Skaudvilė (Rayon of Tauragė)
To: First Secretary Griškevičius of the Lithuanian Communist Party
A Protest from: Father Vincas Vėlavičius, residing in Skaudvilė, Tauragės g. 17.
In the middle of February of this year and on March 2nd, two atheist programs were held at the Skaudvilė Middle School, which upper grade believing students were forced to participate. The Faith was vilely ridiculed in sketches, songs and poems.
For example: The grade 9B teacher put together a sketch mocking the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the sketch, a schoolgirl, wearing a raincoat with crosses on her shoulders and chest, ridiculed the Holy Mass, beginning with the entrance hymn Pulkim ant kelių (Let's Fall to Our Knees), sprinkling with holy water, the Offertory, Consecration and Holy Communion of the Mass. The sketch used a vessel, similar to a chalice, full of candy and imitated the distribution of Holy Communion.
On March 12th of this year, correspondent Bernardas Šaknys raised a voice of protest in Tiesa (The Truth) against a physics teacher at the Lyduvėnai Middle School who imposed a strange punishment on a student who had not studied the lesson. He permitted other students to place a bag on the delinquent student's head and then the teacher himself and other students beat him.
The correspondent notes: "The school is a world of learning and high ideals. There, a child, an adolescent, a teenager learns respect for others. Within the school building, there can be no talk, no thought of anger against, injury to, or debasement of a student."
As pastor of the Skaudvilė Catholic Church, I protest in my name and that of my parishioners whose children attend the Skaudvilė Middle School, that certain atheist teachers ridicule so savagely the faith of believing children and their parents. This moral corruption of children is much worse than the use of physical punishment. We, believers, are amazed that the godless have lost all sense of limit, and we therefore see in a new light the burglary of churches, the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament, attacks against and even murder of priests. Such primitive and crude atheist programs fill in the framework of those other crimes.
Please discipline the rampaging atheists of the Skaudvilė Middle School and take all means to see to it that similar programs do not recur, for they honor neither atheists nor the Soviet government.
Father V. Vėlavičius,
Skaudvilė, April 5, 1981 Pastor of Skaudvilė
Pilviškiai (Rayon of Vilkaviškis)
In the summer of 1981, at the Church in Pilviškiai, a children's choir began to sing, thereby worrying the teachers of the Pilviškiai Middle School. At the start of the new academic year, they took measures to disband the choir. The head of the school Pioneer organization, Teacher (Mrs.) Bakaitienė, worked most zealously to accomplish this. Teacher Bakaitienė used the occasion of folk dance rehearsals or even casual meetings in the street to re-educate Jolanta Valinskaitė (grade 7A), Irma Baukutė (grade 5A) and Asta Kvirevičiūtė.
Teacher V. Mekšrienė forbade student Kristina Staugaitytė (grade 6A) to sing in church and attempted to persuade her mother to take her daughter out of the church choir.
Pagiriai (Rayon of Kėdainiai)
During October 5 and 6, 1981, the following Pagiriai Middle School students were summoned to the Kėdainiai Prosecutor's Office: fourth-grader Rasa Grigaitytė and fifth-graders Lina Kilijonaitė, Vida Vyšniauskaitė and Darius Vilčinskas. Only the Kilijonaitė and Vyšniauskaitė girls went to the Prosecutor's Office. The girls were asked who teaches them catechism and prayers, they were ordered to put everything down on paper and sign.
Outraged by such conduct by government atheists, the parishioners sent a statement to First Secretary Griškevičius of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party, protesting this persecution of believing children and demanding that parents' rights to raise their children according to their beliefs be guaranteed. The statement was signed by 33 Pagiriai believers.
Kybartai (Rayon of Vilkaviškis)
On November 16, 1981, Vida Merkevičiūtė, a tenth-grader at the Kybartai Middle School, was summoned to Principal Jonas Dirvonskis' office. On the way to the principal's office homeroom teacher (Miss) Aldona Strakauskaitė threatened the girl with a trip to the home of the polar bears for visiting her friends D. Kelmelytė in Vilkaviškis on November 14th and attending a birthday party.
Principal Dirvonskis inquired how the student happened to find herself at the militia on November 14th. Merkevičiūtė explained that at the start of the birthday party, militiamen and several security agents burst in and, stating that "after identity verification" they would be released, took everyone to the department.
The agitated principal asked the student the name of their group and who leads it. When Merkevičiūtė replied that the young people were celebrating a birthday and she knew nothing about a group, Dirvonskis called the student a tramp and threatened her with ten years' imprisonment.
On November 18th, Vida Merkevičiūtė was again interrogated at the office by a visiting chekist and school Principal Dirvonskis.
The chekist wanted to know who had invited the student to the birthday, whether a priest had been present, whether the girl had been at the Vytautas the Great commemoration in Trakai, or in Šiluva .. . Vida refused to answer questions related to her friends. Teacher Aldona Strakauskaitė and principal Dirvonskis were most incensed that a Vytis (Lithuanian national symbol depicting a knight on horseback — Trans. Note) and pictures of Lithuanian Grand Dukes hung on the walls of the Kelmelis family apartment. Homeroom teacher Strakauskaitė demanded that this be the last birthday party to attract the interest of the security police and promised that for her "offense" Vida Merkevičiūtė's conduct grade would be lowered to unsatisfactory.
On October 28, 1981, Principal Lisauskas told Vilkaviškis grade 8A student Arvydas Juška in front of the entire class: "You have vomited on the school and I will have to lick it off!"
Taking him to his office, the principal asked the student why he went to Šiluva and also said how gratified he was that the pilgrims were detained, and ordered the accused boy to write an explanation, but Arvydas refused. That same day, grade 8A Homeroom Teacher Durneikienė explained during a Communist Youth League meeting that in Šiluva, Arvydas had wanted to overthrow the Soviet government.
On October 30th, Principal Lisauskas interrogated Arvydas' father, but the father did not answer most questions. That same day, Arvydas was summoned to the juvenile department. He went with His father. The juvenile department inspector and several chekists were waiting for them. There ensued a barrage of questions and Arvydas was ordered to write a confession, but this time again he fearlessly refused.
Afterward, they often summoned Arvydas from class in order to break his resolve, but they failed to turn him into a traitor.
Medingėnai (Rayon of Plungė)
On September 20, 1981, a group of students who had come from Klaipėda as party-recruited summer help stood around the churchyard and blew cigarette smoke at Father Paliukas as he walked in procession with the Blessed Sacrament around the church. They hurled curses, spat, laughed and ridiculed the faithful who walked in the procession. They were accompanied by a leader who obviously encouraged the teenagers to vent their hatrad for religion and believers.
Lower grade Teacher (Mrs.) Bardauskienė of Šilutė Middle School No. 3 forcibly enrolls children in the Little Octobrist organization. At the beginning of 1981, (Mrs) Aldona Dudonienė warned teacher Bardauskienė not to enroll her first-grade son Alvydas Dudonis in the Little Octobrists. Teacher Bardauskienė replied:
"I'll enroll him even without your consent. He has to be a Little Octobrist."
November 14th was proclaimed Little Octobrist Day at the school and all the children were to be enrolled in the organization. That day, (Mrs.) Dudonienė kept her son home from school to prevent his being enrolled in the Little Octobrists. Teacher (Mrs.) Stankuvienė, Assistant Principal (Mrs.) Griciūnienė and Teacher Bardauskienė came to their home. They began to insist that the mother allow her child to attend the "cherished children's feast". The mother protested that her son is not a Little Octobrist and would not attend the "feast." The teachers attempted to re-educate the mother, but she categorically refused to yield to the atheists' pressure.
Veisiejai (Rayon of Lazdijai)
On October 21, 1981, Veisiejai Middle School ninth-grader Mindaugas Judeikis was summoned to the principal's office where he was met by chekist Lieut. Algis Gylys. After asking about his health, Gylys explained that he did not want to recruit him, as most people think, but just talk with him as a friend. Gylys asked where Mindaugas intended to continue his studies, expressed surprise that he did not plan to pursue higher education, but intended to choose a trade school. When the student explained that due to difficult financial conditions he could not think about higher education, the chekist stated:
"Of course, conditions are difficult. . . You have a believing mother . . . Your mother is as fanatical as mine . . . But I'm not afraid of what Aušra (The Dawn) or the Chronicle will write or what the Vatican will say. For example, they reported that I cut down a cross in Gudeliai, while there was no trace of me there at the time . . . (This blatant denial in the face of witnesses to the incident is typical of the Soviet concept of lies and truth: the truth is what is useful to the Communist Party).
Having justified himself, the chekist broached another subject:
"You're a sensible man. Don't think that things will continue as they are. At first, marches to Šiluva were different, but now they've become purely political, anti-Soviet. This will not continue, it will become necessary to jail all the priests, to bring back the Stalin era . . . We know everything! We even know a meeting was held in Leipalingis. Of course, I don't know if you were there, but I'll find out. You're thinking of entering the theological seminary. You won't, we won't let you! You'd be a reactionary priest."
Mindaugas explained, that besides the legal seminary, there was an underground school. The chekist attempted to denigrate it:
"Well, of course there is. But you must know what kind of priests work there: those who have no parishes, who earn nothing, mere drudges . . . And think of your education! We could help you enroll in a school of higher education if you renounce your activities. But now you are clearly against the Soviet government. You think we don't know you read and circulate the underground press? We know everything, but still don't touch you. Someone else in my place would have put you in your place long ago . . ."
In conclusion, the chekist reminded Mindaugas that the conversation should remain just between the two of them. The boy laughed:
"When you began to talk, you knew it would not remain just between the two of us "
On April 19, 1981, Easter Sunday, in keeping with an old tradition, the young people of the Prienai parish visited the residents of an old people's home, 70% of whom are believers. The faces of the elderly lit up with joy when the young people sang several Easter hymns for them and gave each of them modest gifts: painted Easter eggs, cookies, etc.
This disturbed Director Proškas of the old people's home and several employees. They began apprehending the young people, to place them in a car. They only caught (Miss) J. Kazlauskaitė and confiscated the bicycle of her sister, Marytė.
Assistant Principal Kuras of Middle School No. 2 detained the following schoolgirls in the town: M. Gudaitytė, L. Banytė and Vida Kaminskaitė. The girls were taken to the militia department where officials intimidated them, even locked them in solitary confinement cells, and then interrogated them to learn what other youngsters had visited the old people's home.
The girls' parents — Kaminskas, (Mrs.) Kazlauskienė and (Mrs.) Banienė — came to the militia and boldly asked why their children were detained and demanded that they be released. Militia officials released the girls without offering any explanation, but before doing so, (Mrs.) Zoveckienė, an employee of the minor children's division, noted the names of the girls and their homeroom teachers.
At the school during class, grade 4A Homeroom Teacher (Mrs.) Netkevičienė ridiculed L. Banytė and other girls for visiting the old people.
Šilutė resident (Mrs) Kazė Maksvytienė grew up in a Catholic family and in that same spirit she is rearing her three sons who are still students at Šilutė Middle School No. 1. Noticing that members of atheist organizations wear pins on their lapels, the mother pinned crosses on her sons.
During recess on October 12, 1981, Teacher (Mrs) Staškuvienė attempted to remove the cross forcibly from Maksvytienė's oldest son, fourth-grader Linas Maksvytis. Not only did the school's principal not condemn the action of Teacher Staškuvienė, but she personally began to slander and insult Linas Maksvytis, his brothers and mother.
On October 21st, at the order of the school's Principal (Mrs.) Dobranskienė,Teacher Vilkis took the three Maksvytis children — Linas (grade 4), Stasiukas (grade 2C) and Simas (grade 1A)— to the Juvenile Division of the Šilutė Rayon Internal Affairs Department because they wore crosses.
Four uniformed staffers questioned Linas in a smoke-filled room:
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" "I don't know. I'm still little," replied the boy. "You'll probably be a priest?" "Maybe I'll be a priest."
"No! You won't be a priest! You'll finish eight grades, the principal will expel you from school and you'll be sent to the agricultural trade school."
"Then I'll graduate from trade school."
"Do you serve at Mass in church?"
"Yes, I do."
"We'll write the pastor that you're a liar and he'll expel you from the altar boys. What's the pastor's name?" "I don't know."
"You're a big dummy, a blockhead if you don't know. Tell me, when will you take off your cross?"
"When the principal stops slandering my mother."
"Well, what a vengeful boy. Promise you'll take it off. If you don't, we'll file charges and take you to a delinquents' colony."
When Linas Maksvytis began to cry, they called in his younger brothers Stasiukas and Simukas.
"So your mother told you not to obey your teachers?"
"Mommy told us to obey our teachers, but not to obey when they tell us to remove the cross," both boys replied.
The juvenile division employees also threatened to send the little boys to a delinquents' colony. They then drafted a report and ordered Linas to sign. The younger brothers did not know how to sign, so they were told to make crosses instead of a signature.
Adakavas (Rayon of Tauragė)
To: P. Griškevičius, First Secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party.
A Complaint from: Citizens (Mrs.)Jadvyga Gritaitienė, (Mrs.) Marijona Lauraitienė and Jonas Griškus.
An October 1981 issue of Valstiečių laikraštis (Peasants' Newspaper) contained an article entitled "Anonimas meluoja" ("The Anonymous Writer is Lying"). Among other things, the article's author (Mrs.) S. Mickuvienė writes:
"One more resident of Panevėžys, calling himself Sakalas (Hawk), thoroughly slanders teachers who supposedly insult the children of believing parents. Where? In what school? What teacher? Not a word about that. He knows, he knows very well that if he were to state concrete facts, if he were to give his name, the editors would necessarily investigate. And then things would be very unpleasant, very awkward because these 'facts' were pulled from thin air."
We wish to relate certain facts of discrimination against believing children and young people.
In the Rayon of Tauragė, in violation of the USSR Constitution, which guarantees all USSR citizens the freedom of belief and conscience, Adakavas Primary School Principal (Mrs.) Aldona Žąsy-tienė ridicules our children in class for attending church. For example, she mocked seventh-grader Algimantas Lauraitis:
"Why do you go to church? God does not help you."
During class, she jeered at fourth-grader Antanas Grigaitis:
"Have you kissed the priest's hem yet?"
Fourth-grader Arvydas Griškus is called a "church toady."
We, believing parents, are greatly outraged by the behavior of principal Aldona Žąsytienė toward our children.
October 31, 1981