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Alexandrovka

Alexandrovka
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Alexandrovka is a city located in Kirovograd region of central Ukraine, center of Alexandrovka district. Kozelets is located on the Tyasmin River, a tributary of the Dnieper. The city’s estimated population is 8721 (as of 2017).
In XIX – beginning of XX century it was shtetl of Chigirin Yezd of Kiev Gubernia.

Information about the Jews of Alexandrovka was collected and organized by the head of the local museum Vasyl Viktorovich Biloshapka.

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The first written mention of the Jews of Alexandrovka district dates back to the second half of the XVIII century, beginning from 1765. It was found in some Polish documents.

Rabbi Nakhman from Bratslav (1772 – 1810), the future founder of Bratslav (Breslovsky) Hasidism used to live in the village called Stara Osota of Alexandrovka district after his marriage at the age of 13. He lived there with his father-in-law.

Jewish population of Alexandrovka:
1847 – 356 Jews
1864 – 706 Jews
1897 – 3213 (73%)
1939 – 565 (10%)
2017 ~ 10 Jews

1,388 people of Jewish nationality lived in Chihirin district in 1801. Among them there were 16 merchants and 740 middlemen. In 1847, there were 356 Jews in Alexandrovka.
Information on the size of the Jewish population of the shtetl can be found in the book “Legends of the Settlements of Kiev Province” by Lavrentiy Pokhilevich (1864). The majority of Jews lived in Alexandrovka (706 people), Vyshchi Vereshchaky (305), Sosnivka (263), Tsvitna (90), Lyubomyrka (50) and Stavydly (32 people).

Alexandrovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Alexandrovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

In mid XIX century, agricultural Jewish colonies appeared in Alexandrovka region. They are: Tsvitnyanska (1848), Sosnivska (1851), Forpostyanska, Vereschatska. They were located on state land. In 1881, 1,641 Jewish people lived in those colonies.
At the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, the majority of the population of Alexandrovka was Jewish. Out of 4,366 inhabitants of the shtetl 3,213 were Jewish. It was 73.6% of the total population. In shtetl Stavydly 11.1% were Jews, Aleksandrovka district – 3,628 Jews, Tsvitnianska – 1,079, Tryliska – 324.

Old Jewish houses in Alexandrovka, 2017:

In late XIX century, synagogues and prayer houses were opened in Alexandrovka, Stavydly, Tsvitnyanska Jewish colony, and Fedvara (Pidlisnoye) in order to satisfy the spiritual needs of the Jewish population. In 1895, Isaac Revich was the rabbi of Alexandrovka. Avram Isakovich Revich was rabbi after him.

Graduation certificate of Yacob Gorevich, Alexandrovka 1907

Jews of Alexandrovka took an active part in the economic and cultural life of the town in the early XX century. In 1911, the Jewish community of Olexandrivka asked for permission to open a literary society. However, the authority did not pemit it. There were 10 founding members. They were young people aged of 22-32. They all were Jewish. Some were women. Their names are: Tartakovskiy (a cashier of Alexandrovka savings-and-credit society), Galperin ( a lumberman), Subbotovskiy (a lumberman), Gergel (a bread-grower), Shpilberg (a student-teacher), Tseytlin (an extern), Poretska (attending obstetric courses in Kiev), Livshits (an extern), Dokshytsky ( lives with his father, refused the membership).

Statute of Alexandrovka loan society, 1911

Statute of Alexandrovka loan society, 1911

Many Jews studied in a mixed school which was opened in 1914. Especially for the Jewish students, a position of teacher of Tanach (Jewish Bible) was established. D.K. Herman held that position. The local Jewish students Goldberg (a doctor), A. Schnaper ( a writer), A.A. Krasnokutsky ( a caretaker) also worked in that high school.

Goldberg family in Alexandrovka, beginning of XX century

Goldberg family in Alexandrovka, beginning of XX century

Pavolotskiy family, beginning of XX century

Pavolotskiy family, beginning of XX century

Cover of Aharon Kodesh from local synagogue in Alexandrovka museum, 2017

Civil War pogroms

The first Jewish pogroms were committed by Ataman Grigoryev, who had been controlling part of the territory of Alexandrovka district since the spring of 1919. On May 16-17, a pogrom was committed in Yelizavetgrad, and on May 18-20, in Alexandrovka and at Fundukliyivka station. A new pogrom in Alexandrovka occurred in June. The total number of Jews killed during the pogrom at Fundukliyivka station alone was 206 people.

In August-September 1919, our region was occupied by the forces of General A. Denikin, who committed Jewish pogroms.

In autumn White Guards entered Alexandrovka. According to the words of witness Andrey Zakrevsky, the Jewish community of the town went out to meet Denikin. A leader of the community with the white flag in his hands approached the officer and said “Welcome, brothers liberators!”. The officer took out the pistol and replied: “We are not your brothers!” Then he shot at the leader of the Jewish community and covered his body with the white flag. After that Denikin’s people arranged a pogrom and hanged a part of the Jewish population of Alexandrovka on acacias along the central street of Malobirchanskaya (now Shevchenko Street). Some sources claim that the Jewish pogrom in Alexandrovka took place in December 1919. 48 people were killed. The attackers raped Jewish women, from 12-year-old girls to 75-year-old grandmothers, without even pitying those who were sick on typhus.

Between the Wars

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s of the XX century, there was a Jewish elementary school in Alexandrovka. In 1930, 68 pupils studied there, including 37 peasants and four workers. There also was a Jewish collective farm in the town.

Boguslavskiy family from Sosnovskiy Jewish colony, 1930's

Boguslavskiy family from Sosnovskiy Jewish colony, 1930’s

Students of the 6th grade of Alexandrovka school with their teacher. January 1, 1940. Katerina Boguslavska (Gorbanyova) - the second on the left in the second row; Kila Kleiman - in the wreath. The teacher (in the center) was shot by the fascists during the Nazi occupation.

Students of the 6th grade of Alexandrovka school with their teacher. January 1, 1940. Katerina Boguslavska (Gorbanyova) – the second on the left in the second row; Kila Kleiman – in the wreath. The teacher (in the center) was shot by the fascists during the Nazi occupation.

Reference of Alexandrovka village council, issued to David Goldberg in 1930, with stamp and seal in the Ukrainian and Jewish (Yiddish) languages:

Holocaust

Germans entered Alexandrovka on August 5, 1941.

A ghetto for the Jewish population was established in Alexandrovka in late 1941. The Jews were driven into the houses of Shkolny and Krivy lanes and Shevchenko and Gorky streets. This place was covered with barbed wire. The Jews were brought here from all four districts of Alexandrovka gebit. In early winter of 1942, the ghetto in Alexandrovka contained about 1,000 people.

“The living conditions in the ghetto were very difficult: because of the overcrowding people had to occupy the attics of houses, the cellars, and other small places. The frosts of that winter reached almost 40 degrees, so soon people were out of wood to heat their houses. They were burning reins and gates which were old and unsuitable for protection of the buildings from the frost. The Jews were hungry and seriously ill. Not all of them were let out for work in the town, so the majority of the people had to exchange their belongings for food. That is why the ghetto was constantly surrounded by mercenary locals who wanted to get clothes in exchange for food. However, there were a lot of people helping the prisoners unselfishly. They helped their neighbors, friends, and classmates by throwing bags of bread crumbs, flour and potatoes through the barbed wire secretly, risking being shot or wounded by the guard” – recalled Tatiana Bila. Barbed wire was close to the yard of her house on Shevchenko street, 23. From that place people helped the Jews at dusk.

Shnaper family from Alexandrovka: Moysey, Mariya, and little girl Nelia. They were shot by the Nazi.

In 1942, 60 inhabitants of the village of Tsvitny wrote a letter to the authorities of the Jewish ghetto asking them to liberate “faithful Christians” Olena and Anna Golosheyev (real name Goldshtein). The women were freed and avoided death.

In the ravine on the outskirts of Alexandrovka in April 1942, a mass execution of about 300 citizens of Jewish nationality took place. In October 1943, at the same place, fascists destroyed a few more dozen civilians – Ukrainians, Russians, and Gypsies.

View of the foot of the left wing of the beam near Alexandrovka, where the Jewish population was shot in the spring of 1942. Photo of November 22, 1968 from the Archive of the SSU (Security Service of Ukraine).

The second place of mass shootings of the civilian population by fascist occupiers is Zagayko (Zagayka) tract. It was between the present villages of Gayove and Poliove. In February 1942, about 400 Jews were shot there.

“Famous” Holocaust photo which was found in the pocket of killed German soldier in Poland. Owner wrote on back side “Ivangorod, Ukraine 1942”. There are 3 Ivangorod in Ukraine – in Chernigov, Cherkassy and Kirovograd. But near Ivangorod of Kirovograd region were killed last Jews of Alexandrovka ghetto.

From the criminal case No. 14918, which is kept in the Archives of the SSU administration in Kirovograd region. This is a criminal case of German executer A. Y. Litovka, who was sentenced by Kirovohrad regional court in 1969 to the highest degree of punishment – shooting. The view of the ravine in Zagayka tract, where Germans and police officers shot Jews in winter 1942.:

Document which were found in the grave near Ivangorod in 1968:

Several residents of Alexandrovka were awarded the title “Righteous among the Peoples of the World” for saving the lives of Jews during the Nazi occupation (during the Holocaust).
In April 1942, Mariya Kocherga and Olena Perebyinis rescued the Jewish boy Mikhail Nizhevenko from death. They were awarded the title “Righteous Among the Peoples of the World” on March 12, 2000.

Mariya Kocherga and Olena Perebyinis

Mariya Kocherga and Olena Perebyinis

At the end of March 1942, Matviy and Olena Kuzmenko from Alexandrovka saved the Jewish girl Liza Spivakovskaya from death. They were awarded the title “Righteous Among the Peoples of the World” on February 10, 2003.

Lisa Spivakovskaya with children in 1970's

Lisa Spivakovskaya with children in 1970’s

With the beginning of the German-Soviet war of 1941-1945, the male Jewish population of Alexandrovka defended their native land in the ranks of the Red Army. A lot of them died during the fight against the invaders.

After the WWII, bodies of Holocaut victims were reburied to Jewish part of common Alexandrovka cemetery.

Mass grave of Holocaust victims in local cemetery

After WWII

After the war, several Jewish families returned to Alexandrovka. Those were Mezhyritsky, Shnaper, Kirpichenko, Prinsman. Bella Borisovna Prinsman was a Russian language teacher.

In the postwar years the Jewish population of Alexandrovka decreased rapidly because a lot of them moved to other places and married non-Jews.
In the 1990s, Ilya Isakovich Dumchin was the head of the local Jewish community up to his death.

Members of Alexandrovka Jewish community, 2000's

Members of Alexandrovka Jewish community, 2000’s

During our visit in 2017, only a few completely assimilated Jews lived in Alexandrovka.

Famous Jews of Alexandrovka

Isroel-Moshe Agaryanskiy (1865, Alexandrovka – 1940, Klivlend, USA), rabbi.

Leonid(Lazar) Moiseevich Pyatigorskiy (1909-1993), physicist.

Leonid Pyatigorskiy

Leonid Pyatigorskiy

Bronislava Yakovlevna Zlatogorova(Goldberg) (1904-1995), ballerina.

Bronislava Zlatogorova

Bronislava Zlatogorova

Old Jewish cemetery

There are around 20 gravestones. Most of the cemetery was destroyed.

New Jewish cemetery

There are only postWWII graves. It is a part of common Alexandrovka’s cemetery.

 

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