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

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this. What happened to him after 1940 ? Do you know ^

Mr. Berzins. Yes, I know. Our President of State, Karlis Ulmanis,
was deported and tried before he w^as deported. I know about the
people who were around him and who escaped afterwards. When
the 21st of July came, the so-called Vishinsky Parliament met to
decide to incorporate Latvia into the Soviet Union.)

At the same time the Soviet Ambassador came to Ulmanis in Riga
and asked him where he will go out of the country — somewhere in
the West, or the Soviet Union. Ulmanis chose Switzerland. He
w^as provided a passport for Switzerland and Ulmanis himself has
never saved money and he has nothing, but the people around him
got together and gave him about $1,000. It was sent to the Latvian
Bank to be changed into Swiss francs. After they came the second
time, the same Russian Ambassador told Ulmanis that he could not
go to Switzerland but to the Soviet Union as guest of the Soviet

He was taken out one day and put in a car and brought to the Soviet
Union. What happened afterwards to our President nobody knows.
It is very possible that he has been killed by the Soviets.

Mr. Machrowicz. You testified that this man Kirchensteins, the
man whom the Soviets selected as the Premier of the first Communist
cabinet, was a political nonentity, a professor at the Riga University ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct.

Mr. Machrowicz. And a president or active member of the Latvian-
Soviet Friendship Society; is that correct?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. President of this organization, he was.

Mr. Machrowicz. Well, the Latvian-Soviet Friendship Society was
the left-wing group of non-Conmiunists ; is that correct ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes; the Latvian group of non-Communists. The
tactic of communism is such that they have two kinds of Communists.
One is w^orking every time underground, or his Communist Party is
illegal, or in the legal Communist Party. Never, the underground
Communist which is trying to go in, in some official organizations,
or in state service or the like. They won't say that they are Com-
munists. They will never come to Communist meeting, to gatherings
and so forth.

The other group of Communists is organized for propaganda pur-
poses. They are working in papers. They are speaking at gather-
ings and so forth. They are the so-called registered Communists
who work openly. The other party is an underground partj'.

Mr. Machrowicz. The Latvian-Soviet Friendship Society is very
much like our American-Soviet Friendship Society.

Mr. Berzins. It is the same kind.

Mr. Machrowicz. The minute the power was consolidated in Latvia
those iieople were thrown out of the Government, including Kirchen-

Mr. Berzins. Yes; and were selected from this organization. The
friendship organization furnished plenty of the first puppet

Mr. Machrowicz. But shortly thereafter they were all eliminated ?

Mr. Berzins. Most of them.


Mr. Machrowicz. The reason I ask you that is that I think that
is a good thing for some of our American-Soviet Society members
to remember. They may be used for a while and then they will be
given the same fate as Mr. Kirchensteins and others.

Mr. Berzins. Yes. They are only blind tools in the hands of the
Communists ; that is all.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you, Mr. Berzins. You have contributed a
great deal here. You have described first hand your personal experi-
ences in the witnessing of the takeover of your country of Latvia by
the Communists and it has been valuable testimony. Thank you.

Mrs. Vizbulis, will 3^ou raise your right hand, please?

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


Mrs. Vizbulis. I do.

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

Mrs. Vizbulis. Mrs. Zenta Vizbulis.

Mr. McTiGUE. Is your sister married to Mr. Loy Henderson, who
is now United States Ambassador to Iran ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Where were you born ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. I was born in Latvia.

Mr. McTiGUE. How long did you live in Latvia ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. I lived in Latvia until 1941. Five years before the
war I took care of my father. He was paralyzed.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you living in Latvia in 1940 when the Russians
took over Latvia ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes, I was.

Mr. McTiGUE. What city were you living in at that time ?

Mr. Vizbulis. I was living in Talsi, and I was just 10 days married
when the Red army tanks came in Latvia.

Mr. McTiGUE. You were married 10 days when the Russians came
into Talsi?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Do you recall when the Russians came in ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes, I remember. It was about 12 o'clock at night.
My husband heard some noise. He said, "That must be tanks." I
hurried to put a robe on and wanted to go with him, because I was just
married a short time ago and I was afraid. I was afraid to let him
alone, since it was dangerous times and people were afraid.

Then we went to the next street, to the corner, and I saw big Soviet
tanks coming into Latvia, and motorcycles. Then the police came
and told the people to go home. That was about 12 o'clock at night.
In Latvia at night you can see.

Mr. McTiGUE. Those were the daylight months in Latvia when
there are only 2 or 3 hours of darkness ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes ; in May, June, and July the nights are light.

Then we went home and after 2 days we went to see my mother-
in-law and then we passed the square and we saw there the Latvian
soldiers were locked in and the Latvian officers talked with the
Russian officers.

Mr. McTiGUE. That was in June 1940?


Mrs. VizBULTS. Yes.

Mr. MgTigue. Can you tell us briefly what happened during the
following months when you were living in Talsi?

Mrs. VizBULis. It was very difficult. Since I had to take care of my
sick father, I would go out about 7 o'clock and stand and wait for
food. There were so many people, and then they would close the
door and they would say we don't have any more. I would go home
and I would have nothing to eat for my sick father.

The first week the chiefs of police were sent to some other cities
and some other officials were transferred to other places and they
disappeared. Something happened to them. People were arrested.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you try to get medicine in that period for your
sick father ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. My cousins were arrested and my cousin's
husband was arrested in October. The next year, in June 1941

Mr. McTiGUE. Let me go back for a moment. Did you try to get
medicine for your sick father?

Mrs. VizBULis. I tried to get medicine, but it was very scarce. The
medicine was $2. We had to pay $2 for just one pill of aspirin.

Mr. McTiGUE. Let me ask you about the medicine, again. Did you
try to purchase medicine for your sick father ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you have any trouble before the Soviets came

Mrs. VizBULis. No; I didn't have troubles, then.

Mr, McTiGUE. Were you successful in procuring any kind of medi-
cine ?

Mrs. ViZBULis. Yes. There was some medicine we would get but
not all we needed.

Mr. McTiGTjE. Could you buy any aspirin tablets ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Just one aspirin pill cost $2.

Mr. McTiGUE. $2 for one aspirin tablet?

Mrs. VizBuus. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Do you recall a certain morning in the latter part of
1940 when your husband came home from his position in the news-
paper office and asked you to pack your bag ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. My husband came home about 10 o'clock and
he said, 'TJet a suitcase and take some clothes for us and go to the
big street"; there was a house where the people had orders to go.

Mr. McTiGUE. And your husband packed his bag and you packed
your bag and you went to this central house ?

Mrs. VizBULis. We didn't take all the clothes, just in one suitcase.
We put all the clothes in one suitcase.

Mr. McTiGtJE. You went to this central house, you and your hus-
band ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. What happened there ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Later we were separated. I took the suitcase and
my husband had just the suit that he had on. We were taken in a
truck and carried away.

Mr. IMcTiGUE. Were there a great many women and men ?

Mrs. ViZBULis. Just the women and children.

Mr. McTiGUE. The women and children were put in trucks?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.


Mr. McTiGUE. Did they say the husbands would follow later?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes ; but after that I never saw my husband again.

Mr. McTiGUE. How many truckloads of women and children were
there ?

Mrs. ViZBULis. There were about three.

Mr. McTiGUE. Where did they take the women and children?

Mrs. VizBTJiJS. They took them close to Estonia and then they
transferred them.

Mr. McTiGTiE. They took them on an overnight trip to Estonia ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr, MoTiGUE. After you, along with the other women and children,
were transported to Estonia, what happened then ?

Mrs. VizBULTS. Then they were put in a train and we were about
7 or 8 days in trains.

Mr. McTiGUE. Before we get to that, they put you, along with how
many other women and children, into this train?

Mrs. VizBULis. There were very many. They were crowded and
sitting very close to each other. I could not remember how many, but
they were very loaded.

Mr. Kersten. Let me go one point further. Do I understand, Mrs.
Vizbulis, that the husbands were taken into a different train than the

Mrs. Vizbulis. The husbands were separated, but what happens to
our husbands we never found out.

Mr. Kersten. In other words, the husbands were separated from
the families?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And they went elsewhere?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And the group with you were women and children ;
is that it ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. This was being done by the NKVD agents, or by the

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes; the Soviet Government gave the orders to do

Mr. McTiGUE. Were the Soviet soldiers guarding the train ?

Mrs. Vizbulis. There were two soldiers and some civilians.

Mr. McTiGUB. Some civilians who were Russians?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. When they took you and the other women and chil-
dren from the trucks to the trains, how big was the train ? How many

Mrs. Vizbulis. I could not tell that. I couldn't remember that, but
there were an awful lot of children and women. Some were crying
and some were screaming. A mother with two childi-en was insane;
some of them were separated from their children and they were sep-
arated from their husbands. Then the train stop^^ed and we met some
women from the other cars and they were almost losing their minds.

Mr. McTiGUE. This is on your train trip into Siberia, from Estonia?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. You were placed in cattle cars; were you?

Mrs. Vizbulis. Yes: in cattle cars.


Mr. McTiGUE. Were the women and children crowded into these
cattle cars?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes; they were crowded.

Mr. McTiGUE. And you say that one woman in your car went in-

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. How about the other women; what was their con-

Mrs. ViZBULis. Some were crying ; some were screaming.

Mr. McTiGUE. So you started the train trip in these cattle cars to
Siberia ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. How long did this trip take?

Mrs. VizBTjLis. About 7 or 8 days.

Mr. McTiGUE. AVliat did you have for food and for water?

Mrs. VizBULis. We just almost ate nothing. Just a little bread, and
for the children in some places where the train stopped they gave some
little milk and some little bread. We got some bread and drank
some water.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did any of the women and children die, to your
knowledge, on that trip ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Not in the train. They died when we got there.

Mr. McTiGUE. When you arrived in Siberia, where did they take
the women and children?

Mrs. VizBULis. They took them to collective farms. They were
divided into different places and put to work.

Mr. ]McTiGiJE. And they distributed the women and the children
into various collective farms in Siberia ?

Mrs. VizBTJLis. Yes.

Mr. ]McTiGUE. This camp or collective farm that you talk about
is near what city or village in Siberia?

Mrs. VizBULis. My house was about 10 miles from Peravole.

Mr. McTiGUE. Is that near Gorki ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes, near Gorki. It was 180 miles from Gorki.

Mr. MoTiGUE. When you and the other women and children were
put into these collective farms, what kind of work were you required
to perform?

Mrs. VizBULis. They had to work in the fields and in the woods
and on the roads.

Mr. McTiGUE. You were doing road work ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Heavy work?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. ]\IcTiGUE. Did you also work in the woods, chopping down
trees ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did you work from early in the morning until late
at night ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. In the summer, and in the winter the days
were very short, there.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did any of you get sick during that period?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. The children 2 years old and less — they almost
all died.

52975— 54— pt. 1 7


Mr. McTiGUE. Was there a camp for Latvian children not far
from where you were located ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes, in our camp there were about 300 Latvian
children, and then in another farm there were about 400, but later
they were transferred.

Mr. McTiGUE. There were two camps solely for Latvian children?
One camp had 400 Latvian children, and the other camp had 300
Latvian children, and they later on were transferred to other points
in Siberia?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. And about 80 miles away was a camp for
men, and the men were kept like prisoners of war, with a fence, and

]\Ir. McTiGUE. Did the women transported into Siberia, along with
you, have ways and means of communicating with each other?

Mrs. VizBULis. They were very careful, when they wrote, "In this
place conditions here are better," that meant conditions here were

Mr. McTiGTJE. Did you hear that some of the younger women who
were transported in the train with you, were later put into Soviet
military garrisons for the convenience of the Soviet military — in other
words, they were made prostitutes of ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. Some of those girls get letters from their
friends and they were sent to soldier camps.

Mr. McTiGUE. And they communicated that to you and your
friends, that they were sent to the camps and kept there?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Were you able while you were on the collective farm
to get word out to your sister that you were imprisoned in Siberia?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. I wrote a letter to my sister. It was an open
letter, a small card. I said I hoped they would give me help as soon
as possible. My sister didn't receive a letter but she received a card
written with just a few words. She talked with my mother-inlaw,
who talked to Mr. Henderson and he talked with the Secretary of
State to find out if he could help me.

Mr. Kersten. At that time that you wrote to your sister your
brother-in-law was in the diplomatic service. United States; is that

Mrs. VizBTJLis. Yes. He was in the State Department, a high

Mr. Kersten. Mr. Henderson ?

Mrs. V1ZBUT.1S. Yes.

Mr. McTigtje. "Wliile you were at the collective farm doing this
kind of work that you just described, did you talk from time to time
with the Russian peasants ?

Mrs. V1ZBUX.IS. Yes; I talked with the Russian peasants. They
helped me a little because we were almost starving to death. In the
beginning they gave us just some little soup and cabbage, some little
potatoes and bread. Then we get some small dried fish once a month.

Mr. Kersten. So I understand, Mrs. Vizbulis, that the Russian
people, the Russian peasants, they really helped you ?

Mrs. VizBTJLis. Yes. They helped me. They gave sometimes a
little soup and they helped me. Because I didn't have clothes, they
helped me to get wool so I could make stockings.


Mr. Kersten". Tliat treatment the Russian peasants gave you, that
was in contrast to the type of treatment that put you in these boxcars?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. You see, the people, they don't like Com-

Mr. Kersten. In other words, you make a big distinction between
Conununists and the Russian people, don't you ?

Mrs. VizBULis. These people who helped me, they believed in God.
I was in very bad condition. They had a little to help me with. If
they didn't, I would have died. Sometimes my eyes were swollen
from not enough food. And I had to work in the fields all day, and
my legs were frozen. I was sick from not enough clothes, not enough
food. There were some people who were sorry for me. They made
this cross.

Mr. Kersten. You are making now the sign of the cross. Do you
mean these people prayed ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes; they prayed to God, and they helped me be-
cause they thought I would die from starvation, not enough food.

Mr. ]\IcTiCxUE. Weren't these Russian peasants from time to time
required to bring horses and cattle into a certain collecting point for
iise by the Soviet Army ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. When they brought these horses and cattle into town
for the Soviet and after they returned, did they tell you anything of
what they saw?

Mrs. VizBTJLis. They said the Latvian men they saw in the trains
just died there. I was looking for my husband anyplace; I was just
looking every place for information.

Also, I would get letters saying, "He is not your husband. We will
look some more."

The women had bad conditions, but worse for the men. I saw some
men from the camps, and they were just like skeletons. They were
young men with deep, black eyes. When I saw those people, my
heart just couldn't stand it.

Mr. McTiGUE. You have never seen or heard from your husband
since you were separated that day in Talsi when you were put in one
truck and he was taken away in another ?

Mrs. ViZBULis. I have heard not a thing.

Mr. McTiGUE. For how long a period were you in this collective
farm system ?

Mrs. VizBULis. It was about 1 year.

Mr. McTiGUE. During that year, did some of the children die who
were brought into Siberia, on the train, with you ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. The smallest children under 2 years, they
almost all died. The older children, they still were living. And then
some small children were born there, in the time when we were there,
but thev almost all died. In the neighborhood there was just one baby
who lived, but mostly they all died, these small babies who were born

Mr. McTiGUE. Was there any kind of typhus disease in the collec-
tive farm system, or in the community ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. In 1942 there was typhus. The place was just
closed and nobody came in and came out.


Mr. McTiGUE. You knew that efforts were being made by the De-
partment of State and by our Ambassador in Russia, Admiral Stanley,
to secure your release ; did you not ?

Mrs. VizBTjLis. Yes.

Mr, McTiGUE. After you had spent a year in this collective farm
and after they had given you a variety of excuses for not securing your
release, although you knew that attempts were being made, did you
1 day, or 1 night, decide to leave the collective farm ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. One day I decided to leave without permission.
There were two Russian peasant women who gave me same bread and
some little eggs. The bread was dry bread, so I could stay for a
longer time. In Russia you couldn't buy bread at all. I escaped. I
walked 180 miles to the Volga River.

Mr. McTiGUE. What did you do for food during that time?

Mrs. VrzBULis. I carried the food on my back.

Mr. McTiGUE. How many days was it ?

Mrs. VizBULis. More than 2 days, or 3 days to Gorki. At night I
slept in a coal house. I had skin shoes on and I had blisters on my feet.
I just sat down and said I couldn't go farther. I ask this old Russian
woman if I could sleep there. She said if I went a little farther, there
was a place where I could sleep. However, I was afraid of the typhus.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did the Russian peasants give you food and shelter
during your walk to the Volga River ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. One peasant woman told me to go across the
street, that there were some people who could take me. They helped
me. They gave me warm water to wash my feet and they got some
green leaves in to take out the heat from them because I had some

Mr. McTiGUE. When you got to the Volga River, you were able to
get a boat down the river to Kuibyshev ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Well, I went to the river and I had to sleep. I slept
there. Then the next day I went to the ship and I wanted to go with-
out permission, but the captain said, "No ; you have to go to the police
and get some permission."

Then, I decided it would do no good to wait for another ship because
they would say the same thing. I took a small boat. Eighty miles
you can go without a license, so I went to Gorki. Wlien I went to
Gorki, I went to the police office, from the police to the foreign office,
and they sent me back and forth several times. I get the telegrams
that I have from the embassy and I am told I have to go to the American
Embassy to take out my immigration papers. They gave me permis-
sion to go by boat to Kuibyshev.

Mr. McTiGUE. Then in Kuibyshev before you were actually released,
you spent some months there, did you not ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Wasn't it through the personal intervention of our
Ambassador that you were finally released ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Did Mr. Henderson himself come over from Wash-
ington ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes, Mr. Henderson. They said they would let me
go and the next day they said no, so after 2 months Mr. Henderson
was on his way to Moscow and Mr. Stanley went there to the Russian
foreign office.


Mr. McTiGUE. Do you know while Mr. Henderson was in Moscow,
whether he undertook any efforts to secure your release ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. I think Mr. Henderson did a very, very good
job, and I. am very thankful for that. Mr. Henderson spent a long
time in the foreign service and he has very good friends, like Mr.
Stanley and Mr. Thruston, and Mr. Smith, the second counsel, and
Mr. Dickerson, the first counsel. They did a very good job for me.

Mr. McTiGUE. After your release by the Soviet, you were taken to
the United States Embassy in Kuibyshev ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGTJE. Were you hospitalized there, then ?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes. Wlien I went there I had blood poison in my
foot from walking on the blisters and the dirt, and I needed an opera-
tion on my one foot. Then I was so skinny that I just couldn't talk.
I took a bath and slept. I rested for 2 weeks more after that and then
I was feeling all right.

Mr. MoTiGUE. Wliat happened after your recovery? Wliere did
you go ?

Mrs. VizBULis. I stayed in the Embassy and the Embassy was talking
to the Russians about getting me out.

Mr. McTiGUE. In November 1942 you came into the United States?

Mrs. VizBTJLis. Yes.

Mr. McTiGUE. Are you now living on Cathedral Avenue in Wash-
ington, D. C.

Mrs. VizBULis. 2816.

Mr. McTiGUE. Where are you employed now ?

Mrs. VizBULis. I am in the Rembrandt Studios.

Mr. McTiGUE. As a commercial artist?

Mrs. VizBULis. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Thank you very much, Mrs. Vizbulis.

Mrs. Galinska ?

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


Mrs. Galinska. I do.

Mr. Kersten. Your name is Hedwig Galinska ?

Mrs. Galinska. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Wliere do you live?

Mrs. Galinska. 1709 L Street, Washington, D. C.

Mr. Kersten. What is your occupation ?

Mrs. Galinska. Secretary.

Mr. Kersten. For whom ?

Mrs. Galinska. The Polish- American Congress.

Mr. Kersten. How long have you been secretary ?

Mrs. Galinska. I think about 14 months.

Mr. Kersten. I didn't understand you.

Mrs. Galinska. Fourteen months.

Mr. Kersten. How long have you been in the United States ?

Mrs. Galinska. Twenty-two months.

Mr. Kersten. Did you at one time live in the city of Vilna?

Mrs. Galinska. Yes, I did.


Mr. Kersten. That is an area concerning which there is a dispute
between Poland and Lithuania ?

Mrs, Galinska, Yes.

Mr. KJERSTEN. What was your husband's occupation at that time

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