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Until now, veterans of the Zaporozhye Regional Sanitary and Epidemiological Service remember their teachers. It was their generation, who came from the fronts of World War II, who had to restore the destroyed hospitals and clinics, and re-establish the system of sanitary and epidemiological surveillance and medical education. They are all real heroes.

One of them was the beloved Lev Mukvoz, a parasitologist who lived and worked in Melitopol after the war. Helminth specialist, Lev Mukvoz conducted training sessions and seminars for employees of the sanitary-epidemiological service, improving their qualifications. Lev had a lot of talents, and among them the actor was not the last. In addition to medical and scientific work, he found time to teach theatrical art at the Melitopol College of Cultural Education and even led a drama circle.

However, not all of Mukvoz's colleagues knew that the doctor had several serious problems with the Soviet regime, and that his tireless passion for hiking and cultural work was the legacy of a very turbulent youth. The only people in Melitopol, fully aware of the past of Lev Mukvoz, worked in the city department of the Ministry of State Security.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the operational situation in the Zaporozhye region was difficult - not only “spies of the capitalist states” tried to inflict a “sneaky blow from behind”, but also carefully camouflaged “internal enemies” of the socialist paradise. The Zionists, who were arrested throughout the Soviet Union, were also designated as such enemies. Almost the majority of the Zionists “identified” by the Chekists have never heard of Trumpeldor and Arlozorov. But in the case of Mukvoz, the authorities were not mistaken – in the archives of the state security there was enough compromising evidence for him.

Lev was born in Simferopol on October 5, 1903 in the family of a tradesman, a native Crimean. His mother’s family had roots in Melitopol, therefore it was this city that Lev subsequently moved to.
From childhood, Leva was fond of absolutely everything, from literature to the exact sciences. However, as a result, he chose the most interesting industry for himself, having entered the medical faculty of the Crimean University named after M.V. Frunze.
Leva Mukvoz spent his free time in nature. As a teenager, he joined a scout organization, all weekend long “helping the weak” – that was the motto of the scouts - and training in the Crimean mountains.
Despite the fact that the Mukvoz family was not religious, Leva understood that every nation should have a sense of its own dignity. Observing the tragedy of thousands of Jewish refugees who came to Crimea from the western provinces of Russia during the First World War, the young man came to the conclusion that the suffering of Russian Jews should end with their return to Palestine.

He didn't have to look for like-minded people for a long time. In 1917-1920, the Zionist work in Crimea was practically not interrupted. Clubs, schools and kindergartens of the “Tarbut” system, Jewish libraries and evening Hebrew courses worked in the Crimean cities. At this time, Tavria became the center of the HeHalutz movement, and through the peninsula many Jews left Russia, heading to Eretz Israel.

Lev Mukvoz was captured by the scout romance, especially the common bonfires and hiking in the Crimea, which lasted for weeks. The Soviet authorities tolerated Jewish scouts and did not trust them, so they always assigned their escort to the tourists. “Tzofim” walked along mountain roads for many kilometers, climbed Chatyr-Dag – and all this accompanied the songs of the “Land of Israel” (“Shirey Eretz-Israel”).

When in 1923 the authorities ran out of patience and they banned absolutely all scout legions, including Jewish ones, twenty-year-old Mukvoz decided to act. Medical student Mukvoz, then already a physical education instructor and scout-master, together with his comrades decided on the fragments of the scout movement to assemble a local cell of “Hashomer Hatzair” – a left-Zionist youth organization that arose on the territory of the Soviet Union in 1922 after an underground Congress in Moscow.

In 1923, during the international agricultural exhibition in Moscow, in which the Histadrut trade union took part, David Ben-Gurion visited the USSR. Ben-Gurion's meetings with Zionist youth groups gave impetus to development in the Soviet country, Hashomer Hatzair, especially in Crimea, Belarus and Ukraine. The goal of the “Shomers” was to prepare Jewish youth for resettlement in Eretz Israel and for kibbutz life. Zionism and socialism were declared as the basic values of the movement.

Very quickly, Lev Mukvoz won indisputable authority. Trainings, campaigns, debates and posting of political proclamations in Crimean cities, Zionist agitation and underground ulpans – all this was organized, among other things, thanks to the energy of Mukvoz. Then there was practically no time left for medicine, which the young man was seriously engaged in – during these years Lev completely concentrated on Zionist work.

The work was carried on without any special losses until the spring-summer of 1925. Then in Crimea, about a dozen leaders of the movement were arrested. After the arrests in May, Lev Mukvoz tried to lay low, but on July 14, 1925, he was detained by OGPU officers in Simferopol.

One of the leaders of the Crimean “Hashomer Hatzair” on September 4, 1925 was convicted under Article 61 of the RSFSR Criminal Code “Participation in an organization or assistance to an organization acting to help the international bourgeoisie”. The punishment is deportation from Crimea to Kazakhstan for a period of 3 years.

In his first exile, Lev Mukvoz ended up in Orenburg. There he focused on medicine and professional research: in Orenburg he worked at the Mechnikov Bacteriological Institute. But he did not give up politics and, according to the GPU, continued to carry out anti-Soviet work: he maintained organizational ties with the authorized bureau of exiled Jews of the Aktobe colony, as well as with the Hashomer Hatzair cells in Moscow, Crimea and Kiev.

While in exile, Mukvoz organized a group of Jewish youth under the banner of the Shomer organization. His apartment became a place of constant gatherings of activists.

There was no limit to the surprise of the Orenburg Chekists – the exiled Mukvoz gathered underground again under their noses. In June 1926, “for the creation in the city of Orenburg of an illegal anti-Soviet organization of Zionists” by a Special Meeting (OSO) at the OGPU Collegium Lev Mukvoz was repeatedly sentenced to exile, but this time to the Siberian Territory of the RSFSR. However, Mukvoz did not arrive in the Tomsk district, and together with three comrades in the Zionist movement fled from Orenburg in an unknown direction.

In its “Information Bulletin”, “Hashomer Hatzair” reported: “By order of the General Staff, four exiled Shomers fled from Orenburg. Everyone is already at work. One exiled from Kyrgyzstan followed their example. Again, a major political victory in an unequal struggle with the enemy...”

Having escaped from exile, the Crimean Mukvoz went into an illegal position and became the chief of the regional headquarters “Hashomer Hatzair” in Kiev, using the underground nickname “Volya” in contacts with his comrades-in-arms.

The head of the Kiev regional headquarters was able to get on the trail only by the spring of next year. On March 8, 1927, Lev Mukvoz was arrested in the capital of the Ukrainian SSR. He presented documents to the OGPU employees in the name of Yunk Isser Falkovich, but the investigation was able to reveal his real identity.

On April 29, 1927, the Shomeroite was again sentenced to three years and, by the decree of the OGPU, was sent to a special prison for political prisoners – Suzdal Political Isolator. While in prison, Mukvoz continued his anti-Soviet activities: together with other Zionist prisoners, he organized a hunger strike in protest. Their statement read: “On May 1, in protest against the incessant policy of terror against the socialist community, we are declaring a one-day hunger strike”.

Mukvoz, who had not taken the path of correction, was transferred from the Suzdal political isolator to the Urals. On May 13, 1930, Lev Mukvoz, who a few months earlier had been “thrown” in three more years of exile for continuing his Zionist activities, was sent from Sverdlovsk in a convoy. After a while, relatives found out that the Chekists had sent the Crimean resident to “freeze” – to Obdorsk (now – Salekhard), located on the Poluisk Upland of the West Siberian Plain at the confluence of the Poluy River into the Ob, the only city in the world right on the Arctic Circle.

Unlike the exiles, the Zionists who were in a political prison could not count on replacing imprisonment with deportation to Palestine.

While in exile in the Far North, as a doctor-epidemiologist, Mukvoz was in charge of the clinical laboratory of the Pasteur station in Obdorsk. There he became seriously interested in helminthological science and practice, studying gastric secretion in patients with opisthorchiasis caused by parasitic flatworms.

It was impossible to escape from Obdorsk – around the snowy steppe and piercing cold. In the summer of 1933, he ironically told in letters to his repatriate friends about the local conditions: “I smiled when I read about the intense heat that comes in April. It's July now, and it won't be superfluous to put on a fur coat”.

Dreams of leaving for Palestine were completely vague, but Lev could not help but be interested in the nation-building taking place there. In his letters to Palestine, he wrote that the exiles received information about the very rapid development of Eretz Yisrael and the availability of jobs in Yishuv.

In June 1933, Lev Mukvoz, free from exile, came to his permanent place of residence in Melitopol. There he immediately got a job as a doctor and teacher of Latin at the Melitopol obstetric-paramedic school. When in 1934 in Melitopol at the polyclinic a helminthological point was created, one of the first in Ukraine, Lev was offered to head it.

With the beginning of the Great Terror, the NKVD got interested in the Melitopol doctor once again. In 1938, Lev was arrested again for anti-Soviet activities, but for lack of evidence of the corpus delicti in 1939 he was released from custody.

On the eve of the Great Patriotic War, Lev headed the antihelminthic department of the 1st Melitopol polyclinic. In the early days of Hitler's offensive, he was drafted as a medical worker into the active army. Almost the entire war he served as a captain of the medical service as the head of the clinical diagnostic laboratory of the evacuation hospital No. 1807 in Khasavyurt.

In December 1945, he returned to Melitopol and in the first post-war years actively restored helminthological work in the city and region. Occupying the post of head of the helminthological department of the Zaporozhye regional malaria station since 1949, as well as heading the laboratory of the city polyclinic in Melitopol, Lev paid special attention to pedagogical activities and social and cultural work.

It would seem that after so many years of persecution, the authorities should have calmed down. The Zionist youth was far in the past, and it was not possible to leave the Union. But the Zaporozhye regional UMGB needed results – Moscow demanded to reveal another Zionist conspiracy.

After the memorandum of the 2nd department of the UMGB of the Zaporozhye region, dated July 7, 1950, the Melitopol doctor began to be closely monitored. A whole special operation was being prepared against Lev: the security officers, under the guise of a business trip, were going to call Mukvoz to Kiev. In the capital, of course, he had to stay with the relatives of the recruited “friend”. The Chekists hoped that in this way they would reveal the Zionist underground in Kiev, because the repeatedly convicted Lev, according to their ideas, had to make contact with his like-minded people.

It is not known for certain how Lev's trip to Kiev ended, but back in mid-March 1953, his case was under development.

After Stalin's death, Mukvoz was left alone. The only consequence of his case is that his relative and colleague Samuel Schwartz was relatively mildly repressed (demoted).

With such a history for a talented doctor, the way up, to Kiev or Moscow, was firmly closed. Lev remained in Melitopol and spent the rest of his life doing research in his field of medicine. He made great strides in the fight against helminthiases in the Zaporozhye region. The works of Lev Mukvoz became widely known and were used in the practice of combating helminthiasis throughout the territory of the Soviet Union.

He organized and permanently directed the Zaporozhye branch of the Ukrainian Scientific Society of Parasitologists, was a regular author and member of the editorial board of the all-Union journal “Medical Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases”. For his contribution to the development of public health, Lev was repeatedly awarded with diplomas and medals, and in 1967 he received the badge for “Excellence in Public Health”.

On April 17, 1975, Lev Mukvoz, who lived a rich life worthy of an adventure novel, passed away. He was a talented and respected person who, many decades later, was recalled in his memoirs by his comrades-in-arms and colleagues and students who had left for Palestine, who remained in the Soviet Union. The Soviet regime played with him like a cat and a mouse, but he managed to play this game according to his own rules. It seems to us that he won. What are your thoughts?

Lev Mukvoz

1903 – 1975

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