Finding aid to the Boris Ravdin collection
Finding aid prepared by Hoover Institution Archives Staff
Hoover Institution Archives2013
434 Galvez Mall
Stanford, CA, 94305-6010
Title: Boris Ravdin collection
Date (inclusive): 1941-1994
Collection Number: 2013C35
Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
Language of Material: Russian
Physical Description: 2 manuscript boxes (0.8 linear feet)
Abstract: Reports, memoranda, and police files, relating to secret police activities and political dissidents in Latvia. Photocopy.
The collection is open for research. The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.
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Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2013.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.
[Identification of item], Boris Ravdin collection, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives
This collection consists of five criminal files including similar sets of documents with some variations. The files include arrest warrants, search warrants, lists of confiscated items, questionnaires, interrogation records, court proceedings, petitions, and some correspondence and memoranda. Photocopy.
This collection consists of selected documents (copies) from five criminal files held in the Archives of the State Security Committee (KGB) of the Latvian S.S.R. They were made by Boris Ravdin for research purposes.
The extensive Boris Maftser criminal file relates to the "Riga trial" that was heard in Riga in connection with an attempted aircraft hijacking in Leningrad. A group of sixteen Soviet citizens tried to steal a civilian aircraft on 15 June 1970 to escape to the West because they were denied permission to emigrate legally. Even though the attempt was unsuccessful, this was a notable event in the course of the Cold War because it drew international attention to human rights violations in the USSR and resulted in temporary loosening of emigration restrictions. It was important for authorities to present this attempted hijacking not as an action of desperate people deprived of the possibility to legally leave for Israel, but as the result of an intricate Zionist conspiracy.
In the course of the KGB investigation the four defendants in the case, Boris Maftser, Aron Shpil'berg, Ruta Aleksandrovich, and Mikhail Shepshelovich, were arrested and their homes searched. The trial, led by the senior investigator for the most important matters of the Latvian KGB, lasted seven months. The defendants were charged with "agitation and propaganda aiming at damaging Soviet power." In 1977 this file was used as research material for a dissertation at the school for military counterintelligence officers of the KGB of the USSR Council of Ministers
The Samuil Iofe criminal file relates to Iofe's activities, with the Bricha center in Riga, to organize illegal Jewish emigration through Poland to Palestine. Bricha (escape or flight) was the underground organized effort that helped Jewish Holocaust survivors escape from post-World War II Europe to Palestine. Other defendants in the case charged with Zionist anti-Soviet activities were Iakov Iankelevich, Il'ia Krol', Il'ia Zaĭdin, and Greĭnom Gurevich.
Photographer Iosif Shneider was arrested by the KGB of the Latvian S.S.R for his anti-Soviet activities and search for illegal opportunities to emigrate to Israel. He was accused of keeping nationalistic literature, listening to the Voice of Israel radio, especially during the 1956 "aggression of Israel, England, and France against Egypt, transcribing and keeping at home slanderous inventions regarding Soviet foreign policy aired by the station, and corresponding with a relative living in Israel."
Markus (Mordekhai) Nurok was a religious and political figure in Latvia and one of the founders of the World Jewish Congress. He was arrested in 1941 and released in 1942 thanks to the efforts of international Jewish organizations. In 1945 he immigrated to Palestine and later became a member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset).
The Boris Shperling criminal file stands apart from the other four files because it does not relate to Zionism. Boris Shperling, a student in the Department of Mathematics of the Latvian State University "openly pronounced anti-Soviet statements regarding ways of building socialism in the USSR and slanderous statements regarding the policy of the Communist Party and Soviet government at the seminar on the XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union." For arguing at the seminar, Boris Shperling was sentenced to a two-year prison term.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Ravdin, Boris, collector.
Iosif Shneider criminal file, 1957