NEW YORK (Apr. 26)
“There are many ways to kill people. The KGB uses all of them. Everybody should know that Col. Yefim Davidovich was killed by the KGB,” Prof. Alexander Luntz, the noted Soviet Jewish mathematician, who recently emigrated to Israel, said today at a memorial service on behalf of the Soviet Jewish war hero who died Saturday from a heart attack at his home in Minsk. Davidovich, a close friend of Luntz, was one of the most prominent Jews denied permission to emigrate to Israel despite repeated pleas with the Soviet authorities.
The memorial service, held in front of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, was sponsored by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and attended by more than 30 people, among them Kings County District Attorney Eugene Gold, who is also the GNYCSJ chairman, Rabbi Joel Balsam of the Jewish Welfare Board, and Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Park East Synagogue who recited the Kaddish.
Standing in front of an empty wooden coffin, covered with the flag of Israel and a photo of Davidovich, Gold accused the Soviets of “murder by degrees” in the death of Davidovich and demanded that his body be sent to Israel for a dignified burial.
Gold charged that after applying for an exit visa several years ago, Davidovich became a target of “unspeakable harassment, such was the Soviets’ determination to prevent him from emigrating. The harassment took the form of long periods of interrogation by the KGB and physical abuse, even though Davidovich had long been in ill health.”
Signs carried by those attending the memorial service read: “Davidovich–victim of KGB terror,” “Let Davidovich be buried in Israel” and “Their fight is our fight, free, the prisoners of conscience.” A large contingent of police was present at the memorial site, but no incidents occurred. The service was concluded by placing wreaths outside the Park Avenue Synagogue, opposite the Soviet Mission.
ASK FOR BURIAL IN ISRAEL
In other reactions to the death of Davidovich the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry sent a cable to the Soviet ovir chief Vladimir Obidin asking that the Jewish activist be buried in Israel. “Let his wish to reunite with the Jewish people so cruelly denied in life at least be granted in death.” the SSSJ wrote.
The SSSJ said that the continued harassment of Davidovich by Soviet authorities led to his death “Yefim Davidovich, a martyr to Soviet anti-Jewish tyranny will not be forgotten.” the SSSJ declared. “His memory will inspire countless Jews to seek freedom for which he so unceasingly fought.”
Stanley H. Lowell, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, also urged Soviet authorities to allow Davidovich to be buried in Israel. He said his death “was a direct result of continual bureaucratic harassment and persecution by the Soviet authorities. Because of his desire to emigrate to Israel, and his constant protests against Soviet anti-Semitism, Davidovich was forced to recuperate in his own home after suffering his fifth heart attack March 9th.”