Father Sigitas Tamkevičius.
Father Sigitas Tamkevičius writes:
"The morning of June 21 was my first after the operation... How good it was to read words wishing me well.
"This is how I wound up in Staro Sainokov. On May 18, at 5:00 P.M., I returned as usual after work to the barracks. They summoned me to the office, fingerprinted me, and told me to bring all my things. After a search, they took me to the Vsiesviatskaya Station, and put me in a stolypin (a prisoner transport car - Trans. Note). Here I found that I was on the way to Tomsk.
"The next day, I was in the Sverdlovsk jail. I spent several days in the cell, and the night of May 22, continued my journey. Through Tuimen, Omsk, and Novosibirsk, we rolled into Mariinsk (Region of Kemerov).
"After feeding the bedbugs for one night, we headed back toward Tomsk. By May 27, we were in the Tomsk prison. They let me choose between a shared cell, or a single cell. I chose the latter, because I had already seen enough of criminals' faces, and heard enough of their talk. My cell was much smaller than the common cell, and drafty. But there were no ravenous little creatures, and after cleaning up, I felt quite well, and thought to myself, 'I can make a retreat!'
"My masters, as though inspired from above, did not begrudge me the time. I wanted very much to get out as soon as possible, but I also wanted to finish what I had begun. Since I was in Tomsk from May 27 to June 10, there was enough time for everything.
"The evening of June 10, they brought me to Krivoshain. In here, after spending Saturday and Sunday at the militia station, Monday afternoon, I received my documents and they took me to the office of the Volodin Soviet farms, and from here, to the Village of Staro Sainokov.
"In one village, Pirkis, is a farm workers' 'dormitory' where two hoboes and I live. In my life, I had never seen such a dormitory, so I gawked at everything. My neighbors were not inimically disposed, but were such wondrous housekeepers that in the rooms, on the table and on the floor were potato peels, trash, cigarette butts, etc. "At midnight, they are still making tea or supper. The 'Siberian parachutists' did not allow any further sleep, and sated with blood, only quieted down before morning.
"I showed the guards my 'dormitory' and they promised to give me better facilities. Since after all the prison transports my old problems made me suffer unbearably, and in such a condition I was not very capable of feeding the cattle, I went to the hospital and the next day, June 21, they performed the operation.
"I don't feel bad at all. I try to sit up and to move about a bit. That is all — or perhaps not all — but it is impossible to collect all the 'gems'. I offered everything up to God, and thanked God after five years of camp and seven transports. I am such as I am.
"I have not brought with me from the camp any hatred, but only pity -- Lord, forgive everyone!
"On May 18,1 left Father Alfonsas in Zone 35. He believed strongly that both of us would be going home. It was difficult to part with him. They will probably allow him to go to the West. His arguments are serious. I could not
apply them to myself, so I replied to Lt. Col. Radzevičius's request in the negative, and today, I am here in Siberia. May the Lord's Holy Will be done. The road to heaven via Siberia is no longer than that via Lithuania.
"Give my regards to everyone who has accompanied me with their prayers on my journey through the Urals, Mordovia and Siberia. Let us remain one in prayer."
From a letter of Balys Gajauskas:
"... In Lithuania, it is already Spring. The fields and meadows have turned green, the land will soon adorn itself in various colors, and the orchards will be white. Christ is risen, and I believe that we too, shall rise!
"For our nation's 'veil of tears', a strong spirit is necessary. If we maintain a strong spirit, we shall overcome all hardships. There are mountains of work and difficulties. With the help of God, we shall overcome and accomplish everything.
"It seems to be getting warm here. People are enjoying the early Spring. The snow has not melted yet, and there is still a frost, but Spring is just around the corner. I miss warmth, sun, greenness and water so much.
"During the winter, my blood pressure would rise quite often, causing me great discomfort and making me unproductive. Toward Spring, I have improved. I wish everyone God's blessing."
From Petras Gražulis' place of confinement:
Petras Gražulis, sentenced under Par. 211 of the Criminal Code, is serving sentence in the general regime prison camp OC-8 in Pravieniškiai.
On April 10,1988, prisoner Gražulis, protesting against his imprisonment with criminals, sent a petition to the Procurator of the L.S.S.R. In the petition, he describes how after his trial, in the sight of everyone, officers beat him and quickly dragged him from the courtroom, so that he did not have time even to pick up his things, food, or papers. All the less, to say goodbye to his family. Later, out of sight of people, they sprayed him with chemicals which take the breath away, as a result of which, his face swelled up and his skin became red.
Immediately after the trial, they took him to Lukiškiai Prison in Vilnius where, during a visit with his sisters, Monika Baciuškienė and Albina Gražulytė, when he began to explain why his face was red, officers eavesdropping on the conversation broke off the visit.
During a visit with his brothers, Fathers Antanas Gražulis and Kazimieras Gražulis, administration staff also forbade him to touch on this topic, but they did not cut the visit short.
After the visit, Chief of the Operations Section Lt. Col. Adomaitis tried to force prisoner Gražulis to sign a report saying that during the visit he had broken prison rules. For that, they deprived him of his next visit.
Gražulis, arguing that he had merely made use of the freedom of speech operative in "the world's most democratic country", refused to sign the report. Lt. Col. Adomaitis reprimanded the prisoner in obscene language, threatened to put him in labor camp for twenty years, and to tell the prisoners that he is an informer, etc.
On March 8, Gražulis was brought to Pravieniškiai Camp, and several days later, was assigned to the 21st Brigade of the Second Group, made up of convicts who had betrayed prisoners through the prison administration and prisoners who had committed some other transgression. When this brigade passes by, inmates of the camp throw various objects at them, spit at them and ridicule them in every way. Accused as an informer, Gražulis even in this brigade, is surrounded with individuals spying on him personally.
The prisoner requested three times to be transferred to another brigade. The camp administration would not consent.
In his petition, Gražulis requests the procurator to allow him to have the scriptures, a prayerbook and a rosary. Such things they allowed prisoners to have, not only in the Czars' prisons, but in Hitler's concentration camps. If the request is not honored, Gražulis has resolved to go on a hunger strike until he receives the articles he wants.
For going on hunger strikes, the camp administration puts prisoners in punishment cells and metes out other penalties.
On May 10,1988, Father Kazimieras Gražulis went to the Pravieniškiai Labor Camp for the purpose of giving his brother, who was confined there, the scriptures, prayerbook and rosary requested by him. The camp director called Father Gražulis a parasite, a destroyer of culture, and without even deigning to explain on what basis, refused to accept the aforesaid articles.
From May 13-28,1988, Petras Gražulis was sentenced to a punishment cell. Camp Director Col. Arlauskas explained to his relatives the reason for the punishment - "For failing to take his assigned seat when eating". (In reality, the prisoner was eating in the place assigned to him.)
In protest against the unjust punishment, Gražulis, while in the punishment cell, proclaimed a hunger strike.
Upon completion of his stay in the punishment cell, physically weakened, he was placed in the camp hospital. By orders of Col. Arlauskas, Gražulis was discharged from the hospital and on June 8, once again sent to the punishment cell, this time, because during his last stay in the punishment cell, he had fasted.
On June 9, Director Arlauskas informed Gražulis's brother, Father Kazimieras Gražulis, who was visiting the camp, "When he gets out, we'll lock him up for another fifteen days; we have the reason for it."
To Father Gražulis's remonstration that this was inhuman, and the world would know about it, Col. Arlauskas sarcastically replied that relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S.A., in his opinion, would surely not deteriorate just because of someone like Petras Gražulis.
Gintautas Iešmantas writes:
"... Thank you for the letter full of good, warm words. Those words are a real elixcr for the heart. When one feels the goodness of people, the sensitivity of simple souls and their ability to understand, things become brighter and easier. The cross which one gets to carry by one's own choice becomes not so heavy and the way seems not so thorny. Today, it is incomparably better for us than for those who walked the way of exile and imprisonment forty or more years ago. They are the ones who were real heroes and martyrs! Unknown, isolated, condemned to cold, hunger, and death. When I think of them, my pain and misfortune pale by comparison. And no one was able to help them... and we -- there is no comparison.
"You know that you are not alone, that there are many, many hearts with you. As for the truth and justice of which you speak... I must say I do not expect it. So that it might be clearer what and how, I am presuming to enclose a poem, after reading which you will understand. Of course, it is not written about myself, it is generalized, and therefore containing some similarities, it explains some things about me. It is too bad that it is very long, and therefore, on the boring side. However, have the patience to read it. It is called 'The Prophet'. An eternal theme."
What are you listening for, mule, O prophet,
To the thundering depths? It seems as though
the very flow of time has quickened. They rise from somnolence
like accursed, close-packed layers.
Once sleeping consciousness awakens. The dream,
Concealed in silence emerges,
unlike a flash of sunlight shone the thought.
What yesterday was thought still normal,
we now say was a vise and darkness.
Injustices and tears speak out... and hearts
confused begin to tremble: how much untruth,
how much deceit has been collected!
And how much there still exists! They shiver, who
built the fearsome castle of injustice...
Just look! Tlie pale curse
recedes already, writhing... is it not this
you longed for, when your pain, in a breath
flooding the soul hurled to the heavens
words which tore away the mask from lies,
revealed forbidden essence. How
beautiful you were then, how radiant was your face!
Benumbed, we stared, o're come with fear,
of what was now to be.... But you were not atremble,
you were straight and strong in adversity.
Though fury angrily cried out "Crucify him!
"Crucify him!" and the crowd applauded it.
Golgotha's sufferings awaited. As though a prize
you received them then as Blessing
in advance already knowing that you would endure
whatever destiny would bring... to all in heartache
you became a light and an example. So why,
So why dissatisfied and restless? What troubles you?
Surely it does not disturb the calm, that with it,
with your wishes'pennant rise
also they who, angered,
once besmirched you they stride, regardless,
they do not recognize you... it seems of old
they yearned for this and nothing more... you would think
they would take you and exaultyou. And for what?
Perhaps because you exposed
their vile weakness without pity? Quite the reverse!
They will never forgive you for it. Having sinned
by lies, now come to truth, they will attack and block.
And yet perhaps most painful is the fact
that they to whom you dedicated dreams
and courage like a hope, are even they unheeding
as it were, of what you did? ... But then you know
that it was always thus. Tlie world
pushes forward only so. Just wait,
it is only the beginning. And your clear voice
reached but a few souls... And besides,
it was not for glory that you undertook the task,
and not for her are you alive on earth...