1. Petras Plumpa
No news has come from Petras Plumpa since March 1979. Replying to her inquiry, the camp administration informed his wife, Aldona, that Plumpa "as a result of a change in the conditions of detention has the right to write one letter every two months" (August 15,1979) and that he is forbidden to receive his allotted parcel (September 31, 1979).
These replies from camp authorities attest that Petras Plumpa is imprisoned under the harshest Soviet labor camp conditions and is constantly detained either in a punishment cell or the camp's prison.
"How important it is that from us others would know about Jesus, experience his Resurrection, and share in his joy. That is why we are here among strangers in distant lands, where men thirst for salvation. Our patience is the path through which Christ will come into their hearts" (from Plumpa's latest letter, spring, 1979).
Antanas Terleckas was arrested in Vilnius on October 30,1979. The KGB has not informed the Terleckas family of the reason for his detention. It is thought that his arrest came in retaliation for the signing of the Memorandum of 45 Baits condemning the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
On July 1,1979, the wife of Vladas Lapienis, a prisoner of conscience, petitioned the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR asking that her husband's exile be terminated because of his old age. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet replied that the prisoner himself must make such a request.
On October 17 the Mordovian KGB confiscated from Vladas Lapienis photographs, Christmas wafers, envelopes with postage stamps attached, religious pictures, and some 350 letters, which had been allowed into the labor camp with the knowledge of the KGB. Lapienis wrote:
"On October 171 was taken from Mordovian Camp no. 19 and spent fifty days in transitional prisons (I rode six days on the train). I experienced considerable hardships on the road and in the prisons.
"On December 5 I was taken from the Krasnoyarsk prison to the airport and from there by airplane some 600 kilometers north to a place called Severo-Yeniseyskiy.
After liftoff from the Krasnoyarsk Airport, some 45 minutes later the plane landed in the Yeniseyskiy Airport. After 40 more minutes of flying, it reached the Severo-Yeniseyskiy Airport. Travel between Krasnoyarsk and Severo-Yeniseyskiy is possible only by airplane; there are no railroads or roads. This place is surrounded on all sides by the taiga and inhabited by bears, wolves, and other animals. Snow is plentiful and winter temperatures drop to minus 50 to 60 degrees Centigrade.
"Because I am old and suffer from headaches and my heart at times begins to fail me, I cannot work. I don't receive a pension and don't know whether I'll see one.
"Because I didn't have a cent when I came here, on December 6 the police sent a telegram at their own expense asking you to send me 200 rubles because I wasn't receiving any money from the labor camp."
Just prior to being sent into exile, Vladas Lapienis wrote:
"My journey into exile should be similar to the trip from Vilnius to Mordoviya. It is a long, exhausting trip in the company of criminals through various transit prisons. If I had the talent, I would write a book. During the trip into exile and during the exile itself, I will try to help my brothers through my own suffering to carry this cross and support their weakening shoulders" (August 3, 1979).
'If as prisoners and exiles we faithfully implement Christ's Testament, our life has meaning even here and the time spent is not wasted but becomes a spiritual rebirth. It is not important whether we are in exile or prison, behind bars or barbed wire, as long as we can make our suffering a sacrifice; therefore, let us rejoice and be happy.
"When you come to visit me in exile, please bring the Holy Bible, Kristaus sekimas(Imitation of Christ) by Thomas a Kempis, a prayer book, and a rosary" October 13,1979).
Vladas Lapienis's current address:
USSR, Krasnoyarskiy kraj
pos. Teya, ul. Piervomaiskaya no. 4
Lapienis, Vladas, Antano
5. Nijolė Sadūnaitė
Excerpts from the Past
On August 27, 1974, as a search of the apartment of [Miss] Nijolė Sadūnaitė was ending, KGB Lt. Col. Kolgov stated that ever since 1970, i.e., ever since the trial of Father Antanas Šeškevičius, the security police have kept an eye on Nijolė and have surveyed her every step. Nijolė told Kolgov that four years earlier he had already promised to bring the same type of case against her as against Father Šeškevičius; he was, therefore, very late in fulfilling his promise. Kolgov heatedly and loudly denied making such a statement.
After the security police arrested Nijolė Sadūnaitė on August 27, 1979, they hoped to learn very quickly the names of the publishers of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. Nijolė remained firm under interrogation and refused to answer the questions of the security police. After a month, KGB Lt. Col. Petruskevičius's nerves gave way, and the case was turned over to Major Pilelis.
KGB interrogator Vytautas Pilelis told Nijolė that after working as an interrogator for over twenty years and seeing many people, he did not know anyone who had remained in constant good humor after ten months of experiencing such conditions. Therefore, he and the other interrogators were sure Nijolė was mentally unbalanced. Pilelis then promised to free her if she testified against at least one other person.
Before the trial Prosecutor Jurgis Bakučionis promised to free Nijolė if she remained silent at the trial because 1975 was the International Women's Year and Nijolė had done nothing to get convicted. Sadūnaitė replied that she was not a speculator and would not gamble with her convictions. "I cannot remain silent/' Nijolė told the prosecutor, "because the facts themselves accuse you."
During the trial Prosecutor Bakučionis demanded for her four years in strict-regime labor camps and five years in exile!
Half a year after Nijolė's arrest, there was still no progress in the case. Then the KGB took notice of Nijolė's weak-willed and hard-drinking cousin, Vladas Sadūnas. He later told his family that the interrogators forced him to testify falsely that Nijolė had given him three issues of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and the book Simas. "If I had given true testimony at the trial, the security agents would have taken off my head," related Vladas Sadūnas.
The speech Nijolė Sadūnaitė made at her trial, which later reached the West, jolted the security police. Four security agents were sent from Vilnius to the Barashevo Labor Camp in Mordoviya to learn when and how Nijolė succeeded in sending out copies of her speech.
"We're not asking you to tell us to whom you gave the transcript of the closed trial; but we want to know where you managed to give it out! Was it while you were still at the Vilnius KGB prison or on the way to Barashevo or from Barashevo itself?" The security agents questioned Nijolė in vain and returned without accomplishing anything.
After the trial, as she was being taken to the labor camp, security agents in Vilnius forbade Nijolė to receive warm clothing. She was deported wearing a summer dress. Nijolė caught a cold during the trip and was ill for a long time. Upon reaching the Barashevo labor camp, Nijolė discovered that during the eleven months of imprisonment her weight had dropped 15 kilograms!
In the middle of March 1977 all the letters she had received were taken away, as well as all post cards, holy pictures, and notes. She was then taken to Saransk, the capital of Mordoviya. There security agents promised to end her exile if she "reformed." Sadūnaitė replied:
"I will accept only full rehabilitation for myself and all those who have been convicted for demanding that you observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the articles of the Constitution, and the laws. I need no favors from you, and I won't accept any."
The security agents promised to make her exile conditions one hundred times more difficult than at the labor camp. "The more difficult, the better," replied Nijolė. Her humor disarmed the security agents and no more was said on the subject.
In Saransk Sadūnaitė was fed well for two months, given her own clothing, and photographed. "They were afraid to show my striped dress abroad," wrote Nijolė, "that is why they had me wear my own clothes. Everything is a deception."
After Saransk Sadūnaitė again spent three months at the Mordovian camp. She wrote: "From June 15, 1977, I refused to do forced labor at the camp and demanded in writing that USSR Prosecutor General Rudenko and the Lithuanian prosecutor recognize the status of political prisoners. I protested the new political arrests in Lithuania and the mocking of political prisoners in labor camps, prisons, punishment cells, in exile, and in psychiatric hospitals. I was not confined to a punishment cell since I continually ran a high temperature. I did not get any medical attention; I was not even taken for x-rays." During those three months security agents confiscated the letters she wrote and received. They did not allow her the allotted purchase of five rubles' worth of food per month or to receive any parcels from home even though her brother, Jonas, attempted to send her one several times.
* * *
During May 4-7,1978, Leonid Brezhnev paid an official visit to West Germany. A group of delegation members met with Brezhnev and asked him to have Nijolė Sadūnaitė's case reviewed. He was asked to intercede and to have Nijolė released from exile and returned to Lithuania. At the time, Nijolė still had two years remaining of her exile in Siberia. Brezhnev promised to satisfy the request of the delegation but did not keep his promise upon returning to Moscow. It would seem that the Moscow KGB is more powerful than Brezhnev himself!
Soviet customs agents continue to plunder Nijolė Sadūnaitė's parcels and packages. Many packages are returned to the senders.
"I do not understand why you do not receive everything I send you?" asked Friar Hieronymus in a letter from Israel. "I sent you two hats, but everything was returned."
W. Barenberg, a physician from West Germany included some cheese in a parcel. The customs agents replaced the cheese with a document stating that they had burned the cheese!
Doctor of philosophy and theology Lilly Zarncke sent powdered milk from West Germany; the customs agents inserted a note that they had burned the milk! Nijolė wrote: "The list of 'forbidden' foods is continually growing. I recently received honey in three parcels, but now they are confiscating honey. Many of the food products sent to me are confiscated; often there is no confiscation statement . . .. The list of contents is removed from the parcels so that stealing would be easier."
Some of the parcels are destroyed by custom agents. Nijolė wrote: "A parcel came from Austria. It was all torn; the cocoa was spilled. The parcel looked as if it had been through a bombing."
Exorbitant customs duties are imposed on items sent. Aina Borgstedt sent Nijolė a used imitation-fur jacket from Sweden and valued it at 10 Swedish krona. Nijolė had to pay 100 rubles (650 Swedish krona) in customs duties!
"Whatever I have left over, I distribute to all political exiles, regardless of their nationality. Even if an evil person were in trouble, I would share my last morsel of bread with him, for we've been told to act this way by our good Teacher, Jesus Christ," wrote Nijolė from Boguchany. Sadūnaitė's personal needs are minor — she distributes and sends nearly everything to those who are suffering. That is probably the reason KGB customs agents plunder Nijolė's packages and parcels to such an extent.
On June 22, 1979, Sadūnaitė wrote a statement to the head of the Internal Affairs Department of Boguchany Rayon, requesting permission to travel to Vilnius to visit her family during the vacation period in August. On July 4 a police employee informed Nijolė that she would not be allowed to go to Vilnius during her vacation even though under Soviet law all exiles have the right to spend ten days in their homeland. "The security agents made me very happy," wrote Nijolė, "when they said that even were I exiled for ten years, they would not allow me to take a single vacation. It means that Lithuania is alive! The security police fear us!"
Excerpts from Nijolė's Letters
In her letters Nijolė remembers the friends who shared her fate and whom she left behind at the labor camp: Nadia Usoyeva, Glafyra Kuldysheva, Galia Silivonchik, Stefa Shabatura, Irina Kirtsevna, Tatyana Sokolova, Oksana Popovich, Tatyana Krasnova, and many others.
"Nadia Usoyeva is a girl of remarkable goodness and honor (sentenced to seven years of strict-regime labor and two years of exile). She is a very decent and generous Russian Orthodox. We became like sisters. Unfortunately, she was not permitted to 'take a vacation' from the labor camp. It's a real miracle; where does such a fragile girl get her strength? She has served five years with hardly a break: punishment cell, strict regime prison, starvation, cold, and ridicule. This is a true heroine before whom one should kneel! Quiet, calm, with a prayer on her smiling lips, she is never impatient, never utters an unkind word. She goes to the punishment cell smiling and returns with a smile. Wasted, blue from the cold, looking hardly human, she smiles not only at us but at her tormentors as well! Her example moved and still moves me to tears. Be good enough to write to her yourself occasionally. She will at least then be partially rewarded for the constant brutality and ridicule she endures. God, how much suffering and injustice exists in this valley of tears!"
"Our two Peters — Paulaitis and Plumpa — are rocks whom the breaking waves of hatred only show in greater nobility and spiritual beauty. The infinite beauty of love shines only in terrible suffering. Let us rejoice and thank the Lord that our small nation has so many noble and loving souls!"
Nijolė wrote about the late Msgr. Petras Rauda: "His finest characteristics were love of man, forgiveness, and deep faith. I will never forget his last days on earth. Although suffering great pain, he refused drugs to lessen the pain as a sacrifice for our misguided fellowcountrymen. He was calm and serene, grateful for the smallest favor, a man of amazing sensitivity and beauty!
"Friends who came to see him could not stand the suffering and began to cry, but the Monsignor calmly and convincingly said: 'Don't weep; I'm going to the good Father.' "
* * *
"I'm leafing through the late Father Garuckas's letters,"
wrote Nijolė, "they are precious relics. His holy hands touched these pages, wrote these noble words. He carried to distant Siberia his warmth, Christ's words, and his noble urging: 'May everyone whom you meet leave a better person. May you be like a sign at a crossroads, showing others, and especially young people, the way to true happiness . . .. May you have the strength to sacrifice until that sacrifice is complete as Christ's was on the cross. Then even a lifetime filled with suffering will seem like a short dream compared to unending eternity.' "
"The university of life — prisons, labor camps (God forbid such journeys even to our enemies), and exile — illuminates clearly and distinctly what man becomes when he loses belief in God. Without their masks, our fine-talking 'humanists' appeared in their true light as regards both myself and thousands of the best of the best. Therefore, nothing now surprises me; it only remains for me to pray for them. Their cruelty and hatred merely bring into sharper focus the nobility and moral beauty of the 'guilty though guiltless.' "
Nijolė Sadūnaitė's address:
Boguchany, Partizenskaya 17-1.