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

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rifle and the third has a pistol.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 313

I jumped from the bed and went to the window. I put my face
on the window and a Russian came up at the same time. We looked
at each other, face to face. I saw his figure, liis rifle, his cap. I just
jumped back to the w^all and said to the other fellows, "Russians."

Everybody jumped from the bed. Nobody could find shoes. We
were really nervous.

On that road, about 40 yards from there, there was a mass of the
Red Army moving. They were talking. I just heard voices. They
were calling each other by name, and artillery was moving by horses
and the infantry was passing by. But those men, the first one I
faced — there were about 10 or 12. They were working about our
house and knocking on the doors and windows, asking to have the
door opened.

Before we got our shoes, and got all dressed, I took my submachine
gun, left off the safety, putting the magazine in. I had about 300
bullets. I distributed them to one fellow who had a pistol. Those
bullets fit that pistol. We just decided not to get close to the window.
They would put matches up and see who was inside. The poor men
were jumping, and not knowing what to do.

The Russians didn't wait too long. In about a half hour they
brought a Lithuanian woman. She spoke Lithuanian and said to
that landlord — and that landlord and three children and a woman,
they were crying and praying to God, and saying, "Now, in the last
minute they will burn our house. What can we do ?"

I said, "Just be quiet. Don't say anything."

Then that woman outside called and said, "Listen; don't worry.
They are Russians. They won't do anything wrong to you. Just
open the door and let them get in, because maybe there are some
hidden Germans and guerrillas." That is exactly w^hat there was.
There were about four guerrillas.

Then, at that same time, that mass passed by, but those 12 or 14
Russians still surrounded our house and were walking around. Three
took a light machinegun and put it close to the barn. There was
woods about 20 yards from that house. They made a little retreat.
Others were still walking and the woman was asking to open the
door.

Tlien we noticed that the mass passed by, and we suddenly told
the landlady, "Listen. Let those Communists get through the kitchen
and we will try to escape through the road where the Red army just
already passed."

It just happened so. Our guns were ready, and w^e were just
lucky that she put a lock on there. We struck a match, opened
the lock, and we escaped. There was no shooting from our side or
their side. We escaped about 200 yards.

Then on October 4, there was one already frozen. He was without
shoes. I had a leather jacket and, not a T-shirt but an undershirt —
what I could find, that's all. But he was without shoes and just a
jacket. We escaped through the woods and, at the same time, we
noticed tw^o lights. Somebody was striking matches and smoking
cigarettes. We talked among ourselves. AVe said, "Listen, you are
without shoes. Go find what is there." He went there. He came
back and said, "There are two Russian patrols, smoking cigarettes."
Then we made a circle around and just not too far from that house
where we slept



314 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Mr. Kersten. Let me ask you this : How long after that was it that
you left Lithuania ?

Mr, Armalis. That was still in Lithuania.

Mr. Kersten. Did you leave Lithuania after that?

Mr. Armalis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. How long after that?

Mr. Armalis. This was my living, continuous living. This is how
T left. The Russians were already ahead.

Mr. Kersten. Where did you go to from Lithuania ?

Mr. Armalis. I was taken, as all refugees, mostly, across the Ger-
man border, into Little Lithuania, which was under German occupa-
tion.

Then, I got into Germany. Well, I got in some kind of labor
group.

Mr. Kersten. Did you remain in Germany in this kind of occupa-
tion until after the war was over?

Mr. Armalis. Would you repeat that question, please?

Mr. Kersten, Were you in Germany until after the end of the
war?

Mr. Armalis. No, in Germany and Austria, until February 1945.

Mr. Kersten. Then what happened ?

Mr. Armalis. Then from Innsbruck, in Austria, I met some Fran-
ciscan fathers, and escaped into Italy.

Mr. Kersten, This is before the war ended ?

Mr, Armalis, That is right,

Mr, McTiGUE. Did you emigrate from Italy to the United States?

Mr. Armalis. That is right.

Mr. McTiGUE. When was that ?

Mr. Armalis. December 10, 1948.

Mr. McTiGUE, Those are all the questions I have, Mr. Chairman,
except for one comment: Mr. Armalis is again taking an examina-
tion, but under somewhat different circumstances. He had a final
examination at the University of Detroit at 3 o'clock today. I think
he has to return at 5 o'clock.

Mr. Armalis. No, I had two finals. One is for Air Force ROTC.

Mr, McTiGUE, He was good enough to make haste down here at 3
o'clock in order to be on hand to give this testimony.

Mr, Kersten, Congressman Bentley?

Mr, Bentley. Mr, Armalis, when was this guerrilla band first
formed ?

Mr. Armalis. It was formed during the Russian occupation,

Mr. Bentley. In 1940 ?

Mr, Armalis, It was 1940, and a little before, I would say.

Mr, Bentley, And you left it in October 1944? That is when you
got out of Lithuania ?

Mr, Armalis, That is right.

Mr. Bentley, Do you know if there are any members of this guer-
rilla organization that stayed behind?

Mr, Armalis, Where?

Mr, Bentley, In Lithuania ?

Mr. Armalis. Yes. We were persuaded to remain in Lithuania,
and to be like hawks. Our name was Hawks, That means we have
to stay in the woods, to have communications, not to do anything
against the Red army, not to execute but really to catch Communists



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 315

each night and go back to the woods. We really had hopes of a better
political situation. We were hoping that Great Britain or the United
States would land in our port and take over.

Mr. Bentlet. When you left Lithuania, other members of your
organization did stay behind in Lithuania?

Mr. Armalis. Yes ; three friends of mine — tliey were in Lithuania.
I forgot to mention when I got the letter from my mother, she said one
of them died in a hospital. The second took a course in the Russian
language, and the third went to find a better job, from the farm, into
town, in the city.

Mr. Bentley. That is the three members of your organization who
are still there ?

Mr. Armalis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Congressman Machrowicz?

Mr. Machrowicz. No questions.

Mr. Kersten. Congressman Madden ?

Mr. Madden. I have just one question : How did you finally get out
of that house ? They came in one door and you went out the other ?

Mr. Arjsialis. That is right. They all entered through the door
of the kitchen. They opened the door and came in. When we heard
the sound of Russians already in the kitchen, we just opened that door,
striking matches, pulling that lock, and escaped, two by two. My
submachinegun was still open, but we hadn't heard any shots from
the Russians.

Mr, Madden. You cleared out through the woods ?

Mr. Armalis. That is right.

Mr. Madden. That is all.

Mr. Kersten. How many members were there of your family
before the Communists came?

Mr. Armalis. There were four. Father, mother, grandmother,
and sister.

Mr. Kersten, You had a sister ?

Mr. Armalis, That is right.

Mv. Kersten. Your father, mother, and grandmother?

Mr. Armalis. And grandmother.

Mr. Kersten. Was your sister older, or younger ?

Mr. Armalis. She was younger.

Mr. Kersten. Was she deported?

Mr. Abmalis. No, she is still in Lithuania. I think so, but I don't
know.

Mr. Kersten. She didn't get out?

Mr. Armalis. She didn't get out. Wlien the parents were deported,
she was jeft alone, because she was studying to be a nurse at that time.

Mr. Kersten. What date were your father and mother deported;
do you know ?

Mr. Armalis. "\Ylien I got the letter in Italy — that was in 1944 —
they were already deported.

Mr. Kersten. You don't know exactly when ?

Mr. Armalis. No, I don't know. A couple of letters I got from
home, from my parents' home.

Mr. Kersten. They were deported in the second occupation ?

Mr. Armalis. Yes, after a couple of years of the second occupation
had passed already.



316 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Mr. IvERSTEN. The Communists came for a year, and the Germans
were there until 1944, and then the second Communist occupation.
Then it was during that time that your parents were deported ?

Mr. Armalis. Yes. I think it was 3 years until they were deported.

Mr. JMadden. Did you ever hear any more from any of those people
in that cattle train when you went down there that afternoon ?

Mr. Armalis. No ; I did not.

Mr. Madden. Nobody in your hometown ever heard anything from
them again?

Mr. Armalis. Nothing at all.

Mr. Kersten. How many people would you estimate were in those
cattle cars, and in the train ?

Mr. Armalis. I think at least 40.

Mr. Kersten. In each car, you mean ?

Mr. Armalis. The people I talked to in those cars.

Mr. Kersten. In those cars, or on the whole train ?

Mr. Armalis. I can't estimate for the whole train.

Mr. Kersten. About how many cars ?

Mr. Armalis. About 20 that I saw.

Mr. Kersten. We thank you, Mr. Armalis. Your story corrobo-
rates stories that we have heard before.

We will adjourn at this time to reconvene at this place at 10 o'clock
tomorrow morning.

(Whereupon, at 4:30 p. m., the hearing recessed, to reconvene in
room 1018, Federal Building, at 10 a. m., Tuesday, December 8, 1953.)



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION



TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1953

House of Representatives,

Baltic Committee,

Detroit^ Mich.

The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 :20 a. m., in the Federal
Building, Detroit, Mich., Hon. Charles J, Kersten (chairman of the
committee) presiding.

Present : Messrs. Kersten, Bentley, Bonin, Madden, and Machrowicz.

Also present : James J. McTigue, committee counsel ; and Constan-
tine R. Jurgela, of counsel.

Mr. Kersten. The hearing will come to order, please.

I will state at this time that we have had with us yesterday, and
previously in New York, Mr. Jurgela, who has been of counsel with
regard to Baltic matters and Lithuanian matters.

Mr. Counsel, we have the first witness, here.

Will you raise your right hand, please? You do solemnly swear
that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
so help you God ?

TESTIMONY OF AN ANONYMOUS WITNESS

The Witness. So help me God.

Mr. McTiGUE. Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a veiy brief
statement as far as this witness is concerned. He insisted on being
anonymous. He insisted on not having his identity known.

As a consequence, he has put on a mask. It was at his insistence
that this procedure was adopted.

Mr. Kersten. I might state that, as previously stated, the com-
mittee will do everything within reason to protect any witness con-
cerning whom there is reasonable ground to believe that there is
danger of reprisal by virtue of his testimony.

From your investigation and from your conversation with this
witness, is that the situation?

Mr. McTiGUE. That is correct, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Machrowicz. Mr. Chairman, might it not be proper to make
a note in the record that the committee does have in its files the cor-
rect name and address of this witness and of previous witnesses whose
anonymity was preserved yesterday, for our own records?

Mr. Kersten. I think that is very proper, Mr. Machrowicz.

Mr. McTiGUE. Mr. Witness, are you a resident of Detroit ?

The Witness. Of Dearborn.

Mr. McTiGUE. Why are you afraid to testify in open session of the
committee without a mask ?

317



318 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

The Witness. Because I have relatives left in my own native
country.

Mr. McTiGUE. You have relatives there?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Do you recall June 16, 1941 ?

The Witness. June 26, it was.

Mr. McTiGUE. June 26, 1941?

The Witness. Yes, sir.

Mr. McTiGUE. What happened on that date ?

The Witness. On that date, it started about 11 o'clock, or before
noon. We were locked in the bairacks.

Mr. McTigue. Before proceeding, will you tell us where you were
born ?

The Witness. In Lithuania.

Mr. McTiGUE. Proceed with your story.

The Witness. That day we w^ere locked in the barracks and there
were two barracks. At noontime, I noticed another one

Mr. McTiGUE. You were taken to a forced-labor camp, were you
not?

The Witness. Yes, sir.

Mr. McTiGup. Where was it located ?

The Witness. It was near the capital, Kaunas. It was located 26
or 27 miles from Kaunas.

Mr. McTiGUE. How many prisoners were confined in that camp?

The Witness. Five hundred; a little bit more or less. I would
say 10, more or less.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were they all Lithuanians ?

The Witness. Most of them were Lithuanians. There were a couple
Polish and Russian soldiers, but the Russian soldiers were released
on Sunday when the war started.

Mr. McTiGUE. There were Lithuanians and some Polish soldiers?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were these people who were confined here guilty of
major offenses or minor offenses?

The Witness. I don't know exactly, but I could say only about 60
percent in that camp were criminals, and 40 percent were political
prisoners. In this camp were people sentenced to not more than 3
years to serve in the labor camp.

Mr. McTiGUE. What kind of work did you and the other prisoners
have to do in this camp ?

The Witness. It was the manufacture of peat.

Mr. McTiGUE. You were sent to work digging peat, were you?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. In the swamps surrounding the camp ?

The Witness. A couple days I was turning over the peat to dry in
the sun, and I put them together into big piles. We built piles of this
peat to dry.

Mr. McTiGUE. How old were you at tliis time, approximately ?

The Witness. Approximately 18 years old.

Mr. McTiGUE. What was the age of the prisoners, the political
prisoners ?

The Witness. The political prisoners, from 16 years old, or 15 years
old, one was, to 75, or 80, even.

Mr. McTiGUE. They ranged from 15 years of age to 75 ?



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 319

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you or any of the other prisoners given any
kind of special punishment if you didn't happen to meet your work
quota, or otherwise displeased the camp administrators?

The Witness, If you did not meet your workday, or the norm,
what you were supposed to do, you were given less food.

If you were sick — not so sick that you should lie in bed, but like you
had on your hands swollen places from working, or on the feet, you
were punished by being sent into a room without a window, only a
frame of iron window, which didn't have any glass or screen, and in
that room you were naked and left for 2 or 3 days and in that camp
there were many mosquitoes. I would say that was a terrible
punishment.

Mr. INIcTiGUE. Were you placed in that room ?

The Witness. No ; I wasn't. I came into the camp on the 22d of
June. I was 5 days working and 4 days not working. We were
locked in before the massacre.

Mr. McTiGUE. Now, did the massacre about which you are to submit
testimony happen shortly after June 22, 1941?

The Witness. That was on Thursday, I am pretty sure.

Mr. jNIcTigue. It was approximately the 26th of June, to the best of
your recollection ?

The Witness. Yes, sir.

Mr. McTiGUE. Tell us what happened on that day, please. This
was after the war with Germany started?

The Witness. Yes. On June 26.

Mr. McTiGUE. Tell us what happened, please.

The Witness. At noontime, we noticed — I can't recall now — 1 or 2
soldiers. They came around sneaking and looking at what was going
on in the camp. So after 15 minutes or so, they disappeared.

In another hour or half hour, the thing I heard was shots and
they started shooting from the side of the forest. We all dropped on
the floor and started to hide.

Mr. McTigue. Now, let me go back for a moment. The Kussian
soldiers came in and took the prisoners out in the yard, did they?

The Witness. I come to this point — I mean, that is how it all
started.

After the soldiers left, 2 soldiers or 1 soldier was looking around,
only, and they disappeared.

After a half hour or 1 hour, we heard only the shots. We were in
the barracks and we dropped on the floor. They kept shooting.

Mr. MgTigue. Into the barracks?

The Witness. Into the barracks, because nobody was outside.
Then the fire stopped. The thing I saw was a group of soldiers com-
ing out of the forest. We were forced to come out of the barracks.

Mr. McTigue. You were then taken out of the barracks?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. McTigue. How many of you ?

The Witness. In that barracks were about 380 people or 400.

We were taken out to the yard. There was a big fence around with
three wires. With hands up, we were ordered to stay still in there.

Then the soldiers brought out another man, what I would call
privileged — not privileged, but they had to do something with ma-
chines and so on — helping hands.



320 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Mr. MgTigue. Trusties?

The Witness. No; I wouldn't say trusties, but just like mechanics
and other things. They were in another barracks because they had to
go earlier to their work and they had it a little easier, I would say.

Mr. McTiGUE. How many of them were there ?

The Witness. Forty or fifty.

Mr. McTiGUE. Three hundred of you in the main barracks and about
40 in the other barracks ?

The Witness. Three hundred eight in the main barracks and 40 or
50 in another barracks.

They were lined in front of the fence.

Mr.'^McTiGUE. Was anybody taken from the administration bar-
racks ?

The Witness. I will come to this point, too.

Then they ordered these employees and their wives and kids to
come out.

Mr. McTiGUE. The employees of the camp ?

The Witness. Yes. They were brought out to the yard, behind
the fence. Then there was a barn, like a farmer's. They had a small
farm in there and they took care of that. They brought these men,
too, in front of the fence.

After this came an armored car and another car — I don't rem.ember
now, a couple cars, another kind — I don't recall what kind they were.

They started to talk to prisoners. They talked with the employees
and then he turned around and talked to us. In the meantime, they
shot the employees and their wives and kids.

Mr. McTiGUE. They shot their own employees?

The Witness. They short their own employees and their wives and
kids.

Mr. Kersten. Who did the shooting?

The Witness. Kussian soldiers.

Mr. MoTigue. Didn't the employees protest beforehand and say that
they were Communists, that they were employees and so forth?

The Witness. I don't know if you could find in the Kussian dic-
tionary a word which would be described as a protest. There is no
protest at all.

Mr. McTigue. I stand corrected on that, I am sorry.

In any event, they did shoot the employees ?

The Witness. They shot the employees' families, and even the dogs.
There were two dogs and they shot them.

^Vlien the commander told to other guys, or fellow prisoners — ^he
ordered the soldiers to come and search us. I don't know what for
they search, but it seems for the weapons. But they could see very
good that we were prisoners and didn't possess any weapons. Nothing.

After the search, he ordered the soldiers to come out. I was at that
time close to the gate. I knew the Russian language and I wanted
to hear what they talked about.

Other guys said, "We are Communists; we are by mistake here.
We are impressed by the Smetona, or the earlier regime."

Mr, McTigue. By President Smetona?

The Witness. Yes. They said, "Maybe they overlooked our files,
or something, but we should be released," they said.

I think he didn't care what they said, and he said, "Massacre them."

Mr. McTiGUE. Shoot them?



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 321

The Witness, Shoot them.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did they shoot them ?

The Witness. So I started to go back. After the first shot, I
dropj)ed down on the ground. And all the shooting lasted about — I
can describe it as minutes, but to me it seemed like a long time. It
might have been very short. I would say between 15 minutes and a
half hour.

Mr. McTiGUE. HoAv did the}- mow these people down, with sub-
machine guns or with rifles ?

The Witness. I forgot to mention that point.

When he said, "Shoot them," and the soldiers start lining — like here
was a fence, they started lining up the machineguns. They lined
them up, the soldiers, and they started shooting.

I was withdrawing, at the lime, back. It happened to be my luck,
I laid down — right in here was some kind of small hill that is sup-
posed to be for flowers.

Mr. McTiGUE. A kind of a mound ?

The Witness. Yes. I laid just behind that mound.

After that shooting almost stopped, I heard the Russians among
themselves arguing. One I heard saying, "I can be sure that they are
25 percent alive." And I heard a couple shots. I don't know to which
direction they were fired. So they decided to go and look around to
search; see who is alive. They came in sight and asked the people
who are alive to stand up.

And can you believe me, about 3 or 4 guys stood up. I was lucky,
I say. I was young, and the nerves I could hold.

Mr. McTiGUE. Just take your time, Mr. Witness.

Mr. Kersten. How far out of the city of Kaunas was this place,
Mr. Witness?

The Witness. About 27 miles it is.

Mr. Kersten. Is there some name ?

The Witness. Pravieniskis.

Mr. Kersten. About how many people were involved in being shot
at there, the victims ?

The Witness. As I know — I mean, after the Red Cross investi-
gated, they found that with the injured, there was alive maybe about
30.

Mr. Kersten. I mean, how many were killed, all told?

The Witness. 470 or 480.

Mr. Kersten. How many would you judge, of those 470 or 480,
were children or youths?

The Witness. Youths, I would say the most prisoners put by the
Russians were between 17 and 23 — 25 years old.

Mr. Kersten. Were there any younger than that there ?

The Witness. One I remember was 15 years old.

Mr. Kersten. About how many women were there, do you know ?

The Witness. There were no women except the employees' wives.

Mr. Kersten. How many wives of employees?

The Witness. Four or five.

Mr. Kersten. How many emploj^ees?

The Witness. About seven.

Mr, Kersten. Were these seven employees Lithuanian Communists?



322 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

The Witness. Yes; they were Communists, some of them. Some
of them, I wouldn't say they were Communists, but the chief and his
assistant, they were real Communists, and they were desperate men.

Mr. Kersten. That chief and his assistant, were they shot ?

The Witness. That I forgot to mention. You see, when the fight-
ing started from the forest, before everything started, and the wheels
started to go around, we saw the chief running away through the
woods. He ran away. But later on he was imprisoned and sentenced
to death.

Mr. Kersten. Do you mean after the Communists left ?

The Witness. When the Germans took over.

Mr. McTiGUE. You were telling us, Mr. Witness, before, that the
Russian guards said that all who are alive, stand up. You said some
stood up.

Wliat happend to them ?

The Witness. Just plainly, they shot them. Now, I can recall one
man who was the barber in the camp — that means a privileged man,
again — and he had a tattoo on him. Here was Stalin, here was Lenin,
here was a Eed Star, and he said, "I would die for Lenin and Stalin,"
you see.

They said, "You would die not for that, but — "

There are some women here so I cannot tell. They said, "You would
die for 'that,' " and they shot him.

In the camp would be betrayers, but even these should go through
all the thing without any exception. After they finished looking, and
I didn't hear any steps or any Russians speaking — —

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you lying still on the ground ?

The Witness. I was lying still on the ground with my ears plugged
and I didn't move at all.

Mr. McTiGUE. How long did you lie there on the ground?

The Witness. I can't describe it in hours, but I would say it lasted
about 45 minutes or 1 hour.

After that search, I didn't hear any soldiers talking or walking
around. Only one thing I heard was complaints from other fellows
who were real badly hurt. They used to shoot with those dumdum
bullets, you see, and some even were asking to be finished off because
they couldn't stand the pain.

After I heard other people talking around, I didn't feel my hands.



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