During the winter of 1956-57, in the Middle School of Kulautuva, the Party Secretary, Teacher L. Gangapševa saw a small cross hanging from the neck of Teacher (Miss) S. Jasiūnaitė. Gangapševa reported his discovery to the Party Committee of the Kaunas region, and to the Department of Education.
To the school came Instructor Filomenova of the Party in Kaunas and summoning a hasty meeting of the teachers, discussed the offense of "the one who walks around with crosses." In the course of the meeting the instructor described the cross as a historical horror and as a threat to the Soviet Union, and Teacher Jasiūnaitė as a perpetrator of that threat.
"Such a person as this Jasiūnaitė shall not work in our school any longer!" exclaimed Filomenova, pounding the table with her fist.
However, Teacher Jasiūnaitė was not discharged from the school that year. Most probably this was prevented by Teacher Jasiūnaitė's proletarian origins. Born of a worker's family Miss Jasiūnaitė lost her father at the age of six, spent her childhood as a shepherdess working for farmers, and later, working as a serving girl, attended night school as an adult, and the Kaunas gymnasium for adults.
While teaching, she completed a correspondence course with the Teachers' Institute of Šiauliai. Thus, to hold Miss Jasiūnaitė an enemy of the Soviet system was absolutely awkward. In the regional meeting of the Workers' Council of Deputies, it was suggested that she be rehabilitated.
Party Secretary Strielchev, summoning Teacher Jasiūnaitė, expressed regret that she, a representative of the working class, went against the Soviet system and he advised her to say that she did wear the cross, but as an ornament or trinket.
During the summer of 1958, Teacher Jasiūnaitė was summoned to the Ministry of Education. Chief of the Cadre Section A. Paškaus-kas told her that she would be transferred from the middle school of Kulautuva.
"What for?" the teacher asked.
"Is it true that you had a cross?"
"It is true."
"Did you have it as an ornament or as a religious object? "The cross is no plaything to me. I value it as a symbol of faith." "Then you are a believer?" "Yes, I believe."
Paškauskas went off to consult with someone, and later took Teacher Jasiūnaitė to Assistant Minister (Miss) Vyšniauskaitė. The latter repeated similar questions about the cross, and receiving the same answers, said that Teacher Jasiūnaitė would not be able to work in the school, or in any office connected with ideological work.
A few days later Miss Jasiūnaitė received a written notice of dismissal: "Jasiūnaitė, Stasė, daughter of Vincas, is discharged from her duties as teacher at the middle school of Kulautuva, effective September 1, 1958."
Miss Jasiūnaitė appealed in writing to the Ministry of Education, requesting them to explain the reason for her dismissal. After repeated inquieries, the Ministry of Education authorized the regional
Department of Education to explain verbally to Miss Jasiūnaitė the reasons for her dismissal.
After her dismissal, Miss Jasiūnaitė looked around for employment. In November, 1958, she was accepted as a worker in the kitchen of the Kulautuva Tuberculosis Sanatorium. Her acceptance was processed by the assistant director. Upon her return from courses, Directress (Miss) R. Caikauskaitė discharged Miss Jasiūnaitė from her position. When Miss Jasiūnaitė asked that she be given at least a job as charwoman, the directress only made fun of her, saying that she was a teacher and should go to work in a school.
In vain Miss Jasiūnaitė complained to the government of the Kaunas region, and to the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR, asking to be reinstated as a worker at the Tuberculosis Sanatorium. The Executive Committee of the Region of Kaunas used to answer for all of them, saying that they did not run an employment office and that they were not obliged to find work for her.
It became apparent that government representatives of Kulautuva and representatives of the regional government had agreed not to give Miss Jasiūnaitė work. In the summer of 1959, Directress Astrauskas of the children's sanatorium "Kregždutė" hired Miss Jasiūnaitė as a medical aide.
Upon finding out, Party member Dr. Bivelienė warned the director and within a week Jasiūnaitė was discharged from her job.
Finally in 1959, Miss Jasiūnaitė applied to Secretary Nikita Krushchev, of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR. The Executive Committee of the Kaunas region received orders to give Miss Jasiūnaitė a job, but not in school.. .
For further information, or to help the Persecuted Christians in Lithuania, please contact:
Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid
6409 56th Road
Maspeth, L.I., New York 11378