Background. With the USSR collapsed, Russia and other post-Soviet states faced an “archive revolution” which enabled historians to use testimonies received by the Joint State Political Directorate for their research work. Nevertheless, verification procedure of information in these sources still remains poorly developed. This paper is aimed at application of basic testimony verification methods to a particular case, namely testimony given by A. Povilaitis, former Head of the State Security Service of Lithuania, within investigation in 1940–1941. His evidence significantly affects modern conception of the events in 1939–1940 in the Baltic states, as well as motivation of Moscow in summer 1940. Thus, the issue of this evidence is of vital importance for scientific studies.
Materials and methods. The paper refers to sources received from six archives in different countries: Branch of the Estonian State Archive (Eesti Riigiarhiivi filiaal), the Latvian State Archive (Latvijas Valsts Arhīvs), the Lithuanian State Archive (Lietuvos centrinis valstybes archyvas), the Lithuanian Special Archive (Lietuvos yapatingas archyvas), the Political Archive of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Politische Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts) and the Archive of the Central Office of the Federal Republic of Germany for investigation of National Socialistic Crimes in Ludwigsburg). The basic method of NKVD testimony verification used in the research was proposed by S. Zhuravlev in 2004 and upgraded by this paper author in 2018 in a dedicated study. This method consists of a two-stage analysis of verification of evidence. At the first (preliminary) stage a researched is supposed to ascertain if the case was planned to go public; whether there are any information testifying using of tortures, whether an investigator focused exclusively on materials compromising a suspect; whether testimonies are vague and stereotyped; if a suspect changed his behaviour during the investigation unexpectedly. Answering these questions, a researcher can make an assumption about verity or falsification of a suspect’s testimony. At the second (final) stage of the analysis, verification will be provided with the help of independent sources. This paper contains the results of the first (preliminary) stage of analysis of A. Povilaitis’ evidence; the results of the second stage of the research are to be published separately.
Results. For the first time in historiography, the course of NKVD investigation against A. Povilaitis is scientifically examined, analysis of the evidence and its changes is conducted, profiles of the NKVD investigators performing the interrogations have been analyzed. We carefully examined the issue of political significance of A. Povilaitis’ testimony, checked the probability of using tortures for receiving the desired evidence by investigators, as well as probability of falsification of the evidence by them. As a result of the conducted research, preliminary assumptions have been made about probable falsification of the evidence of the purged man.
Conclusions. Summing up of the first (preliminary) stage of analysis of A. Povilaitis’ testimony, we fail to give a full and complete answer about their verity. Political significance of this criminal case and the panel of investigators clearly point that falsification was highly likely. At the same time, detailed examination of the evidence and the way of their receiving on the contrary provides a lot of arguments confirming information fixed in the records of interrogations and A. Povilaitis’ own testimony. For this reason, at the second stage of our analysis we are going to ascertain if the evidence are confirmed with independent sources and to what extension if positive. This is the only way we can close the door on the set question of verity of A. Povilaitis’ testimony.
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