On May 23, 1984, Class 11B Homeroom teacher, Mrs. Mikolaitienė, told her pupil, Miss Juratė Kaplanaitė, that because she had greeted a returned prisoner, and had prayed publicly in church with everyone else for the imprisoned pastor, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, she would not be allowed to take final examinations. Vice Principal Mrs. S. Balutienė accused Juratė of anti-Soviet activity and called her morally degenerate, even though in parents' meetings, the girl used to be praised, and no fault had been found with her.
The parents took a petition to the Minister of Education, protesting against such behavior by the teachers. Only on the second try were they able to get in to see the minister for a short while, practically forcing their way in. The minister stated that he could do nothing, that he would have to investigate everything in person, and for that he had no time. "Most of the jurisdiction in this matter rests with the Rayon Department of Education, go see them," the Minister of Education told the parents.
To: The Minister of Education of the Lithuanian SSR From: Salomėja Kaplanienė, Daughter of Rapolas
Raseinių Raj., Viduklės apylinkė
Viduklės gel. st. Darbininkų g.
Honorable Minister, I appeal to you in the matter of my daughter, Jūratė Kaplanaitė. My daughter is a student in the Middle School of Viduklė. She finished the eleventh class, and without indicating any cause, they would not allow her to take the graduation examination. Already during the school year, my daughter was warned that for anti-Soviet activity, she would not be allowed to to take the examination. (Following the arrest of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas in 1982, Jūratė and her sister Asta were interrogated by the KGB in the principal's office. See Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 56 — Trans. Note.)
At the end of the school year, her conduct mark was lowered for the same reason. Just before the final bell, her homeroom teacher told her that she would not be able to take the examination on account of anti-Soviet activity. I do not understand what anti-Soviet activity is. My daughter is a believer, and goes to church; surely, neither of those things is anti-Soviet activity! Principal A. Kuodis has explained to me that she is being prevented from taking the examination, not on account of her religion, not because of anti-Soviet activity, but because three years ago, the girl had given an ex-convict some flowers, and maintains contacts with convicts. Again, I do not understand where or what kind of ties she maintains with convicts. The girl has never gone to visit convicts. Why is my daughter being so strangely accused? I requested the principal for a copy of the decision by the Teachers' Council. They gave me none. They explained that the Executive Committee had told them not to give me any, and Vice Principal Mrs. S. Balutienė began insulting me, saying that my girl was a moral degenerate. In our school, some girls, an eighth-class pupil and a ninth-class pupil, are expecting babies, but still they are allowed to take the examination. It means that this is moral. But my daughter is called a moral degenerate because she goes to church.
When I wanted to pick up the promised copy, the principal explained that the Executive Committee had told him not to issue it, so in school I have received no copy.
Other believing children are also being threatened by teachers, who say that they will receive the same treatment as Jūratė.
Honorable Minister, please explain these complicated matters, and allow my daughter to take the examination.
At the end of the school year in 1984, Miss Valda Bakanaitė, a tenth-class student at the Viduklė Middle School, had her conduct mark lowered to satisfactory, on grounds that she had greeted Vytautas Vaičiūnas when he returned from prison. The pupil was made to stand in front of the class, so that all might agree that her conduct mark had been justly lowered. When her classmates would not agree, the angry homeroom teacher threatened to summon the KGB.
On May 24, 1984, Eleventh-Class Homeroom Teacher Žakienė, of Kybartai Middle School, told pupil Romas Žemaitis of that class that he would not be allowed to take final examinations. She gave as a reason an incident which took place a few days earlier, involving Žemaitis and tenth-class pupil Merkevičius. Romas, seeing a neighbors' boy crying in the schoolyard, and knowing that he had been beaten by a pupil from one of the upper grades, demanded that the bully apologize. The latter asked his friend Merkevičius to repay Romas. Žemaitis was forced to defend himself. A meeting of the Teachers' Council, disregarding the fact that Romas was innocent in the affair, decided not to allow him to take final examinations. On May 28, the parents of Romas Žemaitis went to the LSSR Ministry of Education with their son, where they filed a petition with Minister of Education Spurga, in which they explained that the real reason for not allowing Romas to take examinations was his religious beliefs. A year earlier he had been threatened that because of his active participation in church life, he would not be allowed to take the examinations. In the Eleventh Class, after his participation in the trial of Father
Sigitas Tamkevičius, he was again threatened with expulsion from school, and with disqualification from the examinations. (See Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 60 — Trans. Note) Fourteen pupils who witnessed the incident signed the petition, in which the circumstances surrounding the event with Tenth-Class pupil Merkevičius were set forth in detail, along with the statement that Romas had been terrorized all year long on account of his religion.
When the militia and KGB were trying to find out who had raised the tricolor on the school powerhouse chimney the night of February 15, and written anti-Soviet slogans on the walls of the Kybartai City Hall, Post Office and other city buildings, searches were carried out at the Žemaitis home, February 17 and 22, under the pretext that they were looking for a stolen moped and its parts. In the interrogations which took place after the search, the KGB and militia "forgot", as it were, the "sought-after" moped. During the interrogations, Romas Žemaitis and his brothers, Arvydas and Edmundas, Tenth-Class, were pressured to admit that they had raised the flag and written on the walls of the buildings. The whole time, Romas was threatened with prison. Minister of Education Spurga became interested in finding out whether Romas was a believer. He asked him to recite the Ten Commandments, and without saying anything definite, sent him to Inspector Kairys. The latter said that the incident would be investigated.
On May 31, Inspector Žilinskas and Mrs. Pakrosnevičienė of the Department of Education questioned pupils who had signed the petition. The pupils again affirmed that Romas was innocent. Since most of those who had signed were members of the Communist Youth League, the school administration threatened that their defense of Romas would not be forgiven. They also stated that Communist Youth League members have to know what to sign and what not to sign. He emphasized that they were getting involved in politics.
On May 31, another meeting of the Teachers' Council took place, during which the decision was confirmed to disqualify Romas Žemaitis from the examinations.
In November, 1983, Kaunas Middle School 15 Vice Principal, Miss L. Urbanavičiūtė, summoned to her office two Fifth-Class pupils, Danguolė Žukaitytė and Laimutė Marazaitė. The Vice Principal asked whether the girls went to church. When they admitted it, she tried to embarass them, saying that it was shameful to study in a Soviet school and to go to church. She tried to convince them that these were two incompatible matters, since the church is separated from the school. Laimutė Marazaitė tried to explain to the vice principal that if the state does not want religiously believing children to attend Soviet school, they should build them a separate school. The vice principal's inquiry, which other children go to church, the girls met with silence. Getting nowhere, Vice Principal Urbonavičiūtė said that even without them, she knew all of the pupils of Middle School 15.
This was not the first time that Danguolė Žukaitytė and Laimutė Marazaitė had been questioned like this.
In December, 1983, the Director of the Kaunas City Department of Education issued an order to the principals of all Lithuanian schools in the City of Kaunas to arrange discoteques on December 24, in which pupils were to participate in the greatest numbers possible. Some class leaders, receiving such a directive from their principal, repeatedly invited the pupils, and even demanded that every last one of them participate in the discoteque that evening. In some schools, threats were made that those who did not participate would have to write explanations.
In this way, an attempt was made to tear children from the family hearth, so that they would not celebrate Christmas Eve with their parents, and would not be able to participate at Mid -night Mass, and that in the excitment of the dance, they would forget the religious traditions of their family and nation.
Krakės (Kėdainiai Rayon)
On December 17, 1983, Mrs. Šepaitienė, principal of the Krakės Middle School, stated during a parents' meeting that in the future, children who attended church would have their conduct mark lowered, regardless of whether their scholastic marks were perfect.
In December, 1983, Mrs. Vaičiūnienė, a teacher at the Rokiškis School of Culture, summoned Jolanta Jurgelevičiūtė, a pupil of hers who is a religious believer, and explained to her that cultural work was incompatible with religion and church attendnnce. On January 4, 1984, Miss Jurgelevičiūtė was summoned co the principal's office where a stranger waited to speak with her. After questioning Jolanta about her studies and her family, and learning that the pupil is a believer, goes to church and therefore has not joined the Communist Youth League, the man offered to have a similar talk with her every day. Jolanta would not agree, saying that there was no need for empty talk.
When Miss Jurgelevičiūtė specifically demanded that the stranger introduce himself and explain why he was concerned about her, and after she stated that she if he did not introduce himself, she refused to speak with him any further, the stranger tried to tell her that Jolanta was speaking not her own words, but coached by someone, until finally after some silence he introduced himself as a representative from the Communist Youth League. Miss Jurgelevičiūtė did not respond to any further explanations or advice from the stranger.
In February, the school principal spoke with Miss Jurgelevičiūtė about religion. She explained that Jolanta was very bright, but regarding religion, she was mistaken, so everyone wished to help her.
"Principal, it is not I who am mistaken, but you. Generally speaking, I am an adult, and so I am fully responsible for my actions. Thank you for your desire to help me, but I don't need your help." Jolanta Jurgelevičiūtė told the principal.
Jolanta's parents came to school to speak with the principal about their daughter. The principal, agreeing with the parents that their daughter was bright and studied well, and that this was why the school had increased her subsidy, then began accusing the parents of going astray themselves, and said that this was why the daughter was poorly reared. In the principal's words, "When anyone mentions religion, Jolanta gets her back up like a porcupine. Cultural work is atheistic work."
On March 4 (A Sunday — Trans. Note), all students of the School of Culture had strict orders not to go home. (That day, in all churches of Lithuania, the 500-Year Jubilee of the Death of Saint Casimir was commemorated. — Ed. Note) On March 5, Jolanta Jurgelevičiūtė was summoned by Vice Principal Sinkevičienė and told to explain in writing why she had disobeyed and gone home March 4, without participating in a scheduled concert.
When Jolanta explained that she had run out of money, the vice principal could not restrain herself. "You went to church!" she said. This was followed by an atheistic diatribe, during which Miss Jurgelevičiūtė remained silent. That very evening, the school principal, summoning Miss Jurgelevičiūtė, told her that as of March 6, she was expelled from the Rokiškis School of Culture.
On February 2 1984, Lina Merčaitytė, a pupil at the Kapsukas School of Culture, residing at Alyvų la, was summoned to the Kapsukas Prosecutor's Office. The assistant prosecutor asked whether militiamen had broken down her door on January 28, who had the key, had she really been in the bathroom when the militia knocked on the door, and did they really try to break into the bathroom?
On February 7, 1984, Miss Jolanta Kalvaitytė, a pupil at the School of Culture, was asked the same questions. Principal Jonuška of the School of Culture, arguing that the owner of the apartment, Miss Genovaitė Navickaitė, was too young, and could draw them into "the black market", demanded that both girls check out of Alyvų la as quickly as possible, and move into a student dormitory.
Lina Merčaitytė's mother, Mrs. Genė Merčaitienė, came to the School of Culture to inquire why her daughter was being forced to check out, and told Principal Jonuška that no one was interfering with Lina's studies at her place of residence, and that she did not agree to allow her daughter to move to the dormitory.
In 1984, as the Easter holidays approached, pupils in the Varėna city schools were warned not to participate in services. On Easter Day, specially assigned officials watched pupils participating in the services and procession. After Easter, the "education" of those seen in the procession and participants in the services began. The schoolchildren were pressured to betray their friends who had participated in the services or procession, and they were warned not to go to church. One of the schoolchildren was warned that if he continued to participate actively in services and would not betray his friends, his aunt who took care of him would be discharged from work as a streetsweeper.
Dubičiai (Varėna Rayon)
Dubičiai Middle School students, on directions from rayon officials, are obliged on the more important religious holidays to participate in various affairs. On the first day of Easter, a sports festival was organized, scheduled to begin at 8:00 AM, when the resurrection services begin in church. Only later, when the teachers became convinced that the students would never gather so early on Sunday, the rayon government allowed the track and field meet to begin a couple of hours later.
On Pentecost, solemn Forty Hours devotions take place in the church of Dubičiai. On Pentecost Sunday, the school was ordered to organize an obligatory field trip.
Simnas (Alytus Rayon)
On April 29 and May 3, 1984, Class Eight-B Homeroom Teacher, Mrs. L. Žilionienė, told the class about an alleged anonymous letter she had received, calumniating the beliefs and conduct of pupil Reda Tarasevičiūtė and the anonymous letter libeling her behavior. On May 8 1984, Mrs. Petronė Tarase-vičienė, Reda's mother, directed a petition to the Lithuanian Minister of Education, the Alytus Rayon Department of Education, and the Principal of Simnas Middle School, demanding that the moral wrong done to her daughter be righted, otherwise, the daughter would not be allowed to go to school.
"The homeroom teacher, allegedly basing herself on an anonymous letter, ridiculed my daughter for going to church and for flirting at too early an age with boys of the same persuasion," Mrs. Tarasevičienė wrote in her petition.
On April 15, 1984, Mrs. Petronė Tarasevičienė was summoned to the Alytus Rayon Department of Education. In the presence of Director Makštutis, Teacher Žilionienė admitted that she had done wrong, and offered the excuse that she had been nervous, and that the reading of the letter had been cleared with the principal. Teacher Žilionienė refused to apoligize publicly to the pupil, explaining that this would lower her authority among her pupils. Principal Makštutis admitted that the teacher had acted unjustly by humiliating the pupil, but an apology, in his opinion, was not necessary.
Makštutis warned Mrs. Tarasevičienė that for not allowing her daughter to go to school, she would be fined 30 rubles.
Tauragnai (Utena Rayon)
On April 30, 1984, the faithful of Tauragnai were preparing for the silver jubilee of the priesthood of their pastor, Father Bronius Šlapelis. The teachers at Tauragnai Middle School became interested in the celebration. They demanded that on the day of the celebration, the students not go to church. Fifth-Class Homeroom Teacher Belapetravičius warned his charges that on April 30, representatives from the rayon party committee, the executive committee and of the school, would make a list of all pupils who had been in church.
Lithuanian, do not forget!
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas Father Sigitas Tamkevičius Docent Vytautas Skuodis Jadvyga Bieliauskienė Sergei Kovalev Gintautas Iešmantas Povilas Pečeliūnas Viktoras Petkus Antanas Terleckas Julius Sasnauskas Balys Gajauskas
and others bear the chains of imprisonment that you might live and believe freely!