At 10:00 AM on May 16, 1983, in the Supreme Court of Vilnius, the trial of Mrs. Jadvyga Bieliauskienė, a resident of Garliava, began. Mrs. Bieliauskienė was accused of collecting signatures under a petition to Petras Griškevičius, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, regarding the persecution of youth who are religious believers, of working with the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, organizing children in groups and organizing plays with a nationalist content.
Almost all the children and youths testifying as witnesses in the trial characterized Mrs. Bieliauskienė as a very good woman of high moral standards who is a religious believer. Principal Nausėda of Garliava Middle School I, said in his testimony that he was not acquainted with Mrs. Bieliauskienė, but since 1979, he had noticed that in the school which he administers, pupils from various grades, that is, of different ages, were getting together. Information was received that pupils who were religious believers gather together to celebrate birthdays. A resolution was passed that at such gatherings one of the teachers must be present.
The principal mentioned how some pupils — the Gluoksnys children, and Artur Slepkov — had resigned from the Communist Youth League. In his speech, he devoted quite a bit of attention to Mindaugas Babonas, describing how Mindaugas, in his schoolwork, had begun to capitalize "God". To warnings from teachers that this is a common noun and should not be capitalized, he replied, "It may be a common noun for you, but for me, it is a proper noun."
He described how it was necessary to turn Babonas' composition about peace over to the appropriate authorities. When the judge inquired who had such influence on the children, the principal replied that in his opinion, it was the former Associate Pastor of Garliava, Father Vaclovas Stakėnas.
The Defense Speech of Jadvyga Bieliauskienė May 17, 1983
"Long, long ago, It was said in Holy Writ, "The fool once said to himself, "There is no God!" '
"Wise men, prophets and seers Sang psalms and hymns, And altars were ablaze In honor of the God of Hosts.
"And that superhuman whisper, Like a black flame, the wind tossed From century to century, Until that tragic race was born Which began to repeat Those lethal words, There is no God! There is no God! Only man!
No heaven created him!'
And the tragic race
Chained up the truth,
And falsehood spread its wings."
For over a decade, I myself was a victim of the illness of our age, atheism. Those years left painful wounds in my soul and gave me a bitter experience concerning the mortal danger of unbelief. I believe it is Goethe who has said that a man who loses a fortune, loses much, but he loses much more when he loses his honor, and he becomes a hopeless beggar by losing faith.
Lithuania already knows what lack of faith means! It has already led Lithuania to the grave. People's lives become sad when self-love becomes the foundation of social interaction and the quest for pleasure becomes the purpose of life. Imperceptably, drunkenness and immorality spread — families begin to disintegrate. How many unhappy children and youths there are today, for whom the world is cold, dreary and unhospitable. Their parents are alive, but there is no family circle. Who will pay for the tears, the pain and the heartaches of these children; who will heal their wounded psyches?
There is a horrible plan to turn everyone into atheists. Much has already been accomplished in this regard by the terror of the Stalin Era and by the unjustifiable persecutions of today, which the Head of the Republic supports by his statement made in the Plenary Session of May 17, 1981, that it is necessary, "To strengthen by all means the bond of international and patriotic education with the struggle to eradicate religious anachronisms", and the unprecidented results are terrifying: drunkenness, immorality, venereal disease, abortion, the breakdown of the family, children withou parents, the loss of traditional values, the increase of insanity and increasing crime.
Regardless of these effects which are destroying the nation, the propagation of atheism, supported by the highest levels of government, is being given more intense and sophisticated impetus. If we continue to decline like this for another half-century, we will become a nation of alcoholics, criminals and idiots, gradually perishing in prisons, insane asylums, juvenile homes and hospitals.
Tell me, whether, seeing all this, one can keep quiet? Silence is betrayal. The very spirit of a nation calls through sensitive hearts which refuse to yield to intimidation; it calls through the lips of poets; it calls through the lips of those praying to the Mother of God. The children of Garliava venerate Mary in the Living Rosary, asking her to protect the youth of Lithuania from atheism, drunkenness and moral degeneracy. The children, inspired by prayer, strongly desired to become a cry for help. With the help of Bernardas Brazdžionis' poetry, they included that cry in a playlet for the Christmas holiday (1980).
May this children's cry become the cry of all Lithuanian youth, may this cry become in the hearts of every Lithuanian, a flaming altar to disperse the gloom of sinful atheism which has turned such large numbers of our finest brethren into pitiful clods. Lithuania will arise in God, and a nation living in God lives experiences with equanimity, both freedom and slavery, even though it lasts for a thousand years. Hearts aflame with the spirit of sacrifice, will tread the paths of suffering and strengthen the nation's spirit.
I'm on trial according to Par. 68, Part 1. They tell me that I tried to weaken the Soviet Union. Surely the strength of the Soviet Union does not lie in the attempt to assimilate and destroy small nations through atheism and dehumanization. When the question is posed this way, it is possible to understand why freedom of religion, conscience and criticism, guaranteed by the Constitution are crudely violated, and why people are constantly being put on trial. Seeking to perfect itself, developing its personality, youth practices religion and is crudely persecuted.
Because of this persecution, protests with the signatures of believers were sent to the Secretary of the Communist Party of Lithuania from all over the republic. The examples of persecution put forth in the protest are considered libelous, and weakening the Soviet Union. People who signed the complaint are investigated and considered to be criminals. People are being repressed and I am being tried as one who gathered signatures . . . An individual nation does not have the right to strive for its own moral health, to take treatment for spiritual leprosy, paralysis and plague. Can the profession of faith in God be a threat to the state? The moral decay of people — this is the real threat! Why are we not allowed to save ourselves in the face of such danger?
The investigators forced the children of Garliava to adopt their language, saying that in the play there was talk about the revival of bourgeois Lithuania. The play did not mention any system of government. In the presentation, Lithuania wept for its children, perishing in moral degredation, while here, a political incident was fabricated.
You can't trump up political cases, distort the truth; you will still not quench the thirst for survival. No one has the right to condemn small nations to extinction, as have the judges, persons in the government and agnostic intellectuals, saying that small nations are destined to disappear. Prosecutor Jurgis Bakučionis spoke thus to me, as did the interrogator during the reading of charges against me, April 6. It shall not be! It must not be!
Lithuania will rise in God: It will become cleansed, healthy and strong; then we will survive as Lithuanians, even though the system striving for the destruction of small nations lasts a thousand years. Do not be dismayed, children, that you were forced to give testimony against me, and false testimony at that. . .In order to resist the moral pressure of the investigators, it is necessary to be very strong: To love God and truth more than one's own life, but we do not become such people easily.
Do not abandon the rosary. The time will come when you will look death in the eyes courageously, unbroken, unconquered. There is no meaningless sacrifice. You wanted to become a cry on the lips of your homeland, and you asked me to help you. My abilities are light; I have no experience. Since there was no one else to do it, I tried my best. Rejoice that you are persecuted for the Truth . . . The free-will suffering of the innocent will shame unjust judges and they will tire trying Love, sacrificing itself for others. Your homeland will continue your cry, through the lips of other heroes . . .
I am weak; only by the grace of God and the prayers of good people am I alive. I am especially grateful to all and I ask you not to abandon me now. You must pray fervendy for prisoners, especially those under interrogation, and you must not forget those unfortunates who have distanced themselves from God . . .
How much I regret the eleven copies of Šapokas' Lietuvos istorija (History of Lithuania) which they took from me at the time of the raid. The history of our nation is being kept from us, hence this loss is incalculable. They will not return the books, they must be ceaselessly reproduced by all means at our disposal. I am accused on circumstantial evidence, and the mistaken conclusion of experts, of passing information on to the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. Judges, you should first of all try to see that people not be persecuted for religion, and then there will be no such publications.
I pray for the judges, and for the many informers. Their lives are tragic: It is their lot to persecute Truth. The time will come that they will understand that Truth cannot be sentenced — Truth sits in judgement on judges. It is impossible to kill Love, to imprison Freedom ... I am prepared for any sacrifice.
I am accused of nationalism. Back in his day, Vydūnas already raised the national consciousness of Lithuanians in Lithuania Minor, because according to him, people who lose their national couscious-ness become dehumanized ... I address all of you who have decided by deceit, persecution and trials to tear religion out of the people's hearts. I would like to ask: Do you know that in this way you condemn the masses to dehumanization? I ask you with all my love, as my brothers, do not take away people's faith, do not kill Lithuania.
(The defense speech has been condensed — Ed. Note.)
The prosecutor stated in his accusation that the guilt of Mrs. Bieliauskienė was demonstrated in the preliminary interrogation, but during the trial, some of the witnesses recanted their testimony, to the benefit of the accused. He accused Mrs. Bieliauskienė of fostering nationalist attitudes in her pupils, of distorting Soviet reality, of exalting Lithuania's past and its princes, of publishing in the illegal press (the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania) reports of a libelous nature concerning the persecution end interrogation of schoolchildren who are religious believers.
This was published in reactionary newspapers abroad: Draugas and Tėviškės Žiburiai. It was broadcast over Vatican Radio. The prosecutor stated that experts had determined that the information had been conveyed in the style of Mrs. Bieliauskienė, therefore it pointed to her. In his accusation, the prosecutor blamed the accused of working with priests: Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius and of collecting signatures to protest against the persecution of youth who are religious believers.
He reminded the court that Mrs. Bieliauskienė, during the postwar years, maintained contacts with the bourgeois nationalists (the partisans — Lithuanian freedom - fighters — Ed Note), distributed proclamations and for this, had been sentenced to twenty-five years of imprisonment. Later, the sentence was reduced to ten years, and with two years remaining to the end of the sentence, she was released. The prosecutor maintained that Mrs. Bieliauskienė did not learn he lesson, and once free, further engaged in anti-Soviet activity.
Mrs. Bieliauskienė declaimed a large part of her final speech in verse, drawing on J. Marcinkevičius' Ugnies poema (The Poem of Fire), Bernardas Brazdžionis' poem, Atleisk man, Viešpatie (Forgive me, Lord) and the words of P. Širvys. Her basic thought was as follows:
"I ask, I pray you,
My brothers in painful concern,
Born from the womb of Lithuania, my judges,
do not kill the sons of the thrush,
Of that loving, pure, young
Heart rising to God,—
Do not kill it! . . .
I pray, I call, I beg you!. . . .
"But the black hand of unbelief
Which we ourselves raised over ourselves . . .
It kills the thrushes, it kills love.
"As a painful, painful wound, this experience I hear. So I beg you, my brothers, Children of Lithuania, remove that black hand from the blue sky,
that the thrushes might not perish . . . Let them harbinger the spring!. . . Let Love's sun arise
over the tundra of hate! .... Let them! . . ."
The Supreme Court sentenced Mrs. Bieliauskienė to four years of strict regime labor camp and three years of exile.