Murdered by the Soviets in 1938, Reb Chonye Marozov’s Gravesite Found

After years of digging through the files of the KGB—the communist state security agency formerly known as the NKVD—a mass grave with over a dozen Chabad-Lubavitch followers murdered at the hands of the Soviets in 1928, was located and marked with tombstone last week.

Today, Rabbi Mendel Marosov, 98, propped up by pillows, takes a break from studying a scholarly Jewish book to recall those days when his father and brother were taken away. “For many years we did not know what happened to father. The NKVD told us that they cannot divulge any information about his whereabouts,” Morosov told“We did not know that he was executed until many years later.”

Morosov’s father Rabbi Elchanon Dov (Chonya) served as the aide of the fifth and sixth Chabad Rebbes, respectively, Rabbi Shalom Dovber, the Rebbe Rashab, and Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn. Chonya was an activist for Judaism, working fearlessly under the noses of the Soviets until he was arrested in 1927 together with Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn. He remained in prison for three years.

Upon his release he settled in St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad, and resumed his activities, organizing clandestine adult education classes in Jewish studies at night. The NKVD sent out a warrant for him and thus his life on the run began. To evade them, he  changed his name to Duber Posner and disguised his appearance. But in 1938, at age 61, he was among at least a dozen leaders of the Chabad underground who were arrested, their fate unknown for years.

In 2008, with the family still in the dark, one of Morosov’s great-grandchildren visited the city. He turned for help to Rabbi Ifrah Abramov, an educator in the local Chabad school in the city. Abramov began searching the NKVD archives.

Since then he uncovered thousands of pages of testimony given by the victims during their interrogation. “He came to my home and presented me with the documents,” says the 95-year-old son. “I made one request: if he finds my father’s gravesite, he should erect a tombstone.”

Abramov continued his search. In 2012 he learned that all of those gathered on that spring night in 1938 were summarily murdered. They were buried in the Levasovskoj government cemetery. They now also knew the date they were murdered.

When Abramov came to the cemetery to find out where the group was buried, he was brushed off. He persisted, negotiating an obstacle course of bueraucratic red tape, until, in the spring of 2014, cemetery clerks pulled out old maps and Abramov found the exact location they were buried.

Recently, permission was granted to erect a marker on the site, a development late in coming for the nonagenarian rabbi who has difficulty getting around inside his home.

“I myself can’t travel to the cemetery. But at least now my family can go and pay their respects. There is finally a matzevah, [tombstone] and for this I am grateful.”

The new tombstone and the old map with the exact location of the mass grave.
The new tombstone and the old map with the exact location of the mass grave.
Reb Chonye Morosov
Reb Chonye Morosov


  • Mass grave

    So who are the others taken and buried there? I’m sure their families don’t know what happened to them if this information was just uncovered.

  • R' Chonye's great-granddaughter

    The other Chassidim now known to be buried together with R’ Chonye and his son Shmuel:

    1. R’ Pinye Althois
    2. R’ Shmuel Nemotin
    3. R; Yitzchok Raskin
    4. R’ Meir Friedman
    5. R’ Yehshayahu Gold
    6. R’ Dovber Koznitzov
    7. R’ Feivish Esterin
    8. R’ Shaul Katzenelenbogen
    9. R’ Yaakov Golobchik
    10. R’ Elchonon Epstein

    • Shlomie

      as far I know Pinye althois made it to America. I think the story with collecting Shadchonus… (Farbrengen 14 Kislev 5714)
      Correct me if I’m wrong

  • Mistake in Article

    It was Reb Chonye’s granddaughter who travelled to Russia with her husband in 2012. It was pure Hasgocha Protis how they met Yifrach Abramov on Tisha Ba’Av. The stone which is on the ground has the names of many of the other Chasdidim who were murdered that night HY”D

  • Great-Grandchild

    This is outside Leningrad. There were mass arrests of the chassidim there in march 1938 and they were shot shortly after they were arrested. (April 1938 according to the documents)
    Contrary to the article, it was known that they had been killed- first there was letters sent during communist times that lead them to believe they had died after a number of years. In the 1990s, after the collapse of the communist regime, it was discovered that they were actually executed 3 weeks or so after their arrest.
    R’ Chonye Morosow was arrested living at that time with his family, as a fugitive, under a false name, at the home of R’ Yitzchok Raskin hyd.
    (This was one more ‘crime’ for R’ Yitzchok- hosting and caring for R’ Chonye, his wife and sons. This was in addition to his being a mohel and shochet)