The “Crime” of Yefim Davidovich

On December 1 1972, the KGB searched the house of Colonel Yefim Davidovich in Minsk. Notes on the Jewish question in the Soviet Union, works of anti-fascist writers, cuttings from the Soviet press and his personal diaries were taken and he was placed under arrest.

Although he is an invalid due to a bad heart condition, the KGB imprisoned him for twenty four hours, during which he became seriously ill. One week later, KGB Investigator Nikiforov informed him that he had been charged with “activity directed at the undermining of the Soviet regime by spreading slander and fabrications vilifying the Soviet social and governmental system.”

Davidovich, a Red Army hero, had for a long time been active in the struggle against Soviet anti-Semitism. In a letter to Brezhnev soon after the opening of the investigation, Davidovich wrote:

The deviations and distortions practiced by Stalin during the post-war period are widely existent in all spheres of life even today. It is necessary to mention that every racism including anti-Semitism is contrary to the tradition of the Russian working class and intelligentsia and against those lofty ideals of internationalism and intolerance towards Jew-haters which were enshrined in Lenin’s testament.

Davidovich was also charged with being in possession of “illegal firearms”, given to him by his old friend, Gedalya Kipnis, a retired Red Army captain, before the latter’s departure to Israel. However on November 29, Kipnis and his wife were taken off their Vienna-bound train at the Soviet border and forcibly brought back to Minsk. Kipnis who was in a Soviet labour camp for many years, was imprisoned.

As Davidovich commented sarcastically further on in his letter to Brezhnev:

Hundreds of plain-clothes men….have surrounded my house and follow me step by step whenever I am able to go for a walk, and also follow members of my family, my friends and acquaintances. In the sick minds of the organisers of this “operation”, there is evidently the impression that I had been preparing big terrorist acts, the murder of all the sportsmen of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, the setting on fire of all the old age homes in the city, the placing of hydrogen bombs in the Komarovsk market, physical against the chairman of the Municipal Council and the presenting of his post to Ben-Gurion. 

With help of the TT pistol that was found in my possession, a 1941 model with eight rusty bullets, I am preparing the widening of the borders of Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates, the annexation of Byelorussia to Israel and the carrying of the tasks given to me by the Elders of Zion, detailed to the last letter, as is stated in the Protocols – the establishment of Jewish domination over the world…

All this is not so funny as it is sad, for the anti-Jewish hysteria under the slogan of anti-Zionism is continuing.

Homes of Minsk Jews have been searched by the KGB and many have been called in for questioning, in an attempt to show that “a secret Zionist organisation” existed in Minsk, despite the fact that all Jewish protests were conducted openly within the legal framework of Soviet law.

A number of Jews who had recently received visas to leave for Israel have now had them held over and are being pressured under threat of imprisonment to give evidence of this “underground organisation”.

The Davidovich case is now one of many in a KGB strategy to pick off Jews in remote areas on the most absurd charges (ie spying for England). The latest with-hunt under the supervision of the KGB must even have the security forces of South Africa and Greece worried by its ingenmuity in convicting innocent people.

Tribune 23 February 1973


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