United States. Congress. House. Select committee o.

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

. (page 33 of 75)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 33 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


got no time to be a spy and I don't know how to do this job." I refused
the first time to sign it.

Then they said that I should sign this paper. They tried to use
moral power on me and started again to call me, you know, bourgeois,
and so forth.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did they beat you again ?

Mr. Banionis. No, they didn't beat me.

Mr. McTiGUE. But they continued to ask you to sign it?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGuE. Did you sign it ?

Mr. Banionis. No.

Mr. McTiGUE. Then what happened ?

Mr. Banionis. They took me to the cell, alone. After several hours
there came one NKVD agent and took me with him to one separate
room. He told me it would be better if I signed this paper. I asked
if he could'promise m.e that I would be let go free. He said, "I am
sure you will be released."

I was thinking in the last several hours before this last questioning,
what to do. The first thing I thought of was to get out away from
the terrible questioning, from the beating and from the Communist
secret police.

Mr. McTiGUE. You signed the paper to get out of there ?

Mr. Banionis. I signed the paper, just to get out of there.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were there other boys around your age who were
picked up at the same time that you were picked up, who underwent
the same kind of questioning and who signed the same kind of paper?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. I was going to the cemetery with my close
friends who were living in the same a])artment with me. There were
foul' other boys. We were arrested at the same time and in the same
way. We were questioned the same way, all of us.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did they all sign ?

Mr. Banionis. Two of them signed it. One didn't sign it.

Mr. McTiGUE. What happened to him ?

Mr. Banionis. He never came back.

Mr. McTiGUE. He was never seen again by you or your friends?

Mr. Banionis. No, no more.

During the questioning in my apartment, they made a big search
to find things against communism.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you live with your sister at that time ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Where were your father and mother?

Mr. Banionis. My father died in 1929. My mother was living with
my brother in the country. I w^as living in the city, with my sister.

Mr. McTiGUE. After you returned from NKVD headquarters, and
after you signed the paper, agreeing to spy on your relatives, your
friends, and your professors, did you then carry out that assignment?

Mr. Banionis. When I signed the paper, they told me that next

52975 — 54 — pt. 1 18



262 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Thursday I should come to a place to meet an agent who was going to
give me information on how I shall spy.

Mr. McTiGUE. This was the NKVD agent you were to report to on
Thursday for instruction?

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you report to him ?

Mr. BxiNiONis. I reported to him. I met him. I didn't write any
report for him.

He gave me some instructions as to who I was supposed to spy on.

Mr. McTiGUE. What did he say, briefly?

Mr. Banionis. He said that I should spy on, first, the professors in
the classroom, what they are talking about, what they are thinking,
what people they are meeting and how they like the Communist
regime.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you to bring these reports in writing ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. I should bring the reports in writing and sign
it with a name not really my name.

Mr. McTiGUE. After you received instructions from the XKVD
agent, did you then start to report on your professors and your
friends ?

Mr. Banionis. At first I talked with my good friends who were
arrested together with me. We made an agreement that we shall give
such repoits that nobody would be hurt.

Mr. McTiGUE. And you and your friends who also had been ar-
rested and who had also signed the papers got together ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you not afraid that one of your friends might
betra}' the other?

Mr. Banionis. We trusted each other, and we took a big risk of
our lives. If someone told that we were spying, we might be arrested
again by the NKVD and be sent to prison in Russia.

Mr. McTiGUE. Don't the Communists have in the schools people
known as comsorg, who are students, themselves, and who are of the
hard core of the Communist Party, as distinguished from students
like you who are pressed into service?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. That is the Communist youth organization?

Mr. Banionis. So far as I know, in each school there was some such
man, comsorg. He was watching the relationships in the school,
the professors and the students. He organized meetings for the
Communists.

Mr. McTiGUE. He attended your classes?

Mr. Banionis. No, he didn't attend the classes. Just sometimes
M'hen something happened in the classroom. When the people are
singing national songs, Lithuanian songs, then he would be there for
sure.

He would go to professors' meetings to watch over there.

Mr. McTiGUE. Would the NKVD agents from time to time come
into your classroom and out of a clear, blue sky ask one of the students
to accompanying them to police headquarters for questioning?

Mr. Banionis. That is right. Not just in my class, but in all the
school tliat happened many times.

Tlie secret police would come to the school and pick up a student
for questioning in the NKVD building.



: BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 263

Mr. MoTiGUE. Getting back to j^our own case, after you talked to
the agent, did you then start to submit reports to him ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. I gave him such reports, for example, that
my professor can:ie in the class and vras talking about the lesson. Not
about communism or politics.

I gave such reports, you know. It just mentioned tlie daily work
of the professor. Nothing about politics or anything that would be
aganist the Communists.

Mr. McTiGUE. You just gave general reports that were not harmful?

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGTJE. And did the other students with whom you talked,
tlie otlier spies, do tlie same kind of thing?

Mr. Banioxis. The}' do the same kind of thing.

Mr. JNIcTiGUE. So, as a consequence, nobody was hurt by your re-
ports up to this juncture?

Mr. Banioxis. No.

Mr. McTiGUE. But you can't say that other students who were im-
pressed into service didn't submit harmful reports?

Mr. Baxioxis. I don't know about that, because it was very secret.
I don't knovr. I didn't see tliose reports that the other boys were
making.

Mr. McTiGUE. The otiier boys had special NKVD agents they had to
report to regularly?

Mr. Baxioxis. Yes. They had to report regularly, too. There were
many agents who were meeting those students. I was going alone
from my classroom to this agent. Other students were going to
another agent.

Mr. McTiGuE. Were you students not afraid of eacli other? Were
you not distrustful of what your fellow classmen might say or do?
Was there not an air of distrust and suspicion in the classroom ?

Mr. Bax^ioxis. We were very afraid. Just those of us who trusted
each other, we were not afraid of each other, but we could not trust
all of them.

]Mr. McTtgue. You reported, then, to the NKVD agent regularly.
Tell us something about that.

Mr. Baxioxis. Wlien I wrote the second report, it was of interest
to my agent.

I gave him the report and I watched my agent. He went first to
drink a beer in the restaurant.

Mr. McTigue. You followed the agent, yourself?

Mr. Baxioxis. I followed him myself, instead of his following me.

jNIr. McTigue. You followed him to his room ?

Mr. Baxioxis. To his house, to his home.

Mr. McTigue. And did you go up into the room ?

]\Ir. Baxioxis. Not at that time, but after a couple of days I knew
everything about my agent. He was before a student, and then he
was a comsorg in another high school.

Mr. jMcTigue. Was he a member of the Young Communist League
before the Russians seized Lithuania ?

Mr. Banioxis. I didn't see his papers, but as far as I know, he
was.

Mr. McTigue. That was his general reputation?

Mr. Banioxis. Yes.



264 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Mr. McTiGiTE. "V\niat happened after you followed the NKVD
agent to his home, and learned where he lived ?

Mr. Banioxis. I learned where he lived, and who he was. After
a couple of days, I took a bottle of whisky and went to him.

Mr. McTiGUE. Why did you take the whisky ?

Mr. Banionis. Because I knew that he was a heavy drinker.

I took a bottle of wdiisky, and went to his apartment. He was
surprised to ree me; he did not expect me. I told him, "Listen, I
am "

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you and the agent sit down and have something
to drink, together ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. I made myself like a drunk. I put some
whisky on my clothes and I made just like a drunk man, and having
a bottle of whisky, I gave it to him. He refused to drink at first,
but then he drank w^ith me, too. He w^as afraid that I had come to
him

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you two sit down and drink for a good part of
the night?

Mr. Banionis. Maybe 2 hours.

Mr. McTlGTJE. What did you say to him after the 2 hours of
drinking ?

Mr. Banionis. I said, "You shall help me now. If you don't help
me, I am going to report to the NKVD that you were drinking with
me. You are an agent. You are an employee of the NKVD. You
will be arrested and sent to the prison, too, along with me."

Mr. JSIcTiGUE. Because he had sat down and drunk with you, and
because you and he had sat in the room and were friendly?

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGUE. You have now succeeded in turning the tables on
him and putting him in fear ?

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGUE. The basis being that if you report him to the NETVD,
because of this association, he would be in trouble ?

Mr. Banionis. That is right. He was afraid.

Mr. McTiGUE. Now that you had the agent in your hands; what
happened then ?

^Ir. Banionis. Then I break 2 or 3 weeks. I didn't go with my
reports. I didn't meet him. I didn't give him any more reports.
Afterwards, I was looking for somebody who told my sister — at my
home I got many times telephone calls asking for me. One time I
was at home, and the telephone rang. It said, "You are Banionis?"
I said, "Yes, I am at home."

Then, there was no conversation. He just wanted to know if I
was home.

Ml-. McTiGUE. These are other agents, then ?

Mr. Banionis. I don't know. I didn't know from the voice.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you continue to report on your schoolmates and
your relatives and friends, even though you had the NKVD agent
where you wanted him ?

Mr. Banionis. Pardon me?

Mr, McTiGUE. Did you continue to submit reports on your friends,
to this NKVD agent after you had done the drinking with him ?

Mr. Banionis. One time I gave him the reports. Then I stopped
the reports.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 265

Mr. McTiGUE. You went to hi^^h school in Kaunas ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you also work ?

Mr. Baxioxis. I worked in the raih'oad construction department of
Kaunas, in the office, as a junior draftsman.

Mr. McTiGUE. You worked in the daytime, and went to high school
at night?

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGUE. Wliat were your hours, just for the record ?

Mr. Banionis. From 7 o'clock in the morning until 3 o'clock in the
afternoon. From 4 o'clock until 11 o'clock at night I w^as going to
school.

Mr. McTiGUE. You had a pretty full day ?

JNIr. Banionis. That is right. I tried to keep busy.

Mr. McTiGUE. In June 1941, were you a witness to the deportations
wliich started ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes: I witnessed the deportations. My friends and
I were walking on the same street as was the police station that night,
at maybe lip. m. We saw many trucks of soldiers around the police
station and around the street. We hid in the garden and we
watched it.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you afraid they were coming for you ?

Mr. Banionis. The first time, no. About 2 or 3 o'clock at night
the trucks started to leave the police station and go on search.

I tlieii went home. I heard one truck coming at my house, but that
truck went to another house, the third or fourth house. I was jump-
ing in the garden and watching what was going on.

After an hour, maybe, they took the people from that house.

Mr. McTiGUE. You saw them take this family out ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was it a family ?

Mr. Banionis. It was a family. A man, a woman, and two children.

Mr. McTiGUE. They put them in the truck and took them away^

Mr. Banionis. They put them in the truck. There were a couple
of soldiers and one civilian.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did they ever arrest anybody or deport anybody
from the apartment house in which you lived ?

Mr. Banionis. Xobody. Just one friend was missing, as I said
before.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did they have the occasion to arrest a painter in
3'our apartment at one time?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. "Why did they arrest him ?

Mr. Banionis. They arrested him, together with me, the first time.
In searching, they found the caricatures of Stalin. He had drawn
Stalin like a dog.

Mr. McTiGUE. This painter was a caricaturist, and he painted a
dog, with Stalin's head on the dog ?

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGTjE. What happened to him ?

Mr. I>anionis. During the search they found such paintings, you
know. They didn't let him go out — this man didn't come out.



266 BALTIC STATES IN\'ESTIGATION

His parents came and tried to reach liim in prison, but they said
after a couple of weeks they could not reach him. He might be
sent to Kussia.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was he ever seen again ?

Mr. Banionis. Never seen again.

Mr. McTiGUE. After the investigation started, did you continue
working ?

Mr. Banionis. I continued working, but on the 15th of Jvuie, 1941,
I came to work and I missed my chief of office and assistant. They
were two engineers. They were deported that same night, on the
14th and 15th of June.

Mr. Kersten. Railroad engineers ?

]Mr. Banionis. They were engineers in the office for construction
work.

Mr. McTiGUE. They were construction engineers ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes, construction engineers, from my department.

Mr. McTiGUE. After you found out they were missing, and when
they no longer reported for work, what did you decide to do ?

Mr. Banionis. I never slept at home. Sometimes I went to the
country by train, or sometimes I slept with my friends. I knew that
the Russians almost always took people at night. They made arrests
during the night.

Mr. McTiGUE. They always came during the night ?

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGUE. You were afraid in the night and not in the day?

Mr. Banionis. Not in the day. On the streets they didn't want
to arrest. They did it in the homes at night.

Mr. McTiGUE. What did you do after that ?

Mr. Banionis. After that I was hiding myself, most of the night
time and waiting to see what would happen.

The students felt that tliey should start a war. We knew from the
Russian speeches they were preparing for war.

Mr. McTiGUE. Do you mean with Germany ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes, with Germany. Then we just waited.

When the war broke out this morning, they were very happy. They
were jumping and dancing, you know.

JSIr. McTiGUE. What did you do then ?

Mr. Banionis. The next day I joined the Lithuanian guerrillas in
Kaunas.

Mr. Kersten. That is the anti-Communist partisans?

Mr. Banionis. Yes,

Mr. Kersten. Did you fight the Russians in those last days, with
the guerrillas ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. I was in one groujj and was going to bring
ammunition. The Russians started to shoot me, you know. The peo-
ple ran into their houses. They were running away from the Ger-
mans through our city, through our capital, Kaunas.

Mr. McTiGUE. Those are all the questions I have, Mr. Clmirman.

Mr. Kersten. Congressman Bentley?

Mr. Bentley. Why were you originally arrested in November 1940?

Mr. Banionis. They picked i"^ up from the cemetery, as one who
organized the coming to the cemetery. They said. "You students are
always organizing a demonstration against the Communists. You
work aii'ainst the Communists.''



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 267

He picked me out — I don't know for what reason he expected me
to be a spy. I don't know.

Mr. Bentley. Wlien you were being examined in prison, were you
questioned by Russians or Lithuanians ?

Mr. Banionis. I was questioned by Russians and Lithuanians.

I couldn't speak so well in Russian. Then they gave me to the
Lithuanians.

Mr. Bentlet. The Lithuanian Communists?

Mr. Baniokis. That is riglit.

]Mr. Bentley. In addition to the scars whicli you have shown the
committee, you were beaten on the back of the neck, I believe?

Mr. Banionis. I was beaten here [indicating] ancl hit in the face.

He said, "You are lying.'' I said, "No." Then he beat me.

Mr. B'EXTLEY. Were you beaten at any time with a gun ?

Mr. Banioxis. "When I was going to the NKVD, the Russian sol-
diers stuck me with a bayonet, not too hard, in my back.

Mr. Bentley. During the questioning, were you beaten with a gun
at any time ?

Mr. Banionis. Just the one time, you know.

Mr. Bentley. When you were hit in the face, it was with the hand?

Mr. Banionis. Yes, just with the hand.

Mr. Bentley. Did they make any threats against your relatives,
your family, during the questioning?

Mr. Banionis. No; they didn't ask so much about my relatives.
Just around the school. The scliool was more important.

Mr. Bentley. During the time you were supposed to be turning in
these reports, working as a spy for the NKVD, did you receive any-
thing? Did you get any pay or did they give you food cards or
anything like that ?

Mr. Banionis. No, nothing.

The agent who I met, he was paid.

Mr. Bentley. I congratulate 3'ou on the wa}' you turned the tables
on this NKVD agent.

I suppose you gained the impression that basically they weren't very
intelligent?

Mr. Banionis. This man was intelligent. I got him in my hands.

Mr. Bentley. He knew which side to play on.

Now, this family you saw deported one night, do you know why
they were deported ?

Mr. Banionis. I didn't personally know these people, but I knew
they were employed some place.

Mr. Bentley. You don't know why he was picked up for
deportation ?

Mr. Banionis. They were just like all the other Lithuanians. I
didn't know any special reason.

Mr. Bentley. When they were being taken oft', were they allowed
to take anything with them? Did they take any baggage or any-
thing ?

Mr. Banionis. Maybe a couple suitcases.

Mr. Bentley. I was impressed with what you said, that they
always come at night to do these things, because, after all, when you
think of Soviet actions, w^hether it is cleportations or almost anything
else, wherever they can tliey prefer to work under the cover of dark-
ness, do thev not ?



268 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Mr. Banionis. That is right.

Mr. Bentley. As far as the Soviets and the Communists are con-
cerned, they always prefer to work where other people can't see their
dirty cleeds, or at a time when people can't see their dirty deeds?

Mr. Banionis. They were afraid to do anything in the light.

Mr. Bentley. That characterizes communism everywhere, doesn't
it?

Mr. Banionis. That is right. The same methods they use now, and
that they have used in other countries. I understand that from what
I read in the newspapers.

Mr. Bentley. When did you leave Lithuania ?

Mr. Banionis. I left Lithuania when the Russians came back.

Mr. Bentley. In 1944?

Mr. Banionis. In 1944. I was thinking about being a guerrilla, a
partisan again but I talked with my friends and we left, because the
Russians were too strong.

Mr. Bentley. Were there any partisans who stayed behind after
the Russians came back?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. My good friends — I know many of my good
friends, they were partisans. I knew they had ammunition and every-
thing prepared to be partisans. My brother, I got my brother here in
the United States, too. He came with me, too.

The last time, those last 3 days when we left Lithuania, he came to
me and he told me, too, that maybe we should stay and go to the forests
and fight for our country. But then we left Lithuania.

Mr. Bentley. Then you came to the United States in 1944?

Mr. Banionis. I came in under the Displaced Persons Act.

Mr. Bentley. I know that you are very happy to be here today.

Mr. Banionis. That is right. I am very happy today, here, because
I can tell everything. I am not afraid. You know, maybe some peo-
ple are afraid. I could be afraid in another country. I tell the truth
and everybody believes me.

Ml". Bentley. I am very glad to have you here today and hear your
testimony. That is all.

Mr. Machrowicz. Before you were arrested in 1940, were you en-
gaged in any political activity?

Mr. Banionis. No. In Lithuania, I was just a Boy Scout.

Mr. Machrowicz. Were any of your family engaged in political
activity ?

Mr. Banionis. No. My brother was a Catholic priest.

Mr. Machrowicz. That is the one who is here in the United States
with you now?

Mr. Banionis. No ; he is still in Lithuania.

Mr. Machrowicz. Have you been hearing from him ?

Mr. Banionis. I got a letter from my mother in 1950.

Mr. Machrowicz. You don't know where your brother is now?

Mr. Banionis. No. I don't know. Just one single letter I got
through one relative, an American citizen.

Mr. Machrowicz. Do you know whether he is being permitted to
engage in his church activities, now ?

Mr. Banionis. So far as I know from the newspapers, from the
Lithuanian newspapers, and from the Catholic priest, his church
was closed in 1952.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 269'

Mr. AL\CHROWicz. So that po far as you know, your brother, the
priest, is not being permitted to engage in church activities ?

Mr. Banionis. No ; I don't think so, because he was being watched
by the Russians, too, at the same time being in Lithuania.

Mr. Machrowicz. This difliculty in Lithuania was after the elec-
tions ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. Machrow^icz. Those were elections that the Russians claimed
to be free elections in a free country ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes; they claimed that.

Mr. Machrowicz. This was a time when Russia was telling the
world that Lithuania was free and independent.

Who were the oifficers who surrounded the cemetery, the Lithuanians
or Russians?

Mr. Banionis. It was the Russians and the Communist secret police
agents.

Mr. Machrowicz. By Comnnmist secret police, do you mean Lithu-
anian Communists or Russian Communists?

Mr. Banionis. There were many Russians in civilian clothes, too,
and there were Lithuanians, too.

Mr. Machrowicz. This was all at a time when Stalin was telling
the world that Lithuania was not controlled by the Russians, but by
Lithuanians ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. At the same time they made a big lie.

Mr. Machrowicz. Your arrest was taken care of by Russian of-
ficers, also ?

Mr. Banionis. By Russian officers, and I was taken to tlie NKVD
prison by Russian soldiers.

Mr. Machrowicz. And all of your investigation was conducted un-
der the supervision of Russians ?

Mr. Banionis. That is right. And the Russians watched how the
agents did their jobs and sometimes they beat the prisoners, too.

Mr. Machrowicz. What was the occasion of this affair at the ceme-
tery ?

Mr. Banionis. It was the occasion of a memorial day in the ceme-
tery.

Mr. Machrowicz. You went to the graves of whom ?

Mr. Banionis. We came to the graves of our friends or relatives.
I didn't have yet relatives in this cemetery, but we were visiting the
graves of our great people, like Dr. Basanavicius, and like Pilots
and Darius and Gireenas.

Mr. Machrowicz. These people you mentioned were national
heroes ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes. Our national heroes across the ocean.

Mr. Machrowicz. You say there were about 200 arrested at the
cemetery at that time.

Do you know how they selected these 200 from the larger group?
Was there any method they used in selecting them?

Mr. Banionis. They broke in the cemetery at first and took a couple
of people. Then other people, they resisted. They didn't get .to
arrest them all because there were so many people.

Then they started to arrest at the gates as separate people came
through the gates. Then they would take one and let some go.



270 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Tliey didn't pay any attention to who the men were they took.
Those people were not merely students. There were employers and
workers from factories. They had on dirty clothes. They were
coming from their work and they w^ent around to the cemetery.

Mr. Machrowicz. They didn't select any particular group, but
anyone they could get hold of ?

Mr. Banionis. Yes.

Mr. Machrowicz. Do you know what happened to these 200 people ?



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 33 of 75)