Elena Tvarijonaitė–Gustienė

* 1934

  • “We were brought to the interrogation room at ten o’clock in the evening and brought back to the cell at four or five in the morning. We were ordered to get up at six, so there was no time for sleeping. If someone had tried dozing the warden immediately started knocking at the cell door and wakening. The lack of sleep was really agonizing. Everybody became yellowish like cheese. We got yellow in the prison even before the trial. Everybody was locked into punishment room as well. I had to stay there for 36 hours. The punishment room was knee deep filled with water, there was a log in the middle of the room, and one had to balance on it. We were not given any food, just water; we also had to empty our bowels at the same place.” Inquestor: So they wanted to break you down?” E.T.G.: “Yes.”

  • Inquestor: "Could you, please, tell us about the labour in the work camp? You were a young girl it is likely that you had to do hard labour? “E.T.G.: I was cutting timber and working as a logger in Kirov. At the beginning, after imprisonment, we were very weak. The other exiles were getting some parcels from Lithuania, since the whole our family was in exile we got no parcels. Our relatives were too intimidated by KGB, they were even afraid to write letters. We were afraid too, because we had been watched all the time. There was a standard norm of job which had to be done in the labour camp. If you couldn’t accomplish that norm, you were fined by reducing your food ration. For example, those people who had managed to accomplish the norm were given some soup, slice of bread, fish and porridge, and those who were not so successful were given only some soup and a slice of bread. There were 30Lithuanians in our brigade. We were diligent and hard working people. At the beginning we were not able to cut timber, but soon we got used to it. We managed to fulfil the norm and even to overtop it, so we were given more food.”

  • Inquestor: “Could you, please describe your neighbours’ reaction after you came from the exile?” E.T.G.: “They were ashamed. When we were arrested and kept locked in our own house, one woman came by cart. It was October, so there was a sheep butchered, there was some meat left, and some jam was prepared for winter. She put all the things into her cart and brought away. No one could believe that we would come back. Can you imagine our feelings while sitting locked in the room and our wealth is being plundered? There were some good neighbours too. When we returned to Lithuania after the exile we had nothing, even the spoon. There were some people who helped us very much.”

  • “Early in the morning we were still sleeping when the huge truck arrived. Our dad had got up earlier, so he came and woke us up saying that the end had come and we are going to be exiled. His words were: 'Let’s be as patient as possible, not to betray anyone. If we betray one person, they are going to torture us even harder so we’ll have to betray everybody.' Immediately the soldiers ran up to us, we were surrounded by them and separated out. I was put into one room, my mum into the other and closed. “Inquestor: “And you were brought to Panevėžys? “ E.T.G.: “No, they brought us to Šiauliai. We were put into prison in Šiauliai. The trail took place there. Before the trail in Šiauliai we were interrogated. Later, exactly on Christmas Eve and Christmas, on the 24th and the 25th December the trail took place. Together with us our associates Lebedis and Mitrius were tried. Mitrius still lives in Gudžiūnai. One of them was a storekeeper, and the other was a foreman. They were tried for bringing partisans some flour. But the man had to eat something. All of us, those who had supported partisans, were betrayed by Karaliūnas. Because of that all of us were tried at the same court. “Inquestor: “How long you were sentenced for?”E.T.G.: For twenty five years in Gulag camp and for five years we were not allowed to come back to Lithuania.”

  • "Our house had been observed since 1951. The KGB officers used to come to our house with long sticks and jab the ground everywhere, they were searching for the dugout. We had a box room and a bathhouse. The partisans had pitched the hiding place into the box room. We also kept potatoes there so no one could think of searching for partisans there. Sometimes KGB officers would come there, open the cover and would see only the potatoes and the other vegetables. In the summer when the box room was emptied we put there some vats and the other unnecessary things. When the partisans wanted to leave they would give us a sign and we would let them out. The KGB officers had been searching for this hiding place, but didn’t manage to find it. It was later, after the treason. The partisans kept lots of their documents in the box room. I am not sure whether we were right o not, but when we found out that we had been betrayed we burnt all the documents.” Inquestor: Who warned you that you had been going to be arrested?” E.T.G.: Lapė Prūsaitis, the partisan. He had been hiding for long time, till 1958. He had warned us that Karaliūnas was the traitor, which all of us were betrayed and there was no way out, just arrest."

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    Devynduoniai, Lietuva, 29.04.2011

    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Survivors testimonies
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My dad’s words were: Let’s be as patient as possible, not to betray anyone

Gustiene.jpg (historic)
Elena Tvarijonaitė–Gustienė

Elena Tvarijonaitė- Gustienė was born in 1934 in the village Devynduoniai, Kėdainiai district, Lithuania. Her parents Vktorija and Ipolitas were farmers. There were two more brothers. After finishing four grades in Devynduoniai, Elena worked on her parents’ farm. In 1949-1950 this farm was constantly visited by 5 partisans from Prisikėlimas district and their commander Juozas Paliūnas. The partisans were given food and temporary shelter here. Their hiding place was set in the box room. Elena had been preparing food for them. Since 1951 Elena parents’ farm was being watched by exterminators. One of her brothers – Antanas was mobilised to the Soviet Army. In 1952 Elena and her family were arrested and accused of partisan support. Her brother in Soviet Army was also arrested and accused of the same crime. In 1953 they were exiled to Siberia (initially family members were scattered and were imprisoned in Vilnius, later in Moscow). All the family members were sentenced to 25 years at hard labour camp. Elena was sent to women camp in taiga in Kirovskaja district (Russia). The main job was - timber cutting in taiga. There were 30 Lithuanian women in the brigade. They got well on with each other. In 1955 Elena was brought to Kemerov (Russia) camp and worked as an agriculture labourer. In 1956 the camp was visited by functionaries from Moscow, Elena was brought to trial and discharged. The same year she returned to Devynduoniai, Lithuania. Her father had already been at home. Her mother came back in 1960. The family settled at the same village, they used to live. Their neighbours felt shame of their own behaviour, because after Tvarijonai family had been arrested, they started dividing some household items. In Lithuania Elena worked in kolkhoz, got married, had 2 sons. At the age of 39 she became a widow. Presently Elena Tvarijonaitė-Gustienė is a pensioner, she sings in the church, writes songs and canticles.