Inventory of the Boris Ravdin collection

Finding aid prepared by Hoover Institution Library and Archives Staff
Hoover Institution Library and Archives
434 Galvez Mall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6003

Title: Boris Ravdin collection
Date (inclusive): 1941-1994
Collection Number: 2013C35
Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
Language of Material: Russian
Physical Description: 2 manuscript boxes (0.8 Linear Feet)
Abstract: Reports, memoranda, and police files, relating to secret police activities and political dissidents in Latvia. Photocopy.
source: Ravdin, Boris
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives.


The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

Acquisition Information

Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2013.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Boris Ravdin collection, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives

Location of Original Materials

Archives of the State Security Committee (KGB) of the Latvian S.S.R.

Biographical / Historical

This collection consists of selected documents (photocopies) from five criminal files held in the Archives of the State Security Committee (KGB) of the Latvian S.S.R. They were made by Boris Ravdin for research purposes.
The extensive Boris Maftser criminal file relates to the "Riga trial" that was heard in Riga in connection with an attempted aircraft hijacking in Leningrad. A group of sixteen Soviet citizens tried to steal a civilian aircraft on 15 June 1970 to escape to the West because they were denied permission to emigrate legally. Even though the attempt was unsuccessful, this was a notable event in the course of the Cold War because it drew international attention to human rights violations in the USSR and resulted in temporary loosening of emigration restrictions. It was important for authorities to present this attempted hijacking not as an action of desperate people deprived of the possibility to legally leave for Israel, but as the result of an intricate Zionist conspiracy.
In the course of the KGB investigation the four defendants in the case, Boris Maftser, Aron Shpil'berg, Ruta Aleksandrovich, and Mikhail Shepshelovich, were arrested and their homes were searched. The trial, led by the senior investigator for the most important matters of the Latvian KGB, lasted seven months. The defendants were charged with "agitation and propaganda aiming at damaging Soviet power." In 1977 this file was used as research material for a dissertation at the school for military counterintelligence officers of the KGB of the USSR Council of Ministers
The Samuil Iofe criminal file relates to Iofe's activities, with the Bricha center in Riga, to organize illegal Jewish emigration through Poland to Palestine. Bricha (escape or flight) was the underground organized effort that helped Jewish Holocaust survivors escape from post-World War II Europe to Palestine. Other defendants in the case charged with Zionist anti-Soviet activities were Iakov Iankelevich, Il'ia Krol', Il'ia Zaĭdin, and Greĭnom Gurevich.
Photographer Iosif Shneider was arrested by the KGB of the Latvian S.S.R for his anti-Soviet activities and search for illegal opportunities to emigrate to Israel. He was accused of keeping nationalistic literature, listening to the Voice of Israel radio, especially during the 1956 "aggression of Israel, England, and France against Egypt, transcribing and keeping at home slanderous inventions regarding Soviet foreign policy aired by the station, and corresponding with a relative living in Israel."
Markus (Mordekhai) Nurok was a religious and political figure in Latvia and one of the founders of the World Jewish Congress. He was arrested in 1941 and released in 1942 thanks to the efforts of international Jewish organizations. In 1945 he immigrated to Palestine and later became a member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset).
The Boris Shperling criminal file stands apart from the other four files because it does not relate to Zionism. Boris Shperling, a student in the Department of Mathematics of the Latvian State University "openly pronounced anti-Soviet statements regarding ways of building socialism in the USSR and slanderous statements regarding the policy of the Communist Party and Soviet government at the seminar on the XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union." For arguing at the seminar, Boris Shperling was sentenced to a two-year prison term.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of selected documents (photocopies) from five criminal files. The files include arrest warrants, search warrants, lists of confiscated items, questionnaires, interrogation records, court proceedings, petitions, and some correspondence and memoranda.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Secret service -- Latvia
Dissenters -- Latvia
Latvia -- History -- 1940-1991
Ravdin, Boris

box 1, folder 1-15

Boris Maftser criminal file 1970-1977 1970-1977

Scope and Contents

Includes his interrogation record, court proceedings, and some police documents relating to other defendants in the case.
box 2, folder 1-7

Samuil Iofe criminal file 1945-1947, 1955-1956, 1994 1945-1947, 1955-1956, 1994

Scope and Contents

Relates to Samuel Jofe and Ikov Iankelovich. Includes interrogation records, statements relating to zionist organizations, court rulings and other court materials, petitions, and memoranda.
box 2, folder 9-10

Boris Shperling criminal file 1956-1958 1956-1958

Scope and Contents

Includes interrogation records and other investigation documents, court proceedings, and criminal information materials.
box 2, folder 10

Markus Nurok criminal file 1941-1942, 1954, 1956

Scope and Contents

Includes interrogation records, memoranda, and petitions
box 2, folder 11

Iosif Shneider criminal file 1957