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

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I thought I lost my hands, but even without that, I wanted to live and
see what happens further.

Then I turned my head a little bit and I looked around to see what
was going on. I saw one soldier standing in front of a fence and I
turned around and I saw a terrible picture of dead fellows, or dead
prisoners.

That one soldier, or guard, I would call him, he stood there until
it started to get dark. Some fellows who were lying close to the
corners of the barracks and wanted to escape, he shot them. He
didn't shoot anyone who didn't stand up or start to move, but those
who started to escape, he shot them.

Before dark he himself got scared and he started shouting for his
comrades, but no answer came, so he shot a couple shots into the air
and again shouted, "Here is a Russian," but still lie got no answer.

He told us, "You lying here who are alive, I will go and see where
iny commander is. I will bring him back. We will look over your
files and bring back to Kaunas."



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 323

When he turned around and made a couple steps, all who were
alive stood up and ran away. I ran away into this swamp. There
were places with squares, with walls built up to let water from one
square to another. I spent all the night in the swamp.

In the morning we noticed one plane circling around the camp and
he kept going out and dropped something from the plane onto that
small city of Pravieniskis. That was a village or community, Pravi-
eniskis was.

Then I saw one guard coming from the Pravieniskis city into these
barracks, and he saw us. He called and told us we can come to the
camp and get some food if we want, and there was nobody around.

Mr. McTiGUE. You retuurned to the camp then ?

The Witness. I was returning to the camp. When I came close
to the camp, on the corner where the fence ended, I looked to the
picture. I couldn't stand up. When I came I looked at that terrible
sight, and on the side were lying 3 or 4 Russian soldiers. They were
shot, too. I presumed why they were shot was the argument about
those 25 percent alive that they mentioned.

I turned around and I went home.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were all the people there dead, the boys and the
old men ?

The Witness. I didn't see, but when the Red Cross came in there
the second day they said they found still alive badly injured people.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did they find any United States citizens among
that group ?

The Witness. Yes. I used to sleep in a room with four United
States citizens who were in the United States for some time, and they
came back, built up a textile factory. I mean, they made their living.

Mr. McTiGUE. Do you recall who they were and where they came
from in the United States?

The Witness. No ; I don't know exactly where they came from in
the United States, only what I read in the papers, that Dosdautas,
he was from Boston. I only read in the papers that he was from
Boston. I didn't know exactly where they came from.

Mr. McTiGUE. What papers did you read that in ?

The Witness. I think that was in the Lithuanian paper.

Mr. IVIcTiGUE. And who were the others that you can recall?

The Witness. I know the names. His son was a good friend of
Strimaitis. Then there was Garsva and Strimas.

Mr. McTigue. Mr. Witness, when did you leave Lithuania?

The Witness. On July 6, 1944. I left my hometown, Kaunas.

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

Mr, Kersten. Congressman Bentley ?

Mr. Bentley. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman, except to point
out that the account given by this witness is very strikingly parallel
to an account of testimony I heard last week given by an American
GI who escaped a similar fate in a North Korean prison camp. The
two instances are strikingly parallel.

I have no questions.

Mr. Kersten. Congressman Machrowicz ?

Mr. Machrowicz. I don't know whether you explained, Mr. Wit-
ness, just what these people who were in this camp and were massacred,
what were they charged with, or were they charged with anything?



324 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

The Witness. As I mentioned, 60 percent were criminals ; 70 per-
cent or 60 percent. I don't want to underestimate or overestimate.

Another 30 percent were what they consider political, but to be a
political prisoner in there, you have to wink or to close not the right
eye.

Like I, or other ones

Mr. Machrowicz. What were you charged with ?

The Witness, I don't know.

Mr. Machrowicz. Do you recall any overt acts that you performed
with which you were charged ?

The Witness. I was only near the place where there was an argu-
ment about communism, among another group of fellows who seemed
to be Communists. I was invited to the prosecutor's office to sign a
slip that I will be held under his supervision in prison No. 1. That
is all that I know.

Mr. Machrowicz. I might say that during the Washington hearings,
this committee was able to obtain a photostatic copy of an actual
warrant showing the offenses these people were charged with, and
one, for instance, was charged with singing non-Communist songs
in public.

The Witness. That is enough to make you a political prisoner.

Mr. Machrowicz. In other words, if you are caught singing a pa-
triotic Lithuanian song, you are subject to the death penalty?

The Witness. Well, they can do even that.

Mr. Machrowicz. Were these people in the camp all Lithuanians,
outside of the four Americans that you spoke of ?

The Witness. They were American citizens, but they were Lithu-
anians.

Mr. Machrowicz. They were Americans who had returned to Lithu-
ania ?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. Machrowicz. Outside of them, were there other nationality
groups ?

The Witness. I saw two men, they were in the Polish Army. Wlien
they retreated from Poland — I mean, when war started with Germany
and they were retreating, they came to Lithuania, but I don't know
why the'y were in there, you see, because to find out from the criminals
and other persons, that is a very hard job, because no one will tell
you the truth and you can't believe everything that they say. So I
wouldn't know why they were there.

]Mr. Machrowicz. You referred in your testimony to the fact that
these people were shot with dumdum bullets.

Now, some who haven't had experience in World War I or World
War II may not know what a dumdum bullet is. Will you explain
what a dumdum bullet is ?

The Witness. Yes. A dumdum bullet is — for example, if you were
shot through the shoulder, somewhere in this part and the bullet comes
out on the back, it opens all your flesh.

If the bullet goes through your head, you will be sure to lose half
of your slvull.

Mr. MAciiROwacz. Isn't it true, Witness, that a dumdum bullet is a
bullet with a flat head instead of a sharp head, and it explodes in the
body and remains in the body, thereby causing greater suffering?



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 325

The Witness. I don't know. I haven't seen the dnmdum bullet.
I saw only the result of the dumdum bullet. I don't know how they
explode or where they explode.

Mr. Maciirowicz. I have had experience with dumdum bullets and
I know what they are. The effect of a dumdum bullet is to create
much more agony and torture.

The Witness. I saw the people without half their skull and with
a plain, open back. You could see the lungs, and coming through your
stomach — I mean, that was something terrible.

Mr. Machrow^cz. The only purpose for using a dumdum bullet
would be to cause more suffering and torture. Is that correct?

The Witness. I don't think you could cause any more suffering and
torture to that man. There was no reason to use those dumdum bul-
lets because they intended to kill and massacre and that is what they
did.

Mr. BoNiN. Mr. Witness, you said you spent the whole night after
this massacre in the peat pits ?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. Then, in the morning, you say you returned to the
camp ?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. And you also stated that you saw four dead Russian
soldiers.

The Witness. Yes, sir, I saw it.

Mr. BoNiN. Were there any other Russian soldiers around there
at that time ?

The Witness. No. I say I came just to the corner and I looked at
that terrible picture, or sight, and I couldn't stand it. I turned around
and went home.

Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I could have been more useful if
I had stayed in there. I saw everything, and maybe I could have
helped the Red Cross and those who were interested in that thing,
but that is the first time I have ever testified to this thing. This is the
first time in my life.

Mr. BoNiN. You witnessed all the people who had been killed there?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. And then you decided to return to your home in Kau-
nas?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. Did anyone follow you, or did anyone come after you
at all?

The Witness. No, there was nobody to follow me, because when I
went in that morning, I stopped by a farmer to get milk. I got the
milk. When we were going back home, one farmer asked us to help
to dig a grave for the killed Russian soldiers. There was a truck
turned over with 19 or 20 soldiers killed.

So we decided to help him to dig that grave. In the meantime, we
were passing the German soldiers, already. One German officer was
wondering why we were without hair. He stopped and asked the
farmer if they are Russian soldiers. He said "No." He asked if we
are from here, from this place. He says "No." So pointing to one
man, he says, "He is from this place?" He says "No." The German
took him.

52975 — 54 — pt. 1 22



326 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Another one they took him, and then, I don't know why, but when
the German soldier pointed to me and the farmer asked if I am "from
here, he says "Yes," and so I stayed in there.

From that point, I didn't want to help him — I mean, I apologized,
I can't help, because I didn't want any trouble, and then I went alone,
home.

Mr. BoNiN. In other words, that massacre took place just before
the Germans started coming through there ?

The Witness. Yes. The Germans were behind, already. I think
on Tuesday or on Wednesday, the Germans were in the temporary
capital, Vilnius.

These soldiers massacred in that prison. I don't know who they
were, but they were retreating.

Mr. BoNiN. Do you mean the Russians were retreating?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. That is the reason, then, there were no Russian soldiers
around the day that you were able to get to the farmhouse and then
eventually back to town ?

The Witness. No, there were no Russian soldiers at all. I met only
German soldiers in there.

Mr. BoNiN. Thank you very much.

Mr. Madden. You stated that after the massacre, after the shooting,
the prisoners were lying down on the ground, most of them killed, and
the Russian soldiers hollered, "Those that are alive, stand up," and
4 or 5 stood up ?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. Madden. Did you hear some shots, then ?

The Witness. Yes, sir. I forgot to mention, near me was lying a
man who moved — I mean, I didn't see what happened, but I felt the
steps of the soldiers and I heard a terrible shouting or crying of the
man who was, as I later noticed, bayoneted. They bayoneted not one
of them, but many of them. I could see only from the wounds that
near me were about 3 or 4 bayoneted. They were still alive and were
bayoneted.

One man who had an open back — and he wasn't bayoneted. He was
left for torture.

Now, I recall, he was asking me to go to his father and mother in
his hometown and to tell them that he was shot and to give his regards
to them, and after maybe 5 or 10 minutes, or 15 minutes — I don't
know — he died.

Those who weren't killed, but were badly injured, they weren't
finished. Those who were not shot or injured, they wanted to kill
them, only, because the other ones who were injured, they were crying
or asking for them to finish them. They didn't.

Mr. Madden. Did some of these executioners use small trench-
digging shovels ?

The Witness. What for, trench-digging shovels?

Mr. Madden. To split their heads?

The Witness. As I say, I didn't see. I was lying on the ground,
my face down, with a mouth full of sand, and I didn't see that. I
don't know if they were doing this.

Mr. Madden. Tliat is all.

Mr. Kekstkn. You were not charged, yourself, witli any regular
crime which would place you in this group, is that correct?



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 327

The Witness. No.

Mr. Kersten. You say there were some people ordinarily charged
with crime and who were criminals, and others who were not?

The Witness. Yes.

Mr. Kersten, And you were among those not charged with a crime ?

The Witness. That is right.

Mr. Kersten. A so-called political prisoner?

The Witness. Well, what I would call political.

Mr. Kersten. The Germans came in right after the Communists
retreated, is that correct? It was after the Communists had gone?

The Witness. I mean, I wasn't there. The Eed Cross came a day
after the shooting.

The help came on a Friday from another small town, Rumiskis.

Mr. Kersten. Except for a few soldiers, the majority of these
people were civilians, were they?

The Witness. Yes, they were civilians.

Mr. Kersten. You were in Lithuania during the elections of June
or July 1940?

The Witness. Yes, I was, during the elections.

Mr. Kersten. Were you in Kaunas, at that time ?

The Witness. Yes, I was in Kaunas.

Mr. Kersten. From your experience there at that time and later,
would you say that the Lithuanian people in any way wanted the
Communists to come in and the Soviet Union to take them over?

The Witness. I can state only one thing. The parliament was
elected after one night. The deputies saw their pictures hanging
on these signs, on the walls and other places ; that he was a deputy.
He didn't have a chance to learn by himself from the officials or
something that he was elected ; only by reading the sign he found out
that he was a deputy.

Mr. Kersten. Now, my question was as to the people. Insofar as
you know, what was the feeling or will of the people as to whether
they wanted to go into the Soviet Union or not ? That is my question.

The Witness. No one wanted to go into the Soviet Union.

Mr. Kersten. Did you ever see anybody there, or talk to any or-
dinary citizen, who was not a Communist, who wanted to go into the
Soviet Union ?

The Witness. I didn't see any of them.

Mr. Kersten. At any time you were there ?

The Witness. No.

Mr. McTiGUE. That is all I have.

Mr. Kersten. That is all, Mr. Witness. Thank you.

Mr, McTiGUE. Is Mr. Brazeika in the room ?

Mr. Kersten. You do solemnly swear that you will tell the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God ?

TESTIMONY OF JONAS BRAZEIKA, DETROIT, MICH.

Mr. Keksten. Do you understand English ?
Mr. Padalis. No, he doesn't.

Mr. McTiGUE. Will we have to use an interpreter with him?
Mr. Padalis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Jurgela, will you act as interpreter for this
witness ?



328 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Will both of you stand up ?

(Both the interpreter and the witness arose.)

Mr, Kersten. Mr. Jurgela, you do solemnly swear that you will
truly translate from Lithuanian into English such answers as this
witness gives to you, so help you God?

Mr. Jurgela. I do.

Mr. Kerstex. Now will you translate the oath to him : You do sol-
emnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth, so help you God ?

Mr. Brazeika (through interpreter). I do.

Mr. Kersten. Will you state your full name ?

Mr. Brazeika. Jonas Brazeika.

Mr. Kersten. Are you from Lithuania ?

Mr. Brazeika. From Lithuania.

Mr. Kersten. What part of Lithuania are you from?

Mr. Brazeika. From Ukmerge.

Mr. Kersten. Were you in the room, here, as the last witness
testified ?

Mr. Brazeika. Yes, I was here, too. I was sitting here.

Mr. Kersten. Did you understand what he talked about?

Mr. Brazeika. Very little. Very little.

Mr. Kersten. Will you tell us whether or not you were among a
group of several hundred people, most of whom were shot in a prison
camp at Pravieniskis, on or about June 26, 1941 ?

Mr. Brazeika, Yes, I was there.

Mr. McTigue. Were you among those at the camp who Avere shot ?

Mr, Brazeika, Yes, I was.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you shot?

Mr, Brazeika, Yes, I was being shot at.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you bayoneted?

Mr. Brazeika. They bayoneted me.

Mr. McTiGUE. Will you take your coat off and show us.

Is that where you were shot ?

Mr. Brazeika. Here I was shot through. The bullet came out here
(indicating under the armpit of the right arm) . Here was the bayo-
net wound (indicating the right elbow).

They were in a hurry. They had no more time to shoot.

Mr. McTiGUE, After you were shot and after you were bayoneted
and after you were apparently left for dead, did you escape, as did
the anonymous witness who testified just before you this morning?
Did you escape into the woods?

Mr, BRiVZEiKA. I escaped when no single Russian was left around.
It was 12 midnight.

Mr. McTiGUE, Mr, Chairman, we have heard most of this story from
ihe anonymous witness. We have put on this witness to corroborate
(he testimony.

Mr. Jurgela. The witness just told me, point to his right-hand
finger, and said when he was in prison his right-hand fingers were
broken. Some instrument was put between the fingers and broke
them. They were torturing him. These two fingers are bent as a
result of tliis wound [indicating the bayoneted elbow wound] and this
finger was broken [indicating the middle finger of the right hand],

Mr. McTiGUE. Mr, Brazeika, what were you charged with when
you were arrested and sent to this prison camp ?



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 329

Mr. Brazeika. I do not know what they charged me with. They
also brouglit some papers, showing that I had been a vohmteer in the
Lithuanian Army, that I had fought against tliem at Daugavpils, and
they found in my reservist certificates that I had been a volunteer in
the army.

Mr. McTiGUE. I want to leave this for the moment.

Mr. JuRGELA. He was a volunteer in 1919.

Mr. Machrowicz. Twenty-two years before the massacre.

Mr. McTiGUE. I want to leave this incident for a moment and go
back to the time when you were arrested in Kaunas, in the fall of
1 940. Do you remember that ?

Mr. Brazeika. I do remember.

Mr. McTigue. After you were arrested, what happened to you ?

Mr. Brazeika. What happened? We used to be in such a cham-
ber [motioning with both hands] and prisoners used to scribble on
the walls, that, "The next day I'll be taken out to be shot."

At midnight they used to come in and remove some prisoners. They
used to tie their hands behind their back. They used to take out 10
men from 1 cell, 10 men from another, at midnight.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did there come a time, Mr. Brazeika, when you were
put to work as an orderly or assistant of some kind in the iDasement
of NKVD headquarters in Kaunas ?

Mr. Brazeika. I was an orderly of Colonel Caplikas in the Lithu-
anian Army.

Mr. McTiGUE. I don't think the witness understood my question.
Let me rephrase it :

Mr. Brazeika, were you assigned to a job in the NKVD headquarters?

Mr. Brazeika. I was made to work in the prison.

Mr. McTigtje. What kind of work did you do ?

Mr. Brazeika. I used to saw the wood and used to toss out the
corpses through the window, straight into a parked truck.

Mr. McTiGTjE. Was one of your jobs to remove the corpses from the
NKVD headquarters every day ?

Mr. Brazeika. Not from the headquarters. From that cellar where
the people had been tortured to death. In the cellar.

Mr. McTiGUE. How many corpses did you remove every day ?

Mr. Brazeika. I cannot keep the count. I can't say definitely.

Mr. McTiGUE. Would you say it was 10 or 20 or 30 or 40? Have
you any idea ?

Mr. Brazeika. In a day, about 50 ; not every day.

Mr. McTigtje. Some days you say 50, and other days not quite 50 ?

Mr. Brazeika. Less than 50 some days.

Mr. McTigtje. Mr. Brazeika, did you have occasion to witness

Mr. Brazeika (interposing). Some days I did not work at all at
that. I just cut wood.

Mr. M TiGUE. Did you have occasion at any time to witness NKVD
tortures on other people ?

Mr. Brazeika. Yes ; I worked there. I have seen it.

Mr. McTigtje. How did you happen to see it ?

Mr. Brazeika. They themselves used to point out, and say, "See,
that same tiling is going to happen to you. It is going to be like that
to you. Look at it."

Mr. McTigue. And you can testify that you actually witnessed
some of these tortures ?



330 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

Can you tell the committee what they consisted of, what they were ?

Mr. i3RAzEiKA. They used to tear up fingernails. They cut up their
noses and the ears. They used to beat the soles of their feet. You
Iniow, it is a long time ago. I have lost some memory. My memory
suffered, you understand. A lot of it has gone.

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

Mr. Brazeika. I have to think about it to remember.

Mr. Bentley. Did you know any of these people who were being
tortured ?

Mr. Brazeika. No ; I did not know them.

Mr. Bentley. Do you mean in all these bodies you took out, you
never saw anybody you recognized or knew who they were ?

Mr. Brazeika. No ; I did not know any of them, but I used to recog-
nize whether they were a priest or a friar. You know the friars, the
monks. I would recognize the priests. They were dressed as priests,
and I could recognize that. I could recognize from their clothing.

Mr. Bentley. How had they usually been killed, by torture or by
shooting, or how ?

Mr. Brazeika. By tortures. I have seen several times also, the
hangings.

Mr. Bentley. How many people would be hanged at a time ?

Mr. Brazeika. One at a single time.

Mr. Bentley. Where was this done?

Mr. Brazeika. In the cellar, in the prison.

INIr. Bentley. How were they hanged? Were they dropped, or
strangled, or how ?

Mr. Brazeika. They stood up erect and then they would pull a rope.
I have seen them pull the rope, and the man was dead.

They used to close the door during the hangings, and we could see
only through the loose boards. We could see part of the scene.

Mr. Bentley. And these people who were killed, the ones that
you can recognize, were some people who were priests ?

Mr. Brazeika. Yes. I would recognize the priests, more or less.
I could also recognize people who were probably students or officials.
There used to be individual workmen. You could see by their clothes.

Mr. Bentley. You were present, or you were able to see some of
the tortures that were going on ; is that correct?

Mr. Brazeika. Yes; I have seen it. I used to work there.

]\Ir. Bentley. Were these interrogations or were they just tortur-
ing them for the fun of it, or what ?

Mr. Brazeika. They used to be brought out from interrogations.
They used to be interrogated first, driven to prison, and then from
the ])rison taken down for torture.

Mr. Bentley. Now, during the interrogation, wdiat were they trying
to find out or have them confess ?

Mr. Brazeika. I could not hear the interrogation. They were
brought here to the prison. They used to tell me, "We have been inter-
rogated today."

Mr. Bentley. I am trying to find out what the questioning was
developing.

Mr. Brazeika. These people did not tell me that.

Mr. Bentley. Then, as far as you know, you just knew of the tor-
tures, but you didn't know the reason ?

Mr. Brazeika. I could only say what they asked me.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 331

Mr. Bentley. Let's have that.

Mr. Brazeika. They brought out my reservist's certificate. They
would say, "Wliy were you working at the headquarters ?" They said,
"Why couldn't you transmit information to us?"

That is about all. Then they placed a lamp above my head. I was
pushed into a corner, and then they slammed the door against me.
T could neither stand erect — I could only stand in the crumpled posi-
tion, I could not actually sit down, and this heated lamp was above
my head until I fainted. And when I recovered they asked me, "Well,
aren't you cold now ?"

Mr. Bentley. I think that is all. We have had, unfortunately, too
many similar experiences.

Mr. Kersten. Congressman Bonin ?

Mr. Bonin. How old are you now ?

Mr. Brazeika. I am 58 years old. I have a passport.

Mr. Bonin. What is your occupation at the present time ?

Mr. Brazeika. I work in a cemetery. I am a grave digger. For
the Russians I did that work, too. Such is my fortune.

Mr. KJERSTEN. It seems to me the grave diggers are the only ones
w ho survived these occupations.

Mr. Brazeika. I worked with the Communists, the other grave
diggers.



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