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November 08, 1985 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, November 8, 19'85

Cynthia Franklin, her father
Martin Weston and a table
full of hope.

ROOTS BEHIND THE
IRON CURTAIN

A Southfield family is struggling to
contact a Soviet refusenik cousin.

BY HOWARD LOVY
Staff Writer

Leonid Volvovsky and his
wife, Ludrnilla.

Families of Holocaust survivors
benefit from the living testimony of
life in the old country. Even in the
United States, they can still hear
stories about what the family once
was.
A Jewish family in Southfield is
still trying to discover their roots.
Their only links to the past', how-
ever, are experiencing oppression of
their own, 40 years later and half-
a-world away, in the Soviet Union.
Cynthia Franklin and her
father, Martin Weston, learned in
July, through Detroit Soviet Jewry
activist Rae Sharfman, of the exis-
tance of Weston's aunt's grandson in
the Soviet Union. Now imprisoned in
Gorky for teaching Hebrew, Leonid
Volvovsky, his wife and 16-year-old
daughter, have been trying to emi-
grate to Israel since 1974. They have
been repeatedly denied visas on the
grounds that they are a threat to
"state secrecy."
Volvovsky is a scientist, with a
doctorate in cybernetics. He was
elected to the New York Academy of
Science, but was fired in 1974 for
applying to emigrate and cannot
work in his field. He and his family
were banished to Gorky in February
1980.
In June 1983, nine KGB men
came to Volvovsky's apartment and
confiscated all Jewish materials
(tapes and books), his address book,

and even love letters. At the same
time, they held his 75-year-old aunt
for 24 hours while they searched her
apartment for Jewish materials.
Last June, the KGB came to his
apartment again. During the search,
Volvovsky only spoke Hebrew to his
wife, Ludmilla. This angered the
KGB agents and they wouldn't let
him speak. They took . him to prison
and later charged him with spread-
ing "anti-Soviet propaganda," based
on what was found in his apartment,
a "book in a red cover in a non-
Russian language." He could receive
a three-year sentence in a Soviet
prison or labor camp.
In July, Ludmilla appealed to
the Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry
in a letter, "To the Jews of the
World."
"I know that my husband is in-
nocent and those who took him know
that too," she wrote. "Until now, I
have failed to find effective support
inside the country. Therefore, I ap-
peal to the Jews to help our family
to save Leonid Volvovsky from un-
just repraisals."
Franklin and Weston are trying
to give the Volvovskys much-needed
support in the United States.
They first became active in sup-
porting Soviet Jewry when Franklin
heard about the bar-bat mitzvah
"twinning" program with Soviet re-
fuseniks. In 1983, Franklin'u daugh-

ter was twinned with Clara Kagan
of Leningrad for her bat mitzvah.
The Franklins have been able to
correspond regularly with the Ka-
gans since then because, she said,
they are not afraid to write letters
back and forth like so many re-
fuseniks are. Franklin is now start-
ing to correspond with another re-
fusenik family in conjunction with
her son's bar mitzvah in January.
She said that while her letters
do not contain political messages,
she does let the Soviet Jews know
that "there are people in the United
States who support them and that
there's no reason why they shouldn't
be let out."
Weston said that correspondence
with the Volvovskys is a more dif-
ficult matter.
"From what we understand, if
the people were living in Moscow or
Leningrad, or one of the so-called
`open cities,' you can get corre-
spondence back from them," he said.
"But when they're put into a closed
city like Gorky, then you have a
problem."
No matter who may actually
read the letters, Franklin believes
they are still serving a useful pur-
pose.
"Even if these letters don't reach
the actual families that they're
intended to go to, somebody in

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29

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