United States. Congress. House. Select committee o.

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

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Army. I was graduated in the first promotion of the military academy


in Kaunas and fought as a lieutenant in the LithuanianArniy during
the war of independence against the Russian invasion in 1919-20.

Later, wlien Lithuania was recognized as an independent state, I
]iad an opportunity to continue my studies. I attended the University
of Kaunas, Vytautas the Great.

]Mr. MAni)i:x. Mr. Clunnnan, we might mention for the infornui-
tion of the reporter tluit it is very necessary to get the record correct
on tliis, so you shouhl interrupt wiienever you (hjn't knovv' the spelling
of anything.

General Cernius. My major was as an electrician. Then I was sent
by the Lithuanian Government to Belgium, and in 1929 I was grad-
uated as an engineer in Brussels, in Belgium.

Later, I returned to Lithuania. 1 was a captain in those days. I
served in the Army sometimes. Then later, I was sent to a military
college in Paris, France. The French Government admitted me. I
was graduated as an officer in stall'. In French it is called officer d etat
major. I was a major. It was the grade of statl' officer. Then I was
graduated with this degree and received my second promotion and
graduated from the war college in Paris.

1 then returned to Lithuania and served in the Engineer Corps.
Ijater, I was appointed in 19;'>4 as comnnindant of the Lithuanian
Military Academy.

Mr. McTiGUE. Is this something like our A^'est Point?

General Cernius. Yes, it is the same.

M]-. McTiGUE. The military academy to which you were appointed
commandant corresponded to the West Point of the United States?

General Cerxius. Yes.

Then, in the autumn of 1931:, I was appointed as Chief of Staff of
the Lithuanian Army. I remained in this ]:)Osition until the end of
March 1939, when I became Prime Minister of Lithuania.

Mr. McTiGUE. While you were Prime Minister of Lithuania, Gen-
eral, was the Lithuanian Government asked to execute, or enter into a
mutual assistance pact with the Soviets?

General Cernius. It was during my government.

Mr. McTiouE. When you were Prime Minister?

General Cernjus. When I was Prime Minister.

Mr. McTiGUE. Will you tell us something about that, please?

General Ci:rxius. If you will allow me to say the situation in the
Baltic States and Europe in this corner — war started in 1939, Sep-
tembei- 1.

Mr. McTiGUE. When the Germans invaded Poland ?

General Cernius. Yes; the Germans and Soviet Russia — Soviet
Russia IT days later, because Soviet Russia could not mobilize so

This was made in accordance with a secret treaty made by Ribben-
trop as representative of Hitler, and Molotov, representing the Soviet

Gei-many came from west to east, and Russia from east to Avest.
Poland was crushed.

In this same agreement which was made between Germany and
Russia on August 23, 1939 — that is, 7 days before the war — in this
agreement there was a secret protocol by which the Baltic States,
including Lithuania and Poland, were divided by the so-called line
of influence. In the course of this, Estonia and Latvia went to Russia.


Lithuania remained in German influence and Poland was divided into
two parts.

Mr. McTiGUE. That is what the first secret protocol called for be-
fore the war ?

General Cernius. Yes. This agreement was a green light to start
the World War.

Now, when Poland was finished, the Soviet Government made the
first treaty of mutual assistance with Estonia,

After a couple weeks, the same treaty was made with Latvia, and
in the third place, I was, as Prime Minister, asked to come to Moscow
for negotiations. They said so. We had a feeling this negotiation
would be something very bad for Lithuania.

They promised neutrality — to respect our neutrality. All the
Baltic people proclaimed themselves neutral from the start of the war,
and Russia promised to respect our neutrality. However, we had the
feeling that they would not respect that neutrality.

The situation for Lithuania was unsettled. Li the north there
was also a Soviet garrison installed in Latvia, and in Vilnius and
vicinity there was the Soviet Army, and on the south there was also
Ilu'=^sia. The latter was near Augustow.

We were uncertain from the north, from the east, and partially
from the south. On the west side was Germany, but Germany was
unfriendly in those days. Germany was a partner — in accordance
with the secret agreement — with Russia.

Now, on September 28, 1939, nearly 5 weeks later than the first
agreement, Ribbentrop had a second secret protocol. By the second
secret protocol, the first agreement was little changed. In that,
Stalin consented to give more of Polish territory to Hitler, but he
took Lithuania — not all, but bigger parts of Lithuanian territory —
for himself, but only some, Suvalkija, that part south of the Memunas
River. Then this part would be in the influence of the Germans.
Lithuania was divided in two.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was it in the second secret protocol that the Soviet
paid Hitler a certain amount of gold?

General Cernius. That is in the third one.

Now, after the second agreement that placed Lithuania in such a
situation in a circle, with Germany not friendly, Estonia and Latvia
had Soviet garrisons installed, Poland was finished, and in such a
situation the Government of Lithuania was invited to go to Moscow
for a negotiation.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you receive a telephone call from Moscow or
a note?

General Cernius. Yes, a telephone call, and our minister said,
"We have our representative in Moscow, Dr. Natkevicius."

Mr. Kersten. Let me interrupt at that point to ask this question :
In New York, when former President Herbert Hoover was testifying,
we showed him a photostat of a map of eastern Europe, including
Poland and the Baltic States, the original of which was in the Ger-
man Foreign Office. I have this photostat here, too, and I want to
point out that it exactly corroborates your statement. This photo-
stat — and I might state that I saw the original map in England and
had this photostat made — bears the original signature of Stalin and
the original signature of Ribbentrop, dated September 28, 1939.
This was the final agreement to which you referred, which threw


Lithuania into tlie Soviet sphere, and divided up Europe for the
final green light for World War II.

General Cernius. That is right, but Germany had taken a little
part of Lithuania for Germany. Later, after some months, there was
a third agreement. Then the Soviet Union paid compensation for

Mr. Kersten. So the lives of these people were traded for the gold —
Soviet gold — to Hitler.

General Cernius. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. That is the way these two dictators cut up Eastern
Europe secretly between themselves, Stalin affixing his personal signa-
ture to this map, and Von Ribbentrop affixing his.

General Cernius. Exactly.

Mr. Kersten. Followed by a protocol agreement signed by Molotov
and Ribbentrop.

General Cernius. Exactly.

Mr. McTiGUE. General, after the invitation from Moscow, did you
go to Moscow ?

General Cernius. No.

Mr. McTiGUE. What happened ?

General Cernius. We had a Cabinet meeting at President Sme-
tona's. He presided in this meeting. It was decided that it was
better not to send the Prime Minister himself, but to send a delegation
of three persons; namely, the chairman of this delegation, Minister
Urbsys, the Minister of the Foreign Office of Lithuania, and my
Deputy Prime ]\Iinister, Mr. Bizauskas, and the representative of the
Army, General Rastikis.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did this commission. General, have the authority to
execute the pact in Moscow?

General Cernius. They had the authority on negotiation, but they
were not given such a paper to sign an agreement, because we sus-
pected they would force them to do something very bad. So at the
time, we only gave them authority for negotiation. They had no
power to sign, at first.

When they came to Moscow, they gave a pact of mutual assistance,
exactly the same text as that made with Estonia and Latvia, with
some little difference.

Lithuania, or our delegation, could not accept. It was impossible
to have a negotiation on such a basis because there was danger of
losing the independence of Lithuania. Then the delegation returns
to Kaunas to consult with the government. We met again and we
elaborated some counter propositions. We said, "We feel we should
do something because it is not possible to get out of this." We con-
sented that the Soviet could send a military mission, but we wanted to
avoid their installing a garrison.

They would install first 100,000 soldiei's, an army.

Mr. McTiGUE. In Lithuania?

General Cernius. Yes ; in Lithuania. After long negotiations, they
consented to 20,000. They said they would not interfere with Lith-
uanian internal affairs; that they would respect Lithuanian inde-
pendence; that they would not interfere with our cultural and eco-
nomic life.


Then vre mentioned in this treaty that they would respect the treaty
of peace made in Moscow in 1920 when they renounced all pretension
to this territory. In 1920, it was a completely separate people.

It was such a situation that finally they showed to our dlegation —
this is the first time they knew about this division. Now, I can tell
about this secret ao:reement, but in those days we didn't know exactly.
We had some feelino; that something wrong was done between the
Nazis and the Soviets, but not exactly.

Then our delegation was shown the map. They said, "All right,
if you will not agree with us, you will be divided."

Mr. McTiGUE. They said, '^Take it or leave it?"

General Cernius. Precisely.

Then the delegation came to Kaunas to consult. We met together
to determine what to do. We had terrible pressure from all sides.
We had been encircled. The Government took into consideration that
for a small state like Lithuania, it was impossible to win by fighting.
We had a feeling that they might be with us after the war — because
the war had only started in those days — that they mi^ht be well-
organized otherwise and Lithuania will again be able to wm independ-
ent life, but temporarily, there was no other possibility and we should
have this pact of mutual assistance.

So it met before Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania, and 1 year later,
Poland. After signing this document — it was ratified — I had signed
the ratification.

Mr. McTiGUE. You signed for the Lithuanian Government?

General Cernius. Yes, because according to our constitution, the
Prime Minister is responsible.

If Ivussia would respect this treaty, then we would be in such a
position that, well, France and Belgium and Holland, when the Amer-
ican and English armies passed through to fight, they could come in.

But it was different with Russia. When Russia came in, until
now, we have no occasion when Russia should go out without forcing

They started to violate this agreement. First they started to inter-
fere in our internal affaii's.

Mr. Kersten. Which they, just a short time before that, had in
writing promised not to do ; is that right ?

General Cernius. Yes. They had written it very nicely on paper, in
this document which we signed.

Mr. Kersten. They had used very good words and promises.

General Cernius. Yes ; very good words and promises.

Mr. Kersten. And right after they made those promises

General Cernius. Yes. For some months they respected them.
But when France was crushed, in Lithuania we had to look at the gen-
eral situation of war. When France was crushed, then they sent
ultimatum to Lithuania, but I had resigned at that time. They sent
it to my successor, to Mr. Merkys.

Mr. Kersten. Did they send the ultimatum the same day France

General Cernius. Yes; the same day that France was crushed.
The first ultimatum for negotiation and for making a pact of mutual
assistance, and then Poland was crushed. The second ultimatum-
occupation and abolition of Litlnuiuian legal government, and install-


merit of puppet Communist government. That installation was made
when P'rance was crushed.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you continue as Prii)ie Minister thereafter?

General Cernius. I resigned — I was 8 months Prime Minister. I
resigned November 22, 1939. So the ultimatum was the second ulti-
matum when they come with their whole army. It occurred during
the ministry of Mr. Merkys, who was later deported with his wife.

Mr. McTiGUE. You were Prime Minister from March 1939, until
November 1939?

General Cernius. November 22, 1939.

Mr. McTiGTJE. And why did you resign ?

General Cernius. First, it was because the Soviets started to vio-
late this treaty and since there was no other protest — the war was on,
there was no help coming from anybody so the only way to show dis-
satisfaction was to change the Prime Minister. Maybe with a new
person and a new face, they would do something better.

So, Mr. Merkys was made Prime Minister, but if you will read the
record, it was the same.

For instance, General Musteikis, he was also Minister of Defense in
Mr. Merky's cabinet.

Mr. McTigue. You resigned, although a great many of the cabinet
ministers stayed on?

General Cernius. Yes, they stayed. It was only to show that some
thing happened, that Lithuania was not content, because they started
to violate this pact. They started to make different accusations, that
we had stolen some soldier.

Mr. McTiGUE. Kidnapped soldiers?

General Cernius. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. After you resigned as Prime Minister, what did
you do, General ?

General Cernius. In accordance with Lithuanian custom, when I
became Prime Minister, I should resign from the army. Then later,
one day — November 23 — I was again appointed to the army, but only
because General Pundzevicius, the chief of stalf, he was my successor,
and he was in the position of commander of the First Lithuanian In-
fantry Division.

Mr. McTigue. The day after you resigned as Prime Minister

General Cernius. I returned to the army.

Mr. McTigue. You returned to the army as commander of the
First Lithuanian Infanry Division?

General Cernius. Yes.

Mr. McTigue. What happened then, General ?

General Cernius. The events during Merky's term, when they re-
ceived the ultimatum. On June 14 or 15, 1940, this ultimatum,
through which they occupied our country, came about. They occu-
pied every village, every town, and every city. There was plenty of
the Russian army.

Our President Smetona fled abroad. He came to the United States
and died.

Then Minister Merkys was dismissed because he can do nothing
with Russia, because he saw that Russia would violate the agreement
completely. He dismissed — the President had appointed General
Rastikis to mke a new government.


Mr. McTiGUE. The provision government?

General Cernlus. Yes.

I was invited to be Minister of Defense by General Eastikis.

I said over the phone that we could do nothing. I was not in Kaunas
in those days. He said, "We will try to do everything possible."

There was installed the so-called puppet regime. The regime of

Mr. Kersten. He is the Communist puppet? He was at that time?

General Cernius. I knew him personally before, in Lithuania. He
was sometimes invited to the Embassy of the Soviet Union in Kaunas.
He was editor of a newspaper, but he didn't play the role of com-
munism. But it seems he was a Communist.

Mr. Kersten. He was a secret Communist, and he is the present
Communist dictator there, isn't he ?

General Cernius. Yes. He was appointed by Russia. It was a

Smetona said, "I cannot get people for government; Moscow tells

Mr. McTiGuE. You were the commander of the First Lithuanian
Infantry ?

Geiieral Cernius. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. At this time were you permitted to go ahead with
your command without interference?

General Cernius. One ultimatum was received by the government.
The army received an order not to resist. It was a decision of gov-

Mr. McTiGUE. This was June 14, 1940?

General Cernius. Yes, 1940. The situation of the war was such —
you know what happened later. The Soviets became allied against
the Nazis. Before they were partners and helped the Nazis. It was
the decision of the government of Merkys to accept this ultimatum.
He was forced to accept the ultimatum.

The army received an order from our superior not to resiet. That
meant that the Soviets should go through our country.

Mr. McTigue. Right after the ultimatum and while you were serv-
ing as general, were political commissars then assigned to your com-

General Cernius. Yes. There is the question of how the trans-
formation occurred in the Lithuanian Army.

Mr. McTigue. This is after the seizure and before the election, is
that correct?

General Cernius. The commissar was before the election. Wlien
Paleckis was there and later became Prime Minister.

They started to change the army, but not suddenly. It was little
by little. First, they appointed a political commissar.

I was a commander of a division. A man brought me a paper, say-
ing he was appointed as commissar in the same division. There was
the instruction that I had no more power to give some order alone,
without his signature.

There was installed the political commissar. There were some
chosen of Lithuanian Communists, and later they were replaced by

Mr. McTigue. And who was in or about that time appointed chief
of stall' of the Lithuanian Army ?


General Cernius. Chief of staff, Lithuanian Army — you see, the
Lithuanian Army was until such a moment that there was created
from Lithuanian Army a 29th Territorial Corps — for the Lithuanian
Army that was created.

Mr. McTiGUE. The 29th of June?

General Cernius. No, I think it was in August. It was early in
August. I cannot remember the exact date, but in August 1940.

Mr. McTiGUE. The idea of the Territorial corps was to give the im-
pression that the Lithuanian Army was still an entity?

General Cernius. Exactly. They said what the Lithuanian uni-
form woukl be, what the Lithuanian officer would be, and that the
Lithuanian corps was to go somewhere very far.

In this corps, I was chief of staff. My first division I gave to Gen-
eral Pundzevicius.

Mr. McTjgue. Who took over as chief of staff of the Lithuanian
Army ?

General Cernius. It was the XXIX Corps. It was not called the
Litliuanian Army. It was the XXIX Territorial Corps.

Mr. Machrowicz. The XXIX Territorial Corps of what?

General Cernius. The^^ didn't say, but they said it was Lithuanian

The commandant was Lithuanian and the instructions were given
in Lithuanian. Only that the political commissar was Russia's.

Tlie first commander in chief was Zematis.

Mr. McTigue. Who was he ?

General Cernius. He vras born in Lithuania. However, all the
time he lived in Russia and was a Russian Communist. He is the
same as Rokossovsky in Poland.

Zematis was a]5pointed commander in chief of the Lithuanian Army,
before creation of the corps.

Mr. McTiGUE. Then the point you are making is that the Soviet
would train natives as they did in the case of Lithuania ?

General Cernius. As in the case of Russia.

Mr. McTiGUE. And in the case of Poland ?

General Cernius. Exactly. Poland and Bulgaria.

Mr. McTigue. They were educated and trained in Russia and then
come the takeover, these men are sent in ?

General Cernius. Exactly.

The chief of the political section, as much as I remember him, was
Macijauskas. Also, a Russian colonel in the Russian Army, but born
in Lithuania.

So that they have prepared in advance. They have some Lithua-
nians in Russia, and now they use this possibility to install them, be-
cause they were very obedient to Moscow.

Mr. McTiGUE. General, at about this time, or about June 21, 1941,
the army was completely taken over?

General Cernius. No ; in 1940. It was in 1940 when they took over
because the corps was organized in August 1940. Paleckis was in-
stalled on June 15 or 16. Then, after 3 months, they have made this

Mr. McTiGUE. Completely sovietized?

General Cernius. Completely.

Mr. McTigue. ^Yhnt did you do then. General ?


General Cernius. As most Lithuanian ofiicers and generals, I was
also in this territorial Lithuanian corps and I was appointed as acting
chief of staff of this corps.

Mr. McTiGTjE. By v/hom ? Who appointed you ?

General Cernius. Appointed by the Government, but with the con-
sent of a Russian.

Mr. McTiGUE. How long did you stay in the army, then?

General Cerxius. I stayed in the army until June 17, 1941.

Mr. McTigue. Do you remember what happened on maneuvers in
June 1941 ?

General Cernius. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. What happened?

General Cernius. They met in June, June 15 or 16, 1941, and they
arrested about 300 Lithuanian officers. The arrest was not so simple,
but they sent them to maneuvers.

Later, the Russians return and the Lithuanians disappear. Only
some of the officers escaped, and they told that they were encircled
in the forest by tanks, with soldiers with bayonets, this army, and
there was prepared a special car and they were deported.

Mr. McTiGUE. How many officers were involved ?

General Cernius. About 300.

Mr. McTiGUE. They were surrounded by Russian tanks in the forest
on maneuvers, and deported in cattle cars to Russia ?

General Cernius. Yes.

Finally, in June, for example, 1941, no Lithuanian officers com-
manded a division. And in staff all were replaced by Russians and
half of the soldiers were also from Russia, installed to mix together.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was your brother in that group ?

General Cernius. Yes, my brother Michael was deported.

Mr. Kersten. Have you ever heard about your brother again ?

General Cernius. No. Sometimes they escape and tell about the
difficult situation in the slave camps in Siberia, but about my brother
I have no news.

Mr. McTiGUE. How long after this incident in June, June 14, 1941,
did you remain in your position with the army?

General Cernius. From June?

Mr. McTiGUE. Wasn't it after this incident in June 1941 ?

General Cernius. It was at night, on June 15, when the Russian
colonel came to take my duties.

I have had orders to go to Moscow, as many Lithuanian officers.

They found some lie for deportation. They say, "You should go
to Moscow, to complete your education," or something like that.

Mr. McTiGUE. That was the last thing ever heard of those people ?

General Cernius. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you start for Moscow ?

General Cernius. No. I didn't go to Moscow. I go to Lithuanian
forest and stay hidden.

Mr. MgTigue. How long did vou hide out?

General Cernius. On the 22d started the war between Stalin and

Mr. McTiGUE. The 22d of June?

General Cernius. Yes.

So I return to my birthplace in Kopishtis, as I mentioned before,
and there I worked in a mill, grinding flour, during the German


Mr. McTiGUK. After the Germans occupied Lithuania, what
liappened ?

General Cernius. Then the Soviets came again, wlio we knew by
bitter experience, and many thousands of Litliuanians were going to
the west. Some had triecl tlie Baltic Sea by boat to Sweden, but
finally they were sunk. The others tried through Germany, but they
could not say to tlie Germans they go to the allies. They said they
would go little by little,

I, for example, passed to America before the armistice.

Mr. Machrowicz. You mean you surrendered yourself to tlie
American troops in Germany?

General Cerxius. Yes. I passed by as a civilian.

Mr. McTiGUE. You mean you surrendered yourself to the American
troops in German}^?

General Cerxius. Yes. 1 ])assed by as a civilian.

Mr. McTioFE. You emigrated from Germany to England under
tlie so-called "Westward Ho'* movement?

General Cerxius. Yes.

Then, I was in a camp because I was a dis])hiced person. I worked,
together with tlie English authorities, and later that was changed so
that the Americans would take the otlier occupation zone in Germany
and this zone where I lived, it was the British zone.

Then it was said that I planned to go to England. The displaced
person was not admitted in those days.

Mr. McTiGUE. That was before our Displaced Persons Act?

General Cern^ius. Yes. I lived in England with my son and wife.
AVe were all three together. I got money to buy a ticket. I got a

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 35 of 75)