Soviet Jewry Demonstration in Helsinki Achieved Its Goal
Menu JTA Search

Soviet Jewry Demonstration in Helsinki Achieved Its Goal

Download PDF for this date

The demonstration last Wednesday in Helsinki by the International Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry achieved its goal of focusing unprecedented attention on the plight of Soviet Jewry, one of the demonstrators said here Friday.

Mrs. Doreen Gainsford, one of the driving forces in the campaign for Soviet Jewry in Britain, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Russians will now have to improve the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union and that the one matter that was certain was that Soviet Jews would learn of the Helsinki protest and that it would greatly encourage them in their struggle.

Nine women, including Mrs. Gainsford, were arrested near the U.S. Embassy by Finnish police but they were treated well and released without charges, she said. The others were Genya Intrator of Canada, Gitta Karp of Denmark, Mirae Grabe of France, Estelle Stern-Eilers of West Germany, Dr. Hazel Boland of Ireland, Ruth Berlinger and Charlotte Ettlinger of Sweden and Anne Robinson of the United States. Mrs. Gainsford said each was prominent in Jewish and Soviet Jewry campaigns in their countries.


The women greeted Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid Brezhnev with banners saying, “USSR Honor the Agreement — Give Human Rights to Soviet Jews.” Mrs. Gainsford said she used her “loud voice” to shout in Brezhnev’s direction, “you are signing and at the same time persecuting Soviet Jews.” At that point, Finnish police arrived and arrested the women before the world’s mass media representatives.

She said the group learned that Brezhnev would be traveling in a Cadillac-style limousine and thus they were able to pick out that car among the 14 which conveyed the Soviet leader to the U.S. Embassy. Another demonstration, near the mooring of the Soviet ship, the “Mikhail Kalinin,” which the Soviets were using as a floating hotel, also ended after Finnish police intervened.

The delegation managed to send a letter explaining their actions to Finnish president Urho Kekkonen, who was chairman of the European Security Conference. In the letter, the women asked Kekkonen to urge the Soviet government to adhere to the terms and spirit of the agreement which the Soviets helped prepared and to show their “honest intentions” by allowing all Soviet Jews who wanted to emigrate to be allowed to do so promptly.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund