The bloody stories of Lithuania

Excerpt from the book "Lithuania's Struggle for Freedom"

Povilas Peleckas was born on 24 January 1924 into a farming family in the village of Silagalis in the Panevezys district. He attended Silagalis primary school. Later he helped his parents on the farm. In 1944 when the USSR invaded and occupied Lithuania for the second time (first time was in 1940), Povilas was due for conscription into the Red Army. He refused to go. When a local partisan unit was formed, led by Major Januskevicius, Povilas joined the fighters. In September 1945 many of the members of the unit were killed in battle, and another 3 were killed at the beginning of December. Those who remained alive determined to join a larger partisan unit. But fate was against them.

A few days before Christmas, on 22 December 1945, Povilas came home to change his clothes, get some warmer garments, and to spend a day at home. That day his father had gone to Panevezys to collect his son and daughter who went to school there and bring them back home for Christmas. Povilas and his mother were the only two at home. In the morning they went out to feed the farm animals. On the way back from the pens Povilas began to sing a partisan song: «To die young is hard, unless it's for the homeland. For my native Lietuva, I'm prepared to give my young life.»

His mother scolded him: "You know that it's not right to sing during Advent." When they got back to the cottage they heard their dog barking. Through the window they could see soldiers approaching. The soldiers were still in the distance, so Povilas had enough time to hide in the bunker, and his mother covered it up. The bunker seemed safe, as more than one partisan had already sought refuge there more than once.

The mother went out into the yard to meet the soldiers. They asked her if her son was at home, and if so, whether he was alone. They went into the cottage and immediately began a search. The first thing they did was to shoot at the floor, to see if it sounded hollow. They ripped up the floor in the large room, but found nothing under it. In the kitchen they moved a cupboard, tipping the contents on the floor. They suspected that there was a bunker here, even though they could not see an entrance. They began to dig up under the floor. They were holding the mother; if anyone they found offered resistance, they would shoot her. They dug out the bunker entrance and shot a volley of machine gun fire into it. They chased the mother out, and soon they dragged Povilas' body out. They asked her if it was her son. She indicated that it was. All this had taken about 5 hours.

It was about 500 metres from the Peleckas house to the road. It wasn't possible to drive up to the house in a vehicle. The soldiers found some chains and with them they tied up Povilas' body and dragged it the 500 metres to the road. The mother was forced to follow along behind. When they got to a vehicle they threw Povilas' body into it and made the mother sit next to the body. They went to KGB headquarters in Panevezys, where they threw Povilas' body into the courtyard while they imprisoned his mother in their cellars. Povilas' body lay there for nearly two weeks. Every day his mother had to walk by on the way to the interrogation chamber. They let her go after two weeks and she came home and told the rest of the family what had happened.

The family found out that the bodies of Povilas and his friends had been dumped in the little wood of Kaizerlingas. Helped by some good people, they came at night and found their son's body, brought it home and buried it in the village cemetery at Silagalis.

Povilas Peleckas was 21 years old.

Translated by Gintautas Kaminskas

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