April 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Execution of Alexander Karpov

Part 12

(Continued from last week)

I didn’t receive a confirmation from the embassy that they had received the additional documents and that they had mailed out everything to Belarus. After a further reminder they told me that yes, they mailed the letter to Belarus despite the fact that I had not complied with all their requirements. The Belarusians seemed bent on finding an explanation for why I was not going to receive a reply to my letter before they even mailed it. Then they explained that I had not notarized the English version of the letter and all the documents. They didn’t buy my reply that documents issued by government agencies years ago cannot be notarized since it is against the law. Their reply that I should just have copies notarized only required me to restate to them that the law covers copies or originals. Since they did mail it out despite what they claimed was still wrong, it could not, in my opinion, have been such a serious infraction.

Back in July of that year I had sent letters to two government addresses in Baranovic. I never thought I would receive a reply since the covering letter was written in English, although the attachments were all translated into Russian and notarized. I later received a letter in Russian dated September 10(?). Although I do not know Russian, just glancing over the letter I was quite sure that it did not contain any useful information. Therefore, instead of requesting a formal translation, Dorothy asked a Russian-speaking friend to just give us the general content. The letter, according to the letterhead, seemed to come from a “City Hall- like office,” not one of the two offices I had written to. Presumably my letter had been passed on to them for reply. The letter stated that there was no record of a marriage certificate for the years 1944 through 1947 and that in another record there also was nothing for the years 1944 through 1950.

If indeed Dorothy’s mother got married in Baranovic, which is unknown to us, it could very well be that they had a chuppah but never legally registered the marriage, out of fear, and fear was everywhere then.

Since I had sent the documents to the Belarus Embassy in Washington on September 6, and it is now November 6, I thought it is time to see whether I could find out what the status was. I wrote to the embassy, and lo and behold, a few days later I had a reply. Here is the whole thing:

“Hello, the issue takes time, so please wait for some time. The response will be ‘send’ to you.”

In other words, “Don’t bother us.”

Surprisingly, I received a letter from the Russian Ministry of Defense sent to me through the Russian Consulate General in New York, both in Russian. Although I know no Russian, looking at the brevity of the letters, I could tell that they contained nothing of value. Dorothy’s Russian-speaking friend gave us a brief summary of each letter. The covering letter from the consulate only said “Attached please find etc.” The letter from the Ministry of Federal Defense in Moscow was dated September 6, 2019, and said they could not help us unless we supply where Alexander served in the Army, when, which medals, name of Army unit etc., all information that we do not possess.

I guess I must have written to them in early 2019, but it makes no difference since the reply was not helpful to us.

That’s where we stood. The wait began to see whether a reply would ever be received from our submission of the letter with documents via the Belarussian Embassy in Washington, and what the KGB had to say.

For several weeks I kept on sending reminders to the embassy, and although they always replied, it was always “Keep waiting.”

In the meantime, I had an exchange of emails with an organization with the name of “JewishGen Education Administration.” Their first question was “What have you tried?,” which was easy to answer with “Everything.” Their final reply was “I don’t think this is something I can ‘help’ with. As you know Belarus is still a communist country and no researcher is going to want to go public with this kind of search I would think.” Am I treading on dangerous grounds? Don’t know.

At that point the only line still open was the Belarus Embassy. At least I had a person there with whom I was corresponding, a Mr. Aleksei Novik. On January 17 he told me (I guess to get rid of me) that when he receives his diplomatic mail at the end of January, he “will come back to me with the results.” He forgot to add “if any.”

After several reminders AN replied that “Unfortunately no reply on your request was received.” I was not going let that be the end all. I reminded him instead that I had previously asked him to communicate with Minsk to find out the status. He had never responded to that. Finally, on February 5, AN emailed that since no reply had been received at the end of January, he would try to check with his colleagues in Minsk whether there was any progress. On February 23 I expressed my disappointment that after several reminders, he had not felt it necessary to let me know what reply, if any, had been received from his colleagues in Minsk.

(To be continued next week)


Norbert Strauss is a Teaneck resident and Englewood Hospital volunteer.

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