NEW YORK, Dec 21 (JTA) — The world will soon learn the once- secret details of what happened to the father of the late Lubavitcher rebbe.
Rabbi Levi Schneerson — whose son, Menachem, headed the Lubavitcher movement until his death in 1994 — was the Ukrainian chief rabbi in 1939, when the Soviet Union arrested him for defying the Communist government and spreading the practice of Judaism. He died in the Central Asian republic five years later.
The details of his interrogation and the KGB investigation were kept private in three spiral-bound books. Until now.
On Sunday, Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of the now-independent Muslim country of Kazakhstan, turned the books over to Rabbi Shalom Levine, chief librarian of the Agudas Chassidei Chabad-Lubavitch library in Brooklyn, where they will be translated into Hebrew and English.
The volumes include Schneerson’s arrest warrant and death certificate.
“We have these three volumes of the investigation — the questioning, the protocols, all these things,” Nazarbayev said.
Rabbi Berel Lazar, the chief Lubavitch emissary to the former Soviet Union and the chief rabbi of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, said he believes the documents are “100 percent credible.”
Lazar pointed out that the Jewish community did not know the files existed until 1991, when the government released a partial segment of the KGB files.
The 1991 files contained “an incredible insight on how strong Rabbi Schneerson stood when pressured to divulge Jewish names,” Lazar said. “He didn’t budge.”
Lazar also praised the government of Kazakhstan, which he said is “very favorable to the Jewish public now. They are trying to prove they are working towards democracy by helping minorities.”
Levine will release the files to the public in about two weeks after the translations are complete.