Biography of Father Witold Paszkiewicz

Born in 1882 in Strugi Krasnye, outside St. Petersburg. Graduated from high school and took the entrance examination for pharmacy school; he later graduated from the Archdiocesan Seminary in St. Petersburg and was ordained in 1906. From 1908 he was vicar of the parish in Kleck; from 1909 he was administrator of the parish in Świeciƚowicze; he also served in Janotrud, outside Poƚock. In 1922 he became Vicar General of that part of the Diocese of Minsk that lay within the USSR; from 1926 he was administrator of the parish in Rukszenice and other villages outside Poƚock. From 1927 he served in a parish in Mogiliev, and at that time Bishop Bolesƚaw Sloskan appointed him Vicar General [of the Archdiocese of Mogiliev?]. He was subjected to constant repressions by the GPU. In the autumn of 1927 he was arrested in Mogiliev. January 31, 1938 – presented with the charges: “organization of demonstrations by the faithful for the release of Bishop Sloskan and creation of counter-revolutionary clubs (Rosary, Heart of Jesus, Heart of Mary, St. Francis, St. Joseph, St. Anthony).” He was released from prison on his own recognizance. During the night of January 26/27, 1930, he was again arrested on charges of contacts with representatives of the Vatican and connections with Catholics in Poland, and “inciting hostile attitudes toward the Soviet regime.” One of the witnesses at an interrogation about Fr. Witold stated: “Paszkiewicz said that the Catholic faith is being persecuted in the Soviet Union, that they [the authorities] try to commit outrages against the faith, even to the point of persecutions of the faithful, just as they had previously done against the Uniates. We must join forces, believe in God – we must stigmatize those who betray religion; and he warned the faithful that they must be careful.” May 13, 1930 – sentenced under Articles 67 and 72(b) of the Criminal Code of the Belorussian SSR to five years in corrective labor camp [Special Board, GPU Collegium, Belorussian Military District]. July 28, 1930 – term of punishment under Articles 58-6 and 58-10 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR increased to ten years [OGPU Collegium]. In July 1931 he was sent to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp where he was at first held in the fortress on the main island and then transported to Anzer Island as a convict who was “very resolute in the expression of his views.” According to a description given by the camp administration, he “worked unsatisfactorily, fulfilling 80 percent of the norm, but he was not subjected to penalties, he did not participate in social and cultural measures; his attitude toward work and his behavior were unsatisfactory, undisciplined, and anti-Soviet.” In another entry he was described as “pedantic, religious; he observes order; although he is an invalid he fulfills 15 to 20 percent of the norm.” July 5, 1932 – arrested in a case against Catholic clergy who had “joined together in creating an anti-Soviet group that conducted anti-Soviet agitation, secretly celebrated Mass and religious rites and maintained an illegal contact with a free person for transmittal abroad of information of an espionage nature about the situation of Catholics in the USSR.” During the investigation he stated at his interrogation: “I consider Catholicism more important than the Soviet regime. I am a staunch defender of Catholicism and nothing in the world will bring me to the other side. I am absolutely in no way in agreement with measures undertaken by the Soviet regime against Catholicism.” July 9 he was sentenced to complete isolation from other priests. August 10, 1933 – he fell seriously ill in the camp. In connection with preparations for an exchange of prisoners with Lithuania, he was transported to Moscow and held in Butyrka Prison. September 26 he was released to Lithuania, where he arrived October 19. From 1933 he lived in Latvia, where he served in the parish in Kraslava, and was there at the time of the Soviet occupation. June 30, 1941 – Fr. Witold was arrested; July 1, with the retreat of the Red Army, he was brutally tortured to death (according to rumors, his skin was torn from his body while he was still alive). Sources: GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 3753; Nowicki, p. 7; Osipova (1996), pp. 189-190; Investigatory Matter V. Pavlovicha [Pashkevich?], Archive of KGB, Republic of Belarus; Investigatory Matter 590614, Central Archive, FSB, Russian Federation; Dzwonkowski, pp. 385-386; Madała, p. 121
Variant Names:
Paszkiewicz, Witold; Pashkevich, Vitol'd Iosifovich
Strugi Krasnye (Saint Petersburg, Russia); Saint Petersburg (Russia); Svetilovichi (Belarus); Minsk (Belarus)
male; clergy and religious; executed