Outside the Moscow Synagogue, 29 March 1972 (25.8)

<<No 25 : 20 May 1972>>

On 29 March 1972 Jews who had gathered outside the Moscow synagogue were dispersed by police and “people’s vigilantes” [druzhinniki]. That evening, the eve of Passover, there were several bus- and carloads of policemen in the vicinity of the synagogue building. For half a day a fence was erected apposite the synagogue, and passages to the street between houses were closed. Persons who gathered were either herded off the road and on to the pavement or forbidden to walk on the pavements.

Towards seven o’clock that evening the police began clearing the pavements and driving everyone on to the steps of the synagogue. Some individuals were dragged out of the crowd and taken away by the police. The assembled persons sang in chorus: “Chevenu shalom aleichem” (we have brought you peace). Then the druzhinniki started elbowing their way up the steps through the crowd and chased everybody down off the steps. Linking arms, they split the crowd into two parts, formed a barrier across the entire street, and forming two chains, in this way began to clear the Jews out of Arkhipov St., one chain moving up the street, the other down. A large group of young Jewish people (about 200) had assembled in the square near the memorial to the heroes of Plevna, they were singing Jewish songs and dancing. At about 9 o’clock in the evening large numbers of policemen and plain-clothes men appeared there and began to disperse the young people. Someone in plain clothes shouted: “Damned Yids, at last we’ve shown you what’s what!” Someone was grabbed and dragged into a bus. One girl had her face battered, and as they “dragged another into the bus they shouted: “Take this Jewish girl! ” Then all the persons detained (about 20) were driven  to police station No. 26 where they were kept until midnight. They were told that if they were ever detained again at the synagogue criminal proceedings would be instituted against them.

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The names of some of those who took part in the pogrom are: police Major Sergei Petrovich Sokolov, who declared that his name was already well known in Israel; a KGB employee by the code name of “’Kuzmich”; Yury Nikolayevich Bannikov, an instructor from the department of military-patriotic training of Moscow’s Kalinin district Komsomol committee; and Boris Semyonovich Konstantinov, a captain in the operations and investigation department of Moscow’s Kalinin district OVD [Department for Internal Affairs].