Congressional Testimony of REV. RICHARD WURMBRAND

HEARING Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act

and Other Internal Security Laws, of the Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, D.C.


Friday, May 6, 1966

The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:20 a.m., in room 18, Old Senate Office Building, Senator Thomas J. Dodd presiding. Also present: Jay G. Sourwine, chief counsel; Benjamin Mandel, director of research; Frank W. Schroeder, chief investigator; and Robert C. McManus, investigations analyst.

Senator Dodd: I will call this hearing to order. We have as our witness today Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who is a refugee from Rumania. Mr. Sourwine will introduce and read a copy of Dr. Wurmbrand's credentials.

I must say, before you do so, that we are grateful for your appearing here. I am familiar with the nature of your testimony -- I think I am -- to an extent. I feel that you are rendering a real service to the cause of the free world.

Go ahead, Mr. Sourwine.

Mr. Sourwine: Mr. Chairman, this letter of credentials, which I shall read pursuant to your instructions, was given to Dr. Wurmbrand by Dr. Hedenquist, who is the mission director of the Svenska Israels missionen. The reason is explained the text. It reads:

"Pastor Richard Wurmbrand is a refugee from Rumania, a country which he had to leave because of the antireligious persecution. Fleeing from there, he has not the usual credentials, which have been taken from him at his arrest by the secret police of the Communists....

"During the whole war he has been pastor of our mission in Rumania. Since our mission retired from Rumania in 1945, from that year to 1948 he has been a pastor of the Norwegian mission to the Jews....

"He was also a professor of the Old Testament in the Seminary of Bucharest.

"From 1948 to 1956, he was in prison for religious motives. Released in 1956, he was no more authorized by the Communist authorities to fulfill his duties. From 1956 to 1959 he preached and exercised his other pastoral functions illegally.

"Rearrested for this in 1959, he was again in prison until July 1964, when he was released on the basis of a general amnesty.

"Since 1964, he was pastor of the Evangelical Church in Orshova, a Rumanian town.

"Continuing to be the object of persecution and being in great danger, our Scandinavian mission to the Jews succeeded to make him escape from three.

"We recommend him as a most reliable person, a fine Christian who has published several books against atheism and communism and who has got a burning heart for Christ and for all people in need.

This is signed by Dr. Hedenquist, doctor of theology, mission director in Sweden for Svenska Israels missionen.

Reverend Wurmbrand: He is the former secretary of the World Council of Missions.

Senator Dodd: Without objection, this letter will be included in the record. Since it has been read, it will not be reprinted.

Mr. Sourwine, you may proceed. I have some questions which I might as well ask to begin with, rather than wait until later.
Pastor, how many languages do you speak?

Reverend Wurmbrand: ...Something like 14.

Senator Dodd: Obviously, you speak English.

Reverend Wurmbrand: Yes; English, French, German Hungarian, and so on.

Senator Dodd: Did you come directly from Rumania?

Reverend Wurmbrand: No, no; from Rumania I went to Italy; from Italy to Oslo, and then from Europe I came to the States.

Senator Dodd: From where?

Reverend Wurmbrand: From Paris.

Senator Dodd: When was that?

Reverend Wurmbrand: I came to the States 3 weeks ago.

Senator Dodd: Were you required by the secret police to make any commitments before you could leave Rumania?

Reverend Wurmbrand: Before I left Rumania I was called twice to the secret police. The first time they said that they don't know yet if they will allow me to leave the country with my family. They said: "Dollars have been received for you. You will have to leave the country, but perhaps we will let some time to pass, because your remembrances of prison are too fresh and you have too good a pen."

Senator Dodd: What?

Reverend Wurmbrand: A pen. "You can too well write. Perhaps we will keep somebody here of your family as hostage." The second time they called me again and they said: 'Now you will leave the country, but be very cautious when you come out. You may preach Christ as much as you like. We know that you are a preacher, but don't touch us. Don't speak against Communists. If you will speak against communism, for $1,000 we can find a gangster who will liquidate you. We play with you with open cards. You come from prison. You have met in prison men whom we have brought back from the West."

And that is the truth. I have been in prison with a Rumanian Orthodox priest, Vasile Leul, who has been kidnapped from Austria. I have seen his nail torn out and broken, and so they reminded me of that. "You know how our prisons are and that you can come back in prison."

And the third thing which they said: "We have also another possibility with you. We can destroy you morally outside. We will find story with a girl or a money story or something else and people will be stupid enough to believe it. We will destroy you if you touch us."

And under these conditions I was allowed to come out. And very sorrowfully in the West I found people in the West, even religious leaders, who told me the same thing: "Preach Christ as much as you like but don't touch Communists."

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