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

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Canon Petraitis. That is difficult to say. After all, they did not
escape in a single flight of Lithuanians. I know 11 men escaped;
6 of them are dead now.

Mr. McTigue. Out of how many Lithuanians ?

Canon Petraitis. About 115 of them, but there were others — at
Minsk there were others — and we do not know how many were there.

Mr. McTigue. Would you say, Father, that at the end of this death
march, and at the time you escaped, that there was only a handful
remaining alive?

Canon Petraitis. Just a small group.

Mr. Madden. How many about ?

Canon Petraitis. I would be afraid to state under oath.

Mr. Madden. Approximately?

Canon Petraitis. I know 11 Lithuanians that I know of. Well,
if we should accept certain proportions, maybe about 100.

Mr. Madden. One hundred ?

Canon Petraitis. Yes.

Mr. McTigue. That is all I have.

Canon Petraitis. Not more than that.

Mr. Kersten. In this entire group of five to six thousand, were there
many women and children or just a few ?

Canon Petraitis. Mostly men; mostly men. I couldn't say the
percentage of women.

Mr. Kersten. I don't know that I want the exact figures because I
know that under those circumstances it would be impossible to state,
but can you give us some idea as to how many women and children
there were?

Canon Petraitis. I think that about 1,000 were women. The chil-
dren, those littles ones, I have seen one of them, and I have seen
another boy. I heard somebody crying in the rear.

There were a few real small children and those — the teenagers, 12
or 13 years old— there were more of those, and that Lithuanian who
crumpled beside me, he said that he was 17 years old.

Mr. Kersten. Would you say that the casualties— the deaths among
the women and children— were at a greater rate than the men or not?

The Interpreter. I didn't get the first part of the question.

Mr. Kersten. Was the rate of casualties among the women and chil-
dren about the same or more than the men ?


Canon Petraitis. It is hard to say because we could not see what
was taking place.

Mr. Kersten. Were there many women left at the end?

Canon Petraitis. In the column ?

Mr. Kersten. Yes ; among the prisoners.

Canon Petraitis. You see, they tried to accompany people of their
own nationality, so they could speak to eacli other. They did not
march separately. They were mixed among the men.

Mr. BoNiN. Father, apparently this prison camp in Minsk was a
concentration center for all people who offended in some way the
theory and the philosophy of tlie Soviet regime.

Canon Petraitis. It was a formal prison of theirs. It seemed that
a mass of people were attacked there in wartime, when the war broke
out. Otherwise, for Lithuanian prisoners Minsk had been a transit
center. Some people would be kept there on the way to Moscow or
elsewhere. It was a formal prison.

Mr. BoNiN. But it appears as though it was a concentration center
for people who Avere to be either kept there or to be moved on to

Canon Petraitis. Most of them were detained there prior to trial
and after trial they were moved out.

Mr. BoNiN. Were they people who actually committed some crim-
inal offense under the laws of the country they belonged to, or
were they political offenders?

Canon Petraitis. There were all sorts of people, it seems, because
there were some criminals among them, who had short sentences, 3
or more years, more or less.

Mr. BoNiN. Now, I understand that there were a great number of
Polish prisoners in there.

Canon Petraitis. Yes, there were. There were people of all nation-

Mr. BoNiN. People of all nationalities ?

Canon Petraitis. Yes.

Mr. BoNiN. But this was a Soviet prison camp, wasn't it?

Canon Petraitis. A formal prison, it seems to me.

Mr. BoNiN. It wasn't a Polish prison.

Mr. JuRGELA. You said camp. He said is was a formal prison —
regular prison.

Mr. BoNiN. It was a regular prison but not a Polish prison, was it?

Canon Petraitis. No, that was a Russian prison.

Mr. BoNiN. Russian. Apparently, under this Soviet system, they
don't place much value upon a human life, do they ?

Canon Petraitis. Well, you see, life doesn't mean anything to them.
In the cultural world like here in America, they cannot understand
that, and I am not surprised that they cannot understand that. You
see, it is a huge nation. Every nation has renegades, the sadists.

Mr. BoNiN. This is a part of the happiness that the Soviet system
promises all people, isn't it?

Canon Petraitis. They have no happiness. In theory, they pro-
claim it very nicely. They tohl me, to myself, when they came to an-
nounce tliat the teaching of religion was to be suspended, so we began
to teach children religion inside the church, and the NKVD men
came around and brought a paper. He ordered me to sign the paper


that I would not teach the religion anywhere, I would not teach chil-
dren anywhere. I picked up their constitution and I pointed to them
that according- to their constitution there is a freedom of belief, free-
dom of religion. So they told me, "Pay no attention to what is said in
the constitution, but what is saict to you by the Government, by the
Communist Party." He said, "You see what a smart aleck he is. He
is basing himself on the constitution." The constitution is only writ-
ten. It is necessary as an ornament, as a picture, and what the Com-
munist Party orders, that is the obligatory thing, not the reading of
the constitution.

Mr. BoNiN. In other words, the constitution doesen't mean a thing
as far as governing the people. It is what the leaders of the Com-
munist Party say what shall be done ?

Mr. JuRGELA. He said clearly and he said in Russian that the con-
stitution is written for the foolish people.

Mr. BoxiN. Now, Father, I have just one more question.

Do you know from your own experience whether or not an investi-
gation had been made to determine the number of people that were
murdered in this death march from the Minsk prison ?

Canon Petraitis. I heard that during the German rule something
or other was being done, but we couldn't know about it, because we did
not enjoy much freedom under the Germans.

Mr. BoKiN. Then it is unknown whether it has actually been es-
tablished as to the number of people that were killed ?

Canon Petraitis. These natives, the local people, after we were free,
we could get around when the Germans came, so these local people es-
timated variously, some said, "There are 700 corpses," and some said,
^'There are 900," but that the bodies were torn to pieces.

Mr. BoNiN. In other words, this is the first time that this has been
brought forth before some official Government committee or organi-
zation, is that correct?

Canon Petraitis. Abroad, yes, I think so. There was no time to
conduct such an investigation by the Lithuanians, because we had
no freedom as we have freedom here. There were books written
about it in the archives. Something or other has been done. I don't
have the volume of the archives. By that I mean there are several
volumes that are called Lithuanian Archives that have been published
in Lithuania during the German occupation dealing with various
phases of Bolshevik cruelty.

And when he uses the w^ord "archives," or when I use that word,
I mean that publication.

Mr. BoNiN. Father, I sympathize with your tragic experiences
under Soviet domination, and I believe that you have made a valuable
contribution to this investigation.

Canon Petraitis. That is just a little. If I were to state every-
thing regarding their means of interrogation, well

Once they tossed a beaten man into our cell by mistake. I did not
recognize him, but I was not surprised, for there were two good friends
of his in my cell and they did not recognize that this was their friend.

His face was like this [indicating], huge and swollen, you could
see no eyes, except they were all swollen, and they were just small slits.

And there were cuts in his back. The entire body was beaten up.

Mr. Kerstex. Congressman Madden?

Mr. Maddex. Mr. Chairman, I have no questions.


Father Petraitis lias testified here for 2 hours and 15 minutes, and
has related probably the most barbarous procession of atrocities that
the modern world has ever experienced, but your narration. Father,
of these atrocities committed on you and on your countrymen in this
death march is but one of a great number of atrocities that have been
committed by the Communists in the last 13 or 14 j^ears, to my knowl-
edge, because I happened to be a member of the Katyn massacre inves-
tigating committee, and we recorded over 2,300 pages of atrocities
dealing with that massacre ; 2,300 pages of testimony, and your testi-
mony regarding this death march is identical with the testimony that
has been rendered by the boys from Korea that experienced this same
or almost identical treatment from the Communists that was inflicted
against the Lithuanian people.

I might say that in the Washington, Detroit, and New York hear-
ings, the testimony was identical with yours, in regard to massacres
and the barbarous and inhuman treatment that has been inflicted on
the people of Estonia and on the people of Latvia, and on the Balkan
countries. It is a part of the pattern of the Soviet leaders, and your
contribution here today in your testimony tliis afternoon, I think,
when these facts are made known to the millions, and broadcast by
the Voice of America behind the Iron Curtain, that it will give the
underground that are now working behind the Iron Curtain and the
Balkan countries that are under subjection a great deal of encourage-
ment, and the testimony that is being revealed by this committee, I
think, will drive home to the minds of a lot of these fuzzy-minded
people, even in this country that still think the Communist leaders
have some kind of a modern ideology that might be called a system of
Government, when it is nothing more than a brutal, barbarous, crimi-
nal conspiracy, and from the testimony revealed by this committee,
and the other committees of the Congress letting the people of the
free world and also those behind the Iron Curtain know, what com-
munism really is, and that testimony of the kind revealed by you will
eventually sound the death knell to communism.

Mr. Kjersten. Congressman Machrowicz?

Canon Petraitis. I wish to say one more thing. I know what Car-
dinal Mindszenty would say, that it is the same system being used.

Mr. Machrowicz. I am not going to torture you with going into
detail of some of your horrible experiences, but you just now men-
tioned something that I had in mind. We hear in the United States,
of these so-called confessions from Cardinal INIindszenty and various
others in various walks of life, and when I hear the testimony of how
you were tortured to get your confession, I am goino; to ask your
opinion as to the voluntary nature of the confessions that we hear so
much about here?

Canon Petraitis. They have no value. They will make of men any-
thing that they want to. Every once in a while there may be one out
of a thousand might be able to withstand it.

For instance, they addressed such foolish questions to me : Were you
organizing a gang to go to Moscow and kill Stalin? I said: Yes; I
did organize. And they said : Do you wish to travel to Russia and
place some dynamite, a bomb under a factory ? I said : Yes ; I will go.

Mr. Machrowicz. In other words, isn't it true that a person under
those conditions will admit almost anything?


Canon Petraitis. Because the human being can stand it no longer.
He just hopes for the end to come sooner. There is no hope that a
man will live, and those tortures become insufferable, and when they
let a person smoke or give him shots, that is a certainty. Wliy does a
man feel so elated after that ?

Mr. Machrowicz. Just one other matter. During the investigation
of tlie Katyn massacre, we had one witness, a former Soviet officer, who
testified as to his own knowledge of the Katyn massacre, where 4,200
bodies were found, but expressed surprise that we were excited about
it because he told us there was nothing to be excited about in one
Katyn Forest massacre — that there are thousands of such places now
existing in Soviet Russia.

Isn't it your opinion that there are many places in Russia just
about the same as the Cherven Forest ?

Canon Petraitis. I am not thinking. I believe that, like I believe
in God.

Mr. Machrowicz. Thank you, Father, and all I can say is I don't
believe in torturing anybody but I would like to have all these so-
called pink intellectuals who run around this country teaching com-
munism be punished by listening to stories like yours and that mother
who lost a child that we heard in Detroit, to listen to such testimony,
and then go out and preach communism.

Canon Petraitis. They would not believe — American Communists
will not believe, because they visualize things differently.

And they would be hanged after half a year ; at most after 1 year
after the Communists would come here, because those of us who have
suffered that ; in that event we would keep silent, while these fellows
would still dare express their opinion.

They would feel that they had contributed a great deal to the cause
so they don't deserve such things. And this type of people would be
executed first so that they would not organize the people who remained
mute, who would not speak.

Mr. Machrowicz. That is all.

Mr. Kersten. Congressman Dodd ?

Mr. DoDD. I have no questions.

Mr. JuRGELA. The witness wishes to add that he weighed 180 pounds
at the time of his imprisonment and he weighed 75 pounds at the time
of his escape, when he returned home. Those are the photographs
after he got home.

Mr. Kersten. Just one short question. Before you were put in
prison by the Communists in Lithuania, what city were you in ?

Canon PETPtAiTis. I was the pastor of Erzvilkas.

]\Ir. KJERSTEN. In other words, you were a Catholic priest attending
to parish duties, pastor of this church ; is that right ?

Canon Petr^vitis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And, as such, teaching religion and conducting re-
ligious ceremonies, your work was considered a crime against the Com-
munist state ; isn't that true ?

Canon Petraitis. That was a crime. It was a crime and especially
because I used to bury the poor man gratis, and after I had been de-
tained they charged me with that — they complained that I was bury-
ing the poor people gratis.

Mr. Kersten. Now, I can tell you in New York we had testimony —
we had the original documents and the translation of these documents


required by the Communists for ministers and priests and rabbis to
sign that they would not teach children religion at all, and, as I under-
stand it, you signed such a document. You signed a document not to
teach religion to children, isn't that right, and you were forced to do
so by the Communists ?

Canon Petraitis. I signed; I had to sign. I wrote this way that
I have read the above. I had to sign it.

Mr. Kersten. Yes.

Canon Petraitis. And they demanded a statement that I would not
teach ; I wrote that I just have read it.

Mr. Kersten. All right. I want to say that in New York we had
several Lutheran j)astors and several Catholic priests, all of whom
stated to the same effect as to how the Communists treat ministers of
the Gospel, be they Protestant, Jewish, or Catholic. As I understand
it, after you had marched for a day and a half or two and were very
hungry, they promised you some soup at midnight. They promised
you soup to eat or drink, isn't that right, on the march ?

Canon Petraitis. That was the execution.

Mr. Kerstex. In other words, the soup they gave you was bullets ;
is that right ?

Canon Petraitis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you, Father. I think that you have helped to
unmask the Communist's fine phrases, and negotiations, and peace
promises, and shown us something of the hideous brutality of this way
of life that they would like to impose in every country, including even
this country.

Thank you.

Canon Petraitis. Thank you.

Mr. McTiGUE. Colonel Tumas, please.

Mr. Kersten. Colonel Tumas.

Canon Petraitis. May I have those pictures, please ? They are all
I have.

Mr. Kersten. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Colonel Tumas.

Mr. Kersten. Do you promise that you will tell the truth, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God ?

Colonel Tumas. I do.


Mr. McTiGUE. Will you state your name, please?

Colonel Tumas. Juozas Tumas.

Mr. McTiGUE. What is your address ?

Colonel Tumas. 4518 South Talman Avenue, Chicago, 111.

Mr. McTiGUE. Where were you born ?

Colonel Tumas. In Lithuania.

]Mr. McTiGUE. Were you there at the time the Soviet occupied

Colonel Tumas. Yes. At that time I was in Kaunas.

Mr. McTiGUE. Isn't it true that you were a career officer in command
of the Second Infantry Division of the Lithuanian Army ?

Colonel Tumas. Yes, I have been commanding officer of the Second
Infantry Division.


Mr. McTiGUE. And isn't it true, Colonel, that you were arrested on
May 20, 1941, by the NKVD?

Colonel TuMAs. May 10.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you in the room when Fathetr Petraitis was
testifying to the death marcli from the prison in Minsk to the Cherven

Colonel TuMAS. Yes, I was present and heard it.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you also a prisoner in that march from Minsk
to the Cherven Forest ?

Colonel TuMAs. Yes, from the prison of Minsk to the forest of
Cherven, I was in the same group.

]Mr. McTiGUE. Did the testimony that Father Petraitis gave here
on this subject this afternoon tell pretty much the story as it happened ?

Colonel TuMAS. Yes, except the last moment, from the moment they
removed us from the German prison in the direction of the forest.
Here my testimony differs.

Mr. McTiGUE. But you will corroborate the testimony on the gen-
eral subject of the march that Father Petraitis gave here this after-
noon ?

Colonel TuMAS, Yes.

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

Mr. Kersten. Congressman Bonin?

Mr. BoNiN. No questions.

Mr, Kersten. Mr. Madden?

Mr. Madden. No questions.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you.

(Witness excused.)

Mr. Kjsrsten. I might state that we might have gone into more
detail with the present witness, but it is largely corroborative of the
massacre which is also documented in other respects.

The hearing will now adjourn until tomorrow morning in this same
room at 10 a. m.

(Whereupon, at 5 p. m., the committee adjourned, to reconvene
at 10 a. m., Friday, December 11, 1953.)



House of Representatives,

Baltic Committee,

Chicago^ III.

The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m. in room
209, United States Courthouse, Hon. Charles J. Kersten (chairman
of the committee) , presiding.

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

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

Mr. Kersten. The hearings will come to order.

Mr. Snieckus, please.

Are you to be this gentleman's interpreter ?

Mr. Jancius. Yes, sir.

Mr. KJERSTEN. First, the interpreter, will you be sworn, please?
You do solemnly swear that you will truly interpret Lithuanian into
English and English into Lithuanian, so help you God?

Mr. Jancius. I do.

Frank Jancius, interpreter, was sworn to interpret Lithuanian into
English and English into Lithuania.

Mr. Kersten. Now will the witness please raise his right hand.

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

Mr. Snieckus. I do.


Mr. Kersten. Now, Mr. Interpreter, when counsel asks you ques-
tions you will put the questions to the witness, just as he asks them,
-and when you answer them back in English, answer them in the first
person, just as though you were the witness who is being questioned,
instead of saying, "He said something or other," say, "I did this,
that, or the other thing."

The Interpreter. All right.

Mr. Kersten. I will ask you, Mr. Witness, your full name.

Mr. Snieckus. Jiiozas Snieckus.

Mr. Kersten. You may proceed, Mr. McTigue.

Mr. McTigue. Where were you born ?

Mr. Snieckus. In Lithuania.

Mr. McTigue. Wliere are you living now ?

Mr. Snieckus. In Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr. McTigue. How long did you live in Lithuania ?



Mr. Snieckus. Forty-four years.

Mr. Kersten, Just a minute, please. We want this to be spoken
loudly in Lithuanian also, because this is going over the Voice of
America and we want the people in Lithuania, living under the Com-
munists, to hear this. Speak up in the Voice of America microphone.

Mr. Snieckus. All right.

Mr. McTigue. Do you have a brother Antanas ?

Mr. Snieckus. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. How old is he ?

Mr. Snieckus. As much as I know from the newspapers, he is still
in Lithuania.

Mr. McTiGUE. How old is he ?

Mr. Snieckus. Fifty.

Mr. Machrowicz. Wliat did you say ?

Mr. Snieckus. Fifty-one, I mean.

Mr. Kersten. You speak in Lithuanian, because already the Baltic
Communist puppet governments are beginning to react to these stories,
and they are already blasting the committee, and we want you to tell
your story right here over the Voice of America.

Mr. Snieckus. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. In addition to Antanas, how many other brothers
and sisters have you ?

Mr. Snieckus. I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters, 1 brother is now dead.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was your brother Antanas at the time the Soviet
occupied the country of Lithuania, the top Communist in Lithuania,
and is he still the top Communist, to your knowledge?

Mr. Snieckus. At that time he was secretary to the Communist
Party in Lithuania, the Lithuanian Communists in Lithuania, and as
much as I have been able to learn from the newspapers today, he still
remains in that position.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was you brother Antanas ever in jail ?

Mr. Snieckus. Yes, he was in prison twice.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was he in prison when the Soviet invaded Lithuania
in 1940'^

Mr. Snieckus. At that time he was in prison. He had been sen-
tenced for 8 years, and that was his second prison term.

Mr. McTiGUE. As soon as the Russians invaded Lithuania, was your
brother released from prison ?

Mr. Snieckus. He was released, together with other political pris-
oners under the influence of the present Lithuanian President.

Mr. McTiGUE. Was you brother ever, before that time, before 1940,
in Moscow, for training of any kind ?

Mr. Snieckus. As much as we know, he should have been there,
although he never told the rest of the family that he had been there.

Mr. McTiGUE. When the deportations were started in Lithuania
in June of 1941, did you have the occasion to go to your brother to
intercede for anybody ?

Mr. Snieckus. Yes, my sister and T botli spoke to him. He had
come to our house, either influenced l)v his wife or someone else, and
we had asked him to take into consideration the needs of our people.

Mr. Madden. The needs of what?

Mr. Snieckus. The needs of our people,

Mr. Madden. Speak louder, please.


Mr. Snieckus. The first thing he said when he came into the
house, "Why are you so moved? Are you speaking of some sort of
deportation?" and my sister immediately began to cry. Then she
said, "Well, can't you see what is happening here ? "

Mr. McTiGUE. Before that, before developing that point, did your
mother ever go to see Antanas at his office in the NKVD headquarters ?

Mr. Snieckus. Yes, that was in 1940, before the deportations.
She had gone to see him because he never went home to his mother.

Mr. McTiGUE. What did your mother say after she returned home,
and after she talked with Antanas ?

Mr. Snieckus. She wa§ very tearful and she said : "I did not believe
that my son could ever be like that."

Mr. McTiGUE. When the deportation started in June of 1941 were
any members of Antanas' or your family arrested ?

Mr. Snieckus. Yes, my sister and her family were arrested; my
cousin, and my uncle with their wives, and they were put in boxcars
and sliipped out.

Mr. McTiGUE. Before that happened, before they were shipped
out, did you call upon your brother, as top Communist leader, who
could in all probability have stopped this ; did you call upon him for

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