Vladas Lapienis writes:
" .. .1 was hospitalized from December 9, 1977 to January 27th of this year.
"On February 17th of this year I was told by the warden that "a medical commission" (which I never saw) certified that I am of sound health, completely fit to work and categorized me as third group disabled which gives the colony administration the right to assign any kind of work. I was immediately ordered to go to the boiler room and begin working as a stoker. This work is not easy: one must bring coal from outside, cut firewood, carry out burned-out coal and ashes and stoke all day the furnace located in the boiler room. I replied that because of my advanced age and weak health (constant roaring in my head, frequent and debilitating headaches, low blood pressure, neuralgia and a weak heart) I would not be able to perform such work. The warden then became enraged and threatened to punish me by sending me to a punishment cell and other methods. In fact, because I refused to go work as a stacker, the colony administration filed a reprimand against me, confined me to a punishment call for one week, forbade me to receive food packages this year and forbade me to buy goods from the camp store during the month of February.. Other months, I was allowed to purchase five rubles worth of goods at the camp store.
"To punish a man who cannot perform hard work because of advanced age and weak health and to impose four penalties for one offense is a harsh violation of the most basic human rights. These facts demonstrate how human rights are respected in our country. Until my arrest, I had been retired for nearly ten years and received a pension. And I didn't work because I could not. It is clear to every rational individual that my health could not possibly have improved more than eleven years later, one and a half of which were spent behind bars. In fact, my health has grown considerably worse. Besides, I have not seen any medical commission. Upon arriving at the hospital, I was questioned for several minutes about my health by a doctor, and likewise when I was discharged from the hospital. That was the medical commission! How can one doctor make up a medical commission?
"I was confined to a punishment cell from February 24th to March 3rd. After spending time in the punishment cell, my health has grown worse. Without taking this into account, the warden ordered me to go to the factory to sew gloves. He is threatening me with two weeks' confinement in the punishment cell for refusing. How can I sew gloves when I cannot see how to thread a needle because of my poor eyesight. The future will show whether they lock me up in a punishment cell.
"But I am at peace, because I know that the Lord is our comfort and our strength. I know that there is one God, that I have a soul, that I will one day die and God will pass final judgment on me. I know that there is one eternity, with no return, unchangeable and that the'only road to it is virtue and repentance. Although physical strength gradually diminishes and fades, we can however amass a treasury of spiritual virtues . . .
"In your prayers, do not forget us behind barbed wires. March 7, 1978
Ona Pranckūnaitė writes:
"Farther and farther left behind is the land of my birth, Farther and farther left behind is my Motherland's sky.
Greetings from Chuvash. On August 3rd, I was ordered to get ready "with my things." My joy was boundless. I haven't seen the sun for eight months. Four walls and a barred window. They did not say where I would be taken, but that is unimportant, even if it's to Kamchatka. I've become so weary of those deadly security facilities. I was taken from my cell at about 7:00 P.M. As I was getting into the "Voronok" I heard the words: "Hello, Onute!" I was being greeted by my trial-mate Lapienis. I was overcome with joy. The "Voronok" stopped at the Lukiškis prison to take on criminals, and I had a chance to talk with Lapienis. At the station many soldiers and dogs were waiting for us. One last glance at the city lights and— good-bye Vilnius!
Lapienis was in the car's adjoining cell. He was in high spirits—not even slightly broken by the terrible suffering. He gave me strength by citing the examples of our countrymen who had suffered much, excerpts from the Bible and verses from The Following of Christ.Truly, there are people in our nation who are blessed and who are on fire in the direst of circumstances, with an ardent beliefs in the truth for which they are fighting. They boldly face discomfort, shortages, suffering, even death for their idea which renders them happy.
Stopovers: Pskov, Yeroslavl, Gorki, Cheboksary and Kozlovk. I was separated from Lapienis in the Gorki prison. He said: "Onute, let us carry out this mission in such a way as to bring honor to God and our nation . . ." Having said these words, he lifted his eyes to heaven and stood thus for a moment, noble as a statue.
I arrived at Kozlovk on September 12th. The sight was bleak: people so exhausted and sullen, the song of birds could not be heard in the withered tree branches. It seems they also departed this troubled land.
At present, we carry an asphalt mixture and lay paths by hand. In Vilnius I suffered from insomnia, but now my eyes quickly close.
I will patiently continue to pull my heavy load and will walk the hard road trod by countless Lithuanian women. Unswervingly, I will go where the winds of life carry me and will look to heaven. Everyone has a treasure worth protecting and defending.
I spent the first part of my sentence in the Gorki region. This time the winds of destiny have blown me somewhat further ... If it be God's will, I would agree to bear the prisoner's fate until my very last breath, without glancing sideways, without seeking any brighter personal future. It is important that I carry out this mission as God wills. Thanks to God's grace and your prayers, I have the will and am determined to bear all hardships. I fear only one thing: evil . . .
. . .1 will answer your questions.
It is difficult ot explain what we are fed. Bread for the prisoners is specially baked. I do not know the ingredients. Sawdust is certainly added. This bread is given not only the prisoners —people also feed it to pigs. The gruel tastes somewhat different from twenty years ago. Our suits are made of robe material. We are also given rough boots and a quilted overcoat worn by fifteen republics. Before, it used to be different—I could wear my own clothes. I remember that during my first sentence I was given felt leggings: one black and the other white. The black one was too tight. I slit its sides with a knife and thus enjoyed them for four years. And now, although we are "temporarily" in solitary confinement, not everyone can bear this isolation. It isolates most people from all the "pleasures" of this world.
My health is poor. The last two weeks I've been alone in my cell. Solitary confinement is terrible. That same cell had been occupied by my trial-mate Lapienis. On the way kast, he told me that he had been very ill in that cell, he had nearly died. Perhaps it is nothing, but gas insidiously. For two months now, my body has been covered with sores. I am completing my fourth course of therapy, but with no results. The doctors are astonished. In this place, I cannot explain to them the possible reason lor my illness . . .
It is difficult to live in a world based on lies. In Vilnius I was attacked by anyone who had the time and the inclination. Then I was convicted and will have to serve for a crime I did not commit. . .
There are approximately 2,000 women in our prison camp. We live in groups of 65 to 75. Our living quarters have no tables— "Write, sisters, lying on the dirty floor!"
Don't worry about me. I will find comfort and even joy in prayer, sacrifice and doing good for others.
I am grateful for everything and send my most heartfelt wishes to all the children of Mary's land.