United States. Congress. House. Select committee o.

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

. (page 70 of 75)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 70 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


be repeated. Tell them plainly that you are directed by me to see that these
unlawful and inhumane acts do not occur. . . . The American people will not
lend their support for an instant to any movement which would countenance
such actions. Show this telegram to Admiral Cowan and General Gough.

Hoover.

The Germans reduced their execiitions mostly to proved criminals.

Ulmanis now returned to Riga and, with food behind him, set up a provisional
government again. But another light which lasted a month developed between
the Baits and the Letts. Colonel (iroome with Lieutenant Harrington took a
distinguished part in making an armistice and bringing various elements together
into a temporary coalition under Ulmanis against the Communists. Ultimately,
when Ulmanis got his legislative body together, it outdid Estonia, for it had
sixteen different political parties ā€” but he managed it somehow.

On June 28th, the day peace was signed at Versailles, the citizens of Riga,
Libau and other towns came, with their children, in parades of thousands to the
offices of our organization bearing flowers, with bands playing "Yankee Doodle,"
their view of our national anthem ā€” but they brought also tears and prayers of
thanksgiving.

The Allied mission under British and French officers appointed from Paris
arrived a montJi after Riga was relieved. However, before this exhibit of power
arrived on the scene of action, we had the adults fed and in addition had set up
free feeding of 50,00CĀ» stunted children, under the direction of Captain Thomas J.
Orbison and with the co-operation of Latvian women. It perfoimed a healing
service not only to bodies but to spirits.' Our statistical balance sheet for
Latvia shows :



^ An Interesting book has been written l)y Captain Orbison: Children, Inc. (Boston,
1933).



52975 O - 54 - 38



582



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION
Supplies





Food
(tons)


Clothing,

Medical,

Miscellaneous

(tons)


Total
(tons)


From

United States


25,390


976


26,366






Financed by

Charity from the United States (Child Feeding).






$1, 588, 170




5, 880, 931




80,920










Total.-


$7,550,021







And among the details as to the $1,588,170 of charity I find "meals served to
undernourished children, 41,200,000. . . . Two thousand Latvian women took
part in this work."

LITHUANIA

Lithuania had suffered as the others. The ebb and flow of plundering armies
had left even an agricultural people starving. They, too, had declared independ-
ence at the time of the Bolshevist Revolution in Russia in 1917 and had seen
their new nation snuffed out by the Oerman annexation. After the Armistice
they followed the lead of the otlier Baltic states and, in January, 1919, called a
national assembly which set up a provisional government. At once they were in-
vaded by the Soviet armies. Again a ragged army of 25,000 peasants repelled
the invaders.

Captain HoUister was originally in charge and was succeeded by Captain John
T. Scott, who, being needed by our work elsewhere, was succeeded by I\Ia.1or W. A.
Burbank and later by Lieutenant Harrington. The usual free child feeding was
organized alongside the general relief and 45,0(W children nursed back to health.

The Lithuanian balance sheet is not extensive :

Supplies





Food
(tons)


Clothing,

Medical,

Miscellaneous

(tons)


Total
(tons)


From

United States


9,244


3,633


12, 877






Financed by-
Charity from the United States (Child Feeding)






$463, 817




5, 459, 884


Loans from the United Kingdom


57,120










Total


$5,980,821



One last service I performed for all three Baltic states was to arrange with
the Danes for the supply of several thousand tons of seed grain, we to replace it
from the United States with other gains. Thus it arrived in time for the plant-
ing. And the Danes themselves made a very substantial donation.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 583

Exhibit 10-A



The Situation of the Church

and Religious Practices in

Occupied Lithuania



PART I.

Under the Soviet Occupation, 1940-41

by
A. TRAKISKIS



584 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION



A Report based on authentic in-
formation, eye-witness stories and
Soviet Administration documents.
A further report will deal with
the Church and religious practices
under the German occupation.



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 585

I.

Catholicism in Lithuania: Its Origin
and Position

LITHUANIANS belong to the Baltic branch of the
Indo-European family of nations. This Baltic
group is sometimes called an Aistian branch.

Science is still unable to determine in what century
of pre-history they had settled along the shores of the
Baltic Sea, It is known that the Lithuanians and their
kinsfolk, the Old Prussians * and the Latvians dwelled
there at least since the Vllth century, A.D.

The Lithuanians, unmolested by conquering Ro-
mans, far removed from the track of migrating nations,
unaffected by the growth and decline of new Germanic
States, were undisturbed by the apostles of the Gospel,
and, consequently, they were the last Europeans to
embrace Christianity. This occurred toward the end of
the XlVth century.

Since pre-historic times, the Lithuanians had lived
in one of the most secluded regions of Europe. They
had few direct contacts with Western Europe and were
strongly attached to their ancient pagan religion, some-
what di'uidic in form ā€” the worship of the forces of
nature, without idols and with oak groves for temples,
where, on stone altars, burned the sacred fires tended
by white-robed priests and priestesses.

The politically divided and constantly warring
neighboring Polish and Russian principalities of recent
neophites, could hardly serve as missionary centers for
the Christianization of the heathen Lithuanians, while
the Teutonic Knights with their pitiless policy of
plunder and of butchering the innocent and defenseless
Aistian s were less qualified to preach peace and the
love of Christ to their victims who were blocking the
way for the "Drang nach Osten" of Germandom.

* The Old Prnseiaijs were subjugrated by the Germans at the end of the
Xinth Century and their laneruage ceased to be spoken under German dom-
ination by the end of the XVIIth Century.



586 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

The Lithuanians began to emerge from their pre-
historic isolation at the time when the dissemination
of Christianity among pagan peoples was beginning to
provide a convenient cloak for political expansion. This
was especially true with the Teutonic or Marienburg
Order, which instead of spreading the Gospel by peace-
ful means preferred military measures in imposing its
secular political domination.

The resentment and reaction of the Lithuanians
were such, that for two centuries Lithuania remained
the only heathen country in Europe, and pagan prac-
tices in some parts of the country continued undis-
turbed to the end of the XVIIth century.

When the Lithuanian people accepted Christianity
they held steadfastly to the Roman Catholic faith.
Even during the first occupation of Lithuania by Rus-
sia, as a result of the partition of the Lithuanian-Polish
Commonwealth in 1795, the Roman Catholic faith with-
stood all obstinate efforts of Czarist authorities to force
the Lithuanians to relinquish their religion. The failure
of Russian efforts to convert the Lithuanian people to
the Russian Orthodox Faith, may be seen by the fact
that by the time the Independence of Lithuania was
restored in 1918, only 2.6 percent of her population
professed the Russian Orthodox faith, while 80.33 per-
cent were Roman Catholics, 9.56 percent Reformed
Evangelical Lutherans and 7.30 percent Hebrews. The
2.6 percent of the inhabitants professing the Russian
Orthodox faith includes all Russian settlers colonized
in Lithuania in the XlXth century by the Czarist ad-
ministration.

In June 1940, in Lithuania there were more than
1,600 Roman Catholic priests with about 800 parishes
organized in two archdioceses and four dioceses headed
by three archbishops, seven bishops and one bishop for
the armed forces,* four Roman Catholic Seminaries
and the Faculty of Theology-Philosophy at the State
University of Kaunas. Various lay Catholic organiza-
tions had a membership of about 800,000 from a total
population of 3,000,000.

* Archdioceses of Vilnius (Vilna) and Kaunas, dioceses of Vilkaviskis,
Telsiai, Kaisiadorys and Panevezys and Prelecy of Kleipeda-Memeo.



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 587

The Catholic Press was the most influential in
Lithuania.

The Christian-Democratic party with its affiliations
was the strongest political party. During the four dem-
ocratic elections to the Lithuanian Parliament, the
Christian Democrats had polled 48 percent of all vote.



IL

Soviet "Freedom of Religion" and the Truth

Article 124, Chapter 10 of the Soviet Constitution
provides: "In order to ensure to citizens freedom of
conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from
the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of
religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propa-
ganda is recognized for all citizens." * The same stipu-
lation granting the "freedom" of passive worship and
of government sponsored active anti-religious propa-
ganda is repeated in the so-called "constitution" of the
Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania (Section 96). In
spite of this unequivocal wording of the basic laws of
the U.S.S.R., the bolshevik propaganda continues to
stress the alleged recognition of a "full religious free-
dom" (for instance, in the appeal to the Lithuanian
population at the fake elections in 1940).

The communists have by no means been tolerant of
the alleged liberty of citizens to act according to their
own conscience in this respect. The period of bolshevik
terror in Lithuania yielded sufficient proof that these
constitutional stipulations, in so far as they guarantee
the freedom of religious practices (minus the preach-
ing) as well as all the assurances made by the bol-
sheviks not to interfere with religion, are empty words.
No curbs were placed on anti-religious propaganda. The

* Constitution (Fundamental Law of the Union of Soviet Socialist Re-
publics, Ogiz. Moscow, 1938).

Regarding the situation of the Ch rch and Religion under Soviet rule in
Estonia and Latvia see "The Fate of Religion and Church under Soviet Rule
in Estonia 1940-1941" (published by the World Association of Estonians, Inc.,
15 E. 125th Street, New York 35, N. Y.) and "Report of the Sufferings of
the Christian Churches in Latvia during 1940-1943" (published by "Drauffa
Vests," 162 Second Avenue, New York 3, N. Y.)



588 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

bolshevik officials carried on the God-less propaganda
rather intensively and ignored completely Article 124
of the Soviet Constitution and Section 96 of the "Con-
stitution of the Soviet Republic of Lithuania" which
provides the basis for the alleged ''full religious free-
dom" in the U.S.S.R. Instead of according a true re-
ligious freedom, they imposed repressions upon the
church and upon the practicing religionists, entirely
disregarding the Constitutional assurances.

The hostile attitude of the bolsheviks regarding re-
ligion was evident even during the first days of the
Russian occupation. An exceptionally extensive and in-
tensive anti-religious propaganda was initiated in Lith-
uania immediately after the occupation of that country
by the Russians in June 1940. Rude, malicious and
scornful anti-clerical orations were in order from the
beginning. The Russian-edited press was full of dis-
paraging anti-religious slogans from the first day. De-
basing anti-(k)d harangues were heard at compulsory
meetings arranged by the invaders.

These ironical, malicious and hateful attacks on re-
ligion and the clergy were, according to bolshevik opin-
ion, bound to create conditions more receptive to bol-
shevik ideas.

Apart from these formal attacks against religion
in the press and at mass meetings, the invaders simul-
taneously resorted to still other means directed against
religion and the interests of the believers. One of the
first steps was the cancellation of the Concordat, signed
by Lithuania and the Vatican in 1933.

This step suddenly taken by the puppet officials of
Moscow saddened and depressed the majority of the
Lithuanians. The calumnious campaign against the
Vatican, religion in general and the Catholic clergy in
particular incessantly carried on in the press and at
public meetings in connection with the termination of
the Concordat deepened the unfavorable effect upon the
people.

The Concordat was denounced on June 26, 1940,
just ten days after the invasion by the Russians. On
that day the Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Centoz, was in-



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 589

vited to the Foreign Office where he was rudely in-
formed that a new ''Soviet Lithuania" did not consider
it necessary to maintain relations with the spiritual
head of the Catholic Church. At the same time Mon-
signor Centoz was ordered to vacate his apartment
within two days and to leave Lithuania before August
25, 1940.

The Russians did not assign any other apartment
to Monsignor Centoz in spite of his requests. Further-
more, they disregarded the Nuncio's diplomatic status
and attempted to prevent the removal of his own furni-
ture from his former apartment. His small bank ac-
count was sequestered by order of N. Pozdniakov, the
Soviet Envoy to Lithuania who overnight became an
all-powerful Deputy-Chief of the Kremlin, second only
to the special envoy Dekanazov.

After breaking the Concordat with the Vatican, the
government issued a series of new decrees aimed di-
rectly against religion and the religious practices of the
population. By these decrees all religious instruction in
schools was abolished; the army and school chaplains,
padres of hospitals, old people's homes and prisons
were dismissed; the activities of the Catholic Theo-
logic-Philosophic Faculty and of the Evangelic Lu-
theran Theological Faculty were suspended; all re-
ligious and religious-minded organizations were liqui-
dated ; all publication of religious magazines and books
was prohibited ; the property of religious organizations
and societies was confiscated. The persecution of the
clergy and the closing of the churches began.

The tactics employed at the start by the Soviet
authorities in dealing with the church were not to at-
tack or harm the priests as individuals but rather, to
isolate them from the population, to lessen their influ-
ence with the masses. During one year of Soviet occu-
pation of Lithuania only 28 priests were arrested, a
little more than 2 percent from a total of 1,247 (see
appendix).* To one acquainted with Soviet methods of
rule and wholesale ^'purges", this number seems to be
rather "moderate". However, it should be remembered
that th e same initial ^'moderation" has always been

* Excepting Diocese of Vilnius for which we are lacking precise data.



590 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

shown by the Soviets in other fields of bolshevization
by degrees.

For instance, Article 7 of the so-called "Lithuanian-
Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance" imposed upon Lithu-
ania October 10, 1939, and known as the ''Garrison
Pact" stipulates: "The I'ealization of this treaty must
not infringe the sovereign rights of the contracting
parties, especially the structure of their state, their
economic and social systems, military instruments and
altogether the principles of nonwintervention of one
State in the internal affairs of the other State." Seven
months later all of Lithuania was swamped by a flood
of Red troops. Obviously, the "Mutual Assistance Pact"
was just a prelude, a convenient cloak for a "Trojan
Horse."

This same "moderate" procedure had grown strin-
gent once Lithuania was subjugated. Starting with
seemingly "peaceful" reforms of collectivization, the
real Muscovite hand was played later, when in June
1941, the Soviet administration suddenly began whole-
sale deportations of innocent Lithuanians into the
depths of the U.S.S.R. Similar methods manipulated
the "self-determination" of the Lithuanian people to
become a "14th Soviet Republic."

None of the hand picked candidates for a "New
Parliament" ever knew that two weeks hence they
would be assigned the role of giving away the inde-
pendence of their country.

This is a traditional Muscovite way in furthering
political aims: quiet the people before striking. The
same method was again applied in dealing with the
church and its servants in the Baltic States. Knowing
the profound attachment of the Lithuanian to his re-
ligion, the Soviet authorities were fully aware that the
population would resent any wholesale attempt against
the clergy, which might provoke trouble at a wrong
moment. Hence the "moderation" and temporizing by
degrees. The true Muscovite design was revealed in all
its repulsive nakedness at the beginning of the Ger-
man-Russian war, when there was no longer any reason
for temporizing. This was the day of the dastardly



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 591

"priest hunt" throughout the country. Fifteen priests
of all ranks and ages were killed in bestial manner (see
Appendix).



III.

Expulsion of Religion from Public Institutions

The State provided free and non-compulsory re-
ligious instruction in all public schools of independent
Lithuania. From the beginning of their regime, the
Russian occupants did not tolerate this instruction in
the schools in spite of the adverse opinion of parents
in this matter. Desiring to deal a death blow to all re-
ligious education bj^ prohibiting religious instruction,
they did not delay the introduction of this reform. On
June 20, 1940, the Ck)mmissar of Education announced
that in accordance with orders received from the cen-
tral committee of the Communist Party, religious in-
struction in all schools was suspended, and that all
school chaplains were dismissed from their offices.

Before the assumption of power by the alien offi-
cials, there was a long established custom in almost all
Lithuanian schools to begin and end lessons with a
prayer. This custom of public praying was ordered
abolished as soon as the Russians took the reins of the
puppet government.

In substitution for religious lessons the bolshevik
Ministry of Education, later renamed "The People's
Commissariat of Education," decreed that so-called
lessons in political education would replace religious in-
struction. The bolsheviks considered that the teaching
of the history of the Communist Party and the inter-
pretation of the Soviet Constitution constituted "politi-
cal education."

Parents who believed that religious instruction was
absolutely necessary, petitioned for the restoration of
the privilege of religious instruction at their own ex-
pense. Their efforts were, however, in vain. Thereupon
the parents cooperated with the pastors so that their
children might be given religious tutoring privately.



592 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

The priests attempted to fulfill the wishes of the par-
ents. Instruction was to be offered in churches and in
larger private homes.

This religious instruction was begun in many places,
but did not, of course, pass unnoticed by the invaders.
In the beginning the Russians did not take all this
seriously, believing that the teachers as well as the
pupils would soon tire of this private religious tutoring
and that it would then die a natural death. But time
passed and the number of pupils attending private re-
ligious lessons did not decrease. On the contrary, those
parents who in the beginning remained passive began
to encourage attendance at religious classes.

The continuing success of private religious instruc-
tion began to annoy the bolsheviks. They were con-
vinced finally that this instruction was an obstacle in
the way of their anti-religious propaganda. They real-
ized that all their efforts to "inoculate" communistic
ideas in the children would be in vain as long as the
latter received religious training.

The bolsheviks therefore decided to remove this
obstacle. The Central Committee of the Communist
Party could, of course, prohibit this religious instruc-
tion by issuing adequate decrees. They realized, how-
ever, that public reprisals would in this case only tend
to strengthen the religious attachment of the popula-
tion to religion. Instead of public reprisals the Central
Committee of the Communist Party decided to order
the county executive committee to settle this matter
administratively.

The measures taken by the county executive com-
mittees can be seen from the following order circular-
ized by the chairman of the district executive com-
mittee of Kaunas :

"The Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania
The County Executive Committee of Kaunas
April 25, 1941
No. 8

To all Presidents of the Township Executive Committees
within the jurisdiction of the County of Kaunas and the City
of Jonava.

I hereby order you, immediately upon the receipt of this



BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION 593

letter, to invite all clergymen, (vicars, priests, etc.) domi-
ciled within your jurisdiction and to inform them that they
are strictly forbidden to give children any religious instruc-
tion and to demand that each clergymen sign the attached
form. The first name and the surname as well as residence
of clergyman must be entered on the form before he signs it.

Each clergyman must be summoned separately or called
upon at his residence.

This letter must not be shown to the clergymen.

The signed forms must be forwarded to me in a letter
marked confidential, personal, by May 10, 1941. This letter
and the unused forms shall also be returned to me.

Inasmuch as this matter is strictly confidential, I order
you to keep it completely secret and not to discuss it or show
it to anyone. This letter need not be recorded in* the book of
incoming mail, and therefore, must not be shown to the
secretary.

(Signed) BiLis
Chairman of the Executive Committee."

A number of forms were transmitted with the let-
ter to the Chairmen of the executive committees of
each township and of the City of Jonava. The clergy-
men had to sign the following form :

"I, the undersigned clergyman residing in the

county of the township of village of .... .

sign the attached as evidence that I was informed on April

1941 that I am strictly enjoined not to give religious

instruction to school children or to children of preparatory
school age, neither in churches, nor in the homes of the chil-
dren, nor in my own apartment or elsewhere. Thus I have
no right whatsoever to talk to them about religious matters.

I was clearly told that I shall be held responsible for the
non-observance of this warning hereby verified by me.

Signature '*

The puppet chairmen of the executive committees
of the townships endeavored to carry out the task de-
creed by the chairman of the county executive com-
mittee. They carefully adhered to the instructions of
this circular letter; they issued "invitations" to the
clergymen and suggested to them that they sign these
obligations. As was expected, the majority refused to
sign them even though threats were made to compel
them to do so. However, events of 1941 prevented, for
the most part, the execution of these threats.

The bolsheviks in expelling religion from the



594 BALTIC STATES INVESTIGATION

schools, also abolished it in other places. In the courts
the Christian form of oath was abolished by a special
decree. Religious signs and symbols were removed from
all public places.

Lithuania is noted for her beautiful wayside crosses
at cross-roads and in front of homes. There were cruci-
fixes on the walls of the classrooms, in the courts, in
hospitals, and in old people's homes, etc. The bolsheviks
disliked this display of the Christian character of the
country. The occupants removed crucifixes from hos-
pitals and other places and replaced them by the pen-
tagonal Red Star and other bolshevik symbols.

Before the Russian invasion, political and criminal
prisoners in Lithuania could at all times summon the
prison padre or some other clergyman. After the in-
troduction of the Russian order in prisons, the clergy-
men were banned from entering the prisons. Whenever
the condemned prisoners asked the NKVD (formerly
GPU) oflftcials to bring a priest to them, the NKVD
paid no attention. They ridiculed such requests.

Oflficially, the clergymen were not banned from vis-
iting the hospitals, but the sick were unable to sum-



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Select committee oBaltic States investigation. [First interim report] (Volume pt. 1) → online text (page 70 of 75)