Mr. Kersten. You are presently residing where, Dean ?

Mr. Kullitis. In New York here.

Mr. Kersten. What is your present situation ?

Mr. Kullitis. I am the representative of the Latvian Evangelic
Lutheran Church and of the archbishop and I am also supervising the
Latvian congregations in the eastern part of the United States.

Mr. Kersten. Do you have a statement?

Mr. Kullitis. Yes. I am happy to testify here to the committee
and I think I shall not repeat the statements made so well by Pastor
Kiviranna, who spoke of Estonia. But I can tell you some details
concerning the Communist regime in Latvia.

Mr. Kersten. If you will. Dean; yes.

Mr. Kullitis. I shall tell the committee about tlie persecution of
the Latvian Evangelic Lutheran Church by the Soviet invaders in
1940-41, about deportation of thousands of members of the Latvian
congregations and about economic ruining of the Latvian church.

I am deeply convinced, on the basis of my personal experiences, that
communism is the worst enemy of the Christian religion and of the
whole mankind, because it is a totalitarian regime which enslaves not
only a man's body, but also his spirit and soul. The words of our Lord
Jesus Christ can well be applied to communism : "Do not fear those who
kill the bod}^ but cannot kill the soul ; rather fear him who can destroy
both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10 : 28). And it is communism
that strives at destroying our soul and body.

I experienced communism twice. For the first time during the years
1918-19, when after the First World War the Communists invaded
Latvia. At that time I served as a ]>astor's assistant in Rauna, Latvia,
and my superior was Pastor Adams Jende. The Communists arrested
Pastor Jende in my presence and accused him of being a German spy.


Consequently he was deported to Russia and was murdered near the
city of Pskow (Russia) by shooting. Pastor Jende was an innocent
man and died as one of the martyrs of the Christian church.

During the first Communist invasion of Latvia during the years"
1918-19, the intruders murdered 32 pastors of the Latvian Evangelic
Lutheran Church. These are the men about whom the Holy Bible
says : "Be ye faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life"
(Revelations 2:10). At this time I was a young pastor and the
Communists did not touch me. I remember the advice given to me
at that time by Communist officials. In order to hold divine services
a permit was to be obtained from, the chairman of the Communist
executive committee. On these occasions I was given the following
Communist advice : "Young comrade, you must change your profes-
sion. Your present profession will not last long. Religion is opium
and all clergymen are liars." I answered that I disagreed with his
words and would wait for future events.

Mr. Maddkx. What year was that?

Mr. KuLLiTis. This was in the year 1918.

The first Communist rule in Latvia in 1918-19 lasted onlj^ for a feAV
months. The national armies of the Baltic States drew the invaders
out of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

My second Communist experience was in the years 1940-41, when
Soviets for the second time invaded my country. At that time I was
pastor in Jelgava, Latvia, with a jDarish of 12,000 souls. I had three
assistant pastors. During the early part of 1940 I had also been
appointed dean of the diocese of Jelgava and had 16 subordinated pas-
tors there. During the same year I also w^as appointed a member of
the supreme board of the Latvian Evangelic Lutheran Church. The
chairman of the board was Archbishop Prof. Dr. Teodors Grinbergs.

Li June 1940, the Communists violated all treaties they had con-
cluded with Latvia and occupied the latter. At this time people used
to sa}', "jNIaybe the ways of communism have changed." However, it
soon became evident that Communist methods and aims had not
changed ; they only used more caution in applying their methods.

Shortly after this second occupation the Communists started their
spiritual oppression. They proclaimed that church was separated
from the state. This was no innovation since already from the begin-
ning of Latvia's independence, church and state had been separated
similarly to the United States pattern. But under the Communists
ihis separation was applied in a different way: In a Soviet controlled
country state fights the church and aims at the destroving of the

In order to express disdain of all holy things, the Communists imme-
diately issued an order forbidding to capitalize the word "God." News-
papers had to spell the word "God" with small letters.

Schools' were forbidden to teach Scripture and Christian ethics.
These were substituted with antireligious propaganda. It was for-
biclden to explain religion to children under the age of 16, while anti-
religious schooling of children was greatly encouraged. Teachers and
Communist propaganda workers taught antireligious subjects.

The name of Sunday was replaced with nonworking day and all
Christian holidays were abolished. On Sundays during church serv-
ices Communists held meetings in factories and schools and workers
and pupils were compelled to attend. At these meetings endless lee-


tures on Marx ideologies were held. Communists, like Hitlerite Nazis,
had a special pattern for voluntary work to help Communist con-

At Christmas time the sale of Christmas trees was prohibited
throughout the country. Only during the last days of December
Christmas trees could be sold. The great celebration was to take place
on New Year's Eve in commemoration of the new Communist era and
its founders, Lenin and Stalin.

On Christian holidays daily newspapers carried an increased num-
ber of antireligious articles in which the historic existence of Christ
was denied and the entire Christmas story explained as superstition.

The separation of church and scliool had grave consequences for the
teaching staff, which was not permitted to take part in any congrega-
tion activities. For example, I had a good organist who was also
music teacher at the State Teachers' College. He received orders to
discontinue playing the organ in my church and I had to look for a
replacement. This is an example showing how congregations were
deprived of their workers. Within a short time rural congregations
had great difficulty in obtaining substitutes for those active members
deprived from participation in church activities.

During divine services agents of the NKVD (Soviet secret police)
were prasent in churches and closely followed the contents of the
sermons made by pastors. They duly reported their findings to
the NKVD.

The Bolshevists also forbid the use of cliurch bells and the holding
of services outside the church building. For funeral services a special
permit from the NKVD was required.

The Soviet Government also closed both theological faculties at the
Latvian State University in Eiga — the Evangelic Lutheran faculty
and the Eoman Catholic faculty, which were the country's only insti-
tutions preparing clergymen. The Parochial High School in Riga,
the only high school established by the Latvin Evangelic Lutheran
Church, was also closed. All religious pu.blications were discontinued
in order to give the people only antireligious literature and propa-
ganda in the newspapers. Such is liberty of the press in countries
ruled by the Communists.

Shortly before tlie Communist invasion, tlip Latvian Evangelic
Lutheran Church had 18,000 copies of hymn books printed which had
to be bound before distributing. The Bolshevists immediately confis-
cated these books and later ordered them sent to politicial prisons for
use instead of toilet paper. Bibles and other religious books were
removed from public and school libraries.

Mr. Kerstent. On that point, Dean, I think I saw an order in Rus-
sian listing as a criminal offense the possession of a Bible. Is that
in accordance with what you are telling us now? In other words,
it was criminal for a person to possess a Bible ?

Mr. KuLLiTis. Yes, and the distributing of Bibles was criminal.
The pastors used to distribute Bibles for confirmation. This was a
criminal deed ; it was prohibited.

Mr. Kerstex. Will you go ahead, please?

Mr. KuLLiTis. Economic ruining of the Latvian Elvangelic Lutheran
Church: The Bolshevists aimed not only to destroy the spiritual
influence of the church, but also tried to ruin the church economically.

All church property was confiscated, churches, pastorates, (par-


sonages) and other church sites included. Land owned by churches
and even cemeteries were nationalized. All monetary deposits in
banks, bonds, and so forth, belonging to churches were confiscated.
The congregations were ordered to pay rent for occupation of premises
they had owned before the occupation. Rents were greatly increased.
For instance, as pastor I had to pay twice as high rent for my resi-
dence as other people. My congregation was a large one and there-
fore able to meet the high expenses for a certain time. The smaller
congTegations were unable to make such high payments and there-
fore joined others. This explains the decrease of number of con-
gregations in Latvia after Communist occupation.

Some of the nationalized churches were taken over by various
Communist organizations and used for profane purposes. For
example, the newl}'' erected church in Ludza was converted into a
movie house and the Riga Anglican Church was used as a warehouse.

Deportation of clergymen: The deepest sufferings, however, to
which the Latvian Evangelic Lutheran Church has been exposed
since Communist occupation, were brought along wdth deportations
of church leadere, pastors, and members of congregations.

During one night alone, June 13 to 14, 1941, 15,000 Latvians were
deported to Soviet slave labor camps in remote Siberia. Among these
victims there were also two professors of theology :

1. Prof. Dr. thol. Ludvigs Adamovics, former ^Minister of Educa-
tion of Latvia, who was deported with his wife and two children.

2. Prof. Dr. thol. Edgars Rumba, graduate of Upsala University in
Sweden, deported with his wife and two minor children, of whom one
died en route. Professor Rumba was a member of the supreme board
of the Latvian Evangelic Lutheran Church. According to informa-
tion recently received in Sweden, Professor Rumba is no longer among
the living.

Two other members of the supreme church board were also deported :

3. Attorney-at-law Heinrichs Rusis, vice president of the supreme
boaixl of tlie Latvian Evangelic Lutheran Church and its legal coun-
selor, and

4. Aleksandrs Dzerve, chairman of the Latvian Chamber of

Eight pastors were also deported during this one night or horror.
Three of them died en route. They were :

5. Pastor Arturs Krauklis of Krimulda congregation in Vidzeme,
who had been arrested earlier and kept in prison until June 14, when
he finally was deported ;

6. Pastor Janis Kangars of Lutrini congregation in Kurzeme.
He was arrested and deported together with his entire f amil}^ ;

7. Pa. tor Ernest Ileiih; of Celminieki-Pampali congregation. He
hi no longer living;

8. Pastor Edgars Placis of Lasi-Ilukste was also deported;

9. Pastor Augusts Sembergs of Nica in Kurzeme — no longer living;

10. Pastor Pauls Gailitis, former Minister of Education;

11. Pastor Janis Lapins of Sece congregation in Kurzeme, deported
and murdered en route;

12. Pastor's Assistant Fricis Smilga, arrested during the early part
of 1941 and later deported. The pastor had been forbidden to con-
tinue preaching and was doing manual labor at the time of his arrest.


There are among; clergymen of Latvia also a number of other direct
victims of Communist occupation. I am going to name a few of them :

1. Dean Atis Jaunzemis, from Ventspils district. He was deputy-
director of the department of schools with the Ministry of Education
and former director of the Ventspils High School. He was robbed
and murdered by members of the Red army. Dean Jaun^iemis was a
very close friend of mine. We both graduated from the Tartu,
Estonia University in 1917.

2. Dean Janis Reinhards, my former superior, for many years pastor
of the Jelgava City congregation. He was 84 years old and had
served as clergyman for 57 years. He was murdered in Jelgava by
Red army soldiers who took his golden cross of merits and disposed
of the old and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I also want to mention some clergymen who died as a result of the
Soviet occupation and Red terror :

1. Dean A. Kundzins died of a heart attack on the day of the Com-
munist invasion of Latvia, on June 17, 1940.

2. Prof. Dr. thol. Voldemars Maldonis died of a stroke during the
Soviet administration.

3. Prof. Dr. thol. Janis Rezevskis died during the retreat of the

4. Dean Ernests Kronbergs died when the Bolshevists returned in
the fall of 1944. ^ .

5. Dean Janis Straumanis, 85 years old, died in October 1944, after
the second Communist rule had just begun.

6. Dean Alberts Virbulis, member of the supreme church board,
died of a heart attack on the day when Communists invaded his
residence town.

7. Pastor Fricis Treicis, from Rauna, died on his flight from the
Soviets when the Red army, for the second time, entered Latvia.

I could go on and on naming Latvians, faithful members of the
church, who were deported or murdered by the ruthless Communists.

As the committee already knows, this ruthless regime and enslave-
ment of innocent Latvian people still continues. Terror and com-
munism are inseparable. While Christian religion preaches love,
Communists promote cruelty and atrocities. They say, "Thou must
be cruel like Lenin and Stalin were cruel against the enemies of the
people," But who are these enemies of the people? The rulers in
the Kremlin name these according to their taste and desire. Let us
only remember that Comrade Beria only recently was one of the top
Communist leaders. Overnight he became an enemy of the people,
will have to stand a trial and undoubtedly will be sentenced to die for
his crimes.

The present world knows of nothing worse, of no greater punish-
ment, than Communist slavery. It is evident that in a Soviet state
the Devil is on his own and freely disposes of human body and soul.

Therefore, it only remains to hope that the Christian iiations will
join in the struggle to liberate their Christian brothers and sisters
from these sinister forces of the Red Devil.

Fully convinced that the investigation carried out by this com-
mittee, headed by Representative Charles J. Kersten, will be of great
help to achieve our goal, the liberation of all enslaved peoples, I
humbly pray to God for the success of this work contributing to a


better iinderstaiidino: of peoples and long-lasting real peace for all
human beings.

Mr. Keksten. Any questions ?

Dean, we certainly Avish to thank you for a magnificent statement,
and thank you for your remarks concerning the committee. You
have made a great contribution to these hearings.

Mr. KuLLiTis. Thank you for your attention,

Mr. Kersten. Monsignor Stukelis.


Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and noth-
ing but the truth, so help you God ?

Monsignor Stukei.is. I do.

Mr. Kersten. Will yon identify yourself, Monsignor, please?

Monsignor Stukelis. Edward Stukelis.

Mr. Kersten. Where is your present residence, Monsignor ?

Monsignor Stukelis. Now in Manhattan, 23d Street, 332 West. I
am chaplain of the Leo House.

Mr. Kerstex. How long have you been in this country, Monsignor ?

Monsignor Stukelis. I came in 1949, August.

Mr. Kersten. Your home was in Latvia, was it ?

Monsignor Stukelis. Latvia, in Riga.

Mr. Kersten. When did you leave Latvia ?

Monsignor Stukelis. In 1944.

Mr, Kersten. You had some experiences with the Communist occu-
pation of Latvia, did you not, Monsignor ?

Monsignor Stukelis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Before the Communists came into Latvia, Riga, what
was your position ?

Monsignor Stukelis. I was counselor of the Archdiocese of Riga
since 1924.

Mr. Kersten. Will you tell us, Monsignor, of your experiences fol-
lowing that with the Communist occupation ?

Monsignor Stukelis. Yes; I have a statement.

The total population of Latvia was 2 million in 1940, of whom
500,000 were Roman Catholics.

There were 184 parishes and about 200 priests, distributed in 2
dioceses (archdiocese of Riga and diocese of Liepaja), The Catholic
Church in Latvia enjoyed freedom and liberty. All faiths and all
people of the country were living in freedom and prosperity.

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 31 of 75)