Introduction

For nearly two decades The Jewish Press publicized the cause of Marina Tiemkin of Moscow. She had been kidnapped as a teenager by the KGB at her mother’s instigation in 1973 after she declared her intention to leave for Israel with her father, Dr. Alexander Tiemkin. Faced with the choice of emigration or the gulag, Dr. Tiemkin eventually arrived in Israel and waged an unceasing public campaign for Marina’s freedom.

During that time, little was known about Marina’s fate other than the fact that she was finally, after several years, able to break free of her mother’s grip and associate with young Jews who loved Israel. By 1989, as the USSR began to disintegrate, Marina managed to visit Israel along with her husband, Grigory Davidovsky; their child was kept behind to ensure their return to Russia. A year later, Marina and her family were finally able to immigrate to Israel. 

Learning Objectives

  • Introduction and background on life in the Soviet Union in the 1970s through a girl’s point of view.
  • How to stay true to ideals under social pressure.

Background

In the Soviet Union there were 3 million Jews, but the policy was against religion, any religion.

The Soviet regime banned Jewish life, but on the other hand prevented Jews from entering Israel.

From the point of view of the Soviet leadership – the exodus of the Jews was a symbol of the failure of propaganda that the Soviet Union is a paradise on earth. Therefore, any expression of Judaism, Zionism, sympathy for Israel or the desire to immigrate to Israel was considered treason. Many were arrested without actual crime, and sent to jail for espionage or treason.

The Soviet government treated citizens as state property, and it was forbidden to leave the country without special permission: not for a trip and certainly not to leave the USSR.

Anyone who wanted to leave had to go through the Interior Ministry, and usually get a refusal. In the Soviet Union, unemployment was prohibited by law, anyone who was marked as a “traitor” (= whoever wants to leave is a “traitor”) was also usually fired from his job and thus became a criminal.

 

For nearly two decades The Jewish Press publicized the cause of Marina Tiemkin of Moscow. She had been kidnapped as a teenager by the KGB at her mother’s instigation in 1973 after she declared her intention to leave for Israel with her father, Dr. Alexander Tiemkin. Faced with the choice of emigration or the gulag, Dr. Tiemkin eventually arrived in Israel and waged an unceasing public campaign for Marina’s freedom.

During that time, little was known about Marina’s fate other than the fact that she was finally, after several years, able to break free of her mother’s grip and associate with young Jews who loved Israel. By 1989, as the USSR began to disintegrate, Marina managed to visit Israel along with her husband, Grigory Davidovsky; their child was kept behind to ensure their return to Russia. A year later, Marina and her family were finally able to immigrate to Israel. 

Contributing Organization

Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov

Procedure

Have the students read Marina’s testimony and article. Then discuss:

  1. Why did the KGB try to put pressure on Marina?
  2. How do you think the KGB knew about every step and action of Marina?
  3. Why do you think Marina’s mother cooperated with the KGB and tried to separate Marina from her father?
  4. Why do you think Marina’s father left and immigrated to Israel without Marina? (Answer: He was probably threatened with imprisonment, which in any case would separate him from his daughter, and he probably thought that through Israel he could apply pressure and bring her in as well).
  5. Why did Marina want to be in Israel?
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