Berezna is a town in Chernigov oblast, Ukraine. Population in 2011 was 4902 persons.
There were no Jews in the town at the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1847 the Jewish community of Berezna had 292 men and 252 women. In 1897, the population of the town numbered 9,922 of whom 1,357 were Jews. The Orthodox Christian population number 8,500.
In Russian Empire Business Directories by 1903 mentioned next Jewish enterpreneurs: – Butovskiy Samuil Izrailev (grocery) – Zalmanzon Izrail Aronov (grocery) – Magilner Toiba Shlemovna (haberdashery) – Poritskiy Todres Leibov(grain)
In the end of XIX century local Rabbi were David Arie Bakalieshchik and Shmuel Waltchek.
Shneur-Zalman Gorelik (1880-1974) was Berezna Rabbi from 1901 till 1926. After this he became a rabbi in Snovsk.
Jewish population of Berezna:
1847 – 544 jews
1897 – 1357 (13%)
1939 – 211
2014 – 0
After publication of the October Manifesto in 1905, there were progroms on 22, 23 and 24 October. There were no deaths but 10 Jews were wounded and 200 Jewish families robbered. [The October Manifesto issued by Tsar Nicholas promising democratic reforms was opposed by reactionary forces who unleashed their anger on Jews. Translator’s note]
In 1919 there was pillaging by Petliura’s [Ukrainian nationalist] forces.
In 1939 there were 211 Jews. Before the WWII there was a synagogue. Community collected money and other kinds of help for poorest Jews.
Einsatzgruppe 7B arrived in village at first day of occupation and killed 8 Jews. In November 5, 1941 there were killed 10 Jews. Most of them were aged people who haven’t managed to hide. Some Jews tried to escape to another places but were find and killed by local police. Family of Tamara Haimanets (3 people) was find and killed in Begach forest on April 23, 1942.
During the Holocaust all on local Jewish cemetery were killed school teacher Serafima Halyavko with 3 children (between 3 and 8 years old).
Yahad – In Unum project collect next memories in 2015 about Berezna Jews extermination:
“A shooter was positioned next to the pit and the victims were brought there, one by one, towards him. They placed them at the edge of the pit and he shot them, with a pistol, in the nape of the neck. When there were children, the shooter took them, broke their backs on his knee and threw their bodies into the pit.””
Common grave in Ortodox cemetery
During the Holocaust in Berezna were killed nearly 60 Jews that is 90% of all killed local inhabitans. We know a names of 36 only…
Also we know names of 25 Berezna Jewish warriors who were perrished during WWII. You can find all 61 names here.
After the WWII all killed dwellars were reburied in one common grave in Ortodox cemetery. Monument was erected on this place.
After the WWII Jews return to Berezna from evacuation and Red Army. Igor Shulman was a Head of local milk factory which became one of the most successful in the Chernigov region. He died in Israel.
Last Jew of Berezna was Boris Semenovich Drabkin, founder of local historical museum (1981) and school Head master. He emmigrated to Russia.
Boris Semenovich Drapkin (1925-2003)
In 2013 there was errected the monument on the grave of 5 Chairmans of local farms which were killed by nazi 0n October 10, 1941. Together with them was killed 4 Jews – kapellmeister of school’s orchestra Ruvim Yakovlevich Ostrovskiy, hatmaker Bentsion Leibovich Yukhnovskiy, wagoner Abraham Evseevich Karminskiy and tailor Leib Afroimovich Novitskiy. All names were mentioned on the gravestone.
Monument in the center of Berezna
In Chernigov Archiv (fond 469) store different lists of Berezna inhabitans from XIX – beginnig of XX century: merchants, conscription lists etc.
Berezna Jewish Cemetery
The cemetery is located on the south-eastern outskirts of the settlement in Lenina Street, near the house № 106. Cemetery was founded in first half of the XIX century.
The cemetery was demolished in 2000’s, only one tombstone remains. The site is owned by a private individual. According to memoirs of local dwellers last burials on destroyed cemetery were from 1970’s.
Photo and information was taken from Lo-Tishkah web-site.