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It Wasn’t Lyubyanka

In response to:

A Strangely Funny Russian Genius from the May 7, 2015 issue

To the Editors:

An essay by Ian Frazier on Daniil Kharms [NYR, May 7] states that Kharms and his second wife, Marina Durnovo, were brought by NKVD agents to “the ‘Big House’—the Lyubyanka Prison.” This is a mistake. Kharms and Durnovo lived in Leningrad, and they were arrested there at the end of August 1941. The NKVD building in Leningrad is commonly known as the “Big House.” Its is located at Liteynyi Prospect.

The Lyubyanka building and the so-called Lyubyanka inner prison (closed in the 1960s) is located in Moscow on Big Lyubyanka Street—currently the FSB headquarters. Obviously, the author of the essay has confused the two “scary” KGB buildings—one in Leningrad, the other in Moscow—and combined them into a “Big House” (Leningrad’s) with the Lyubyanka prison (in Moscow).

Kharms was jailed, as the author has mentioned correctly, at Leningrad’s Kresty prison (Crosses), where he died, according to some sources, in the psychiatric ward, in February of 1942.

Vladimir Strizhevsky
Woodhaven, New York