Brovary is a city located in Chernigov region of northern Ukraine. The city’s estimated population is 100,865 (as of 2016).
Brovary became a part of Russia Empire in 1667, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was shtetl of Oster Yezd of Chernigov Gubernia. It is approx. 51 km from Kozelets and in 28 km from Kiev.
The Brockhaus-Efron Encyclopaedia notes that Brovary was a mansion settlement with a Cossack population of more than 10 per cent.
According to the law of May 14, 1840, Jews were not permitted to settle there; apparently, an 1845 attempt to do so failed. However, in Chapter 55 of the 1866 Respons by the Tzemach Tzedek Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the inhabitants of Brovary are mentioned with regards to a question on the suitability of cereals for Pesach.
Therefore, in 1866 (or even earlier, given that the Responsa was compiled over many years), it can be presumed that there was a Jewish community in Bravary with connections to the hasidic Habad dynasty
Under the 14 May 1840 decree, Jews were not allowed to settle in Brovary. Later the decree was overturned. In 1897 there were 888 Jews, making up over a quarter of all 3817 residents of Brovary. They had a prayer house and a Jewish cemetery. Jewish prayer houses were also located in Zavorychi and Semipolki villages (a village of Gogolev had its own prayer house and there was a rabbi called Liber Liberzon (1867–year of death unknown).
Brovary on the Pre-Revolution map, 1868
The Jews in Chernogov guberniya (pre-1917 administrative district) owned 1,144 pubs by 1882. To add to that, there was a great deal of unpatented pubs, outside of the police and excise officials records. By that time the pub in Brovary belonged to one Izhac Paliy who also owned the village post office.
Jewish population of Brovary:
1897 – 888 (23%)
1923 – 646 jews
1926 – 526 (10%)
1939 – 485 (5%)
1989 — 360 jews
1999 – 110 jews
The Jews in Brovary were mostly engaged in small-scale trade and medical services which contributed greatly to the town development. Thus, in 1898 a Jew named Shperling, a local merchant, set up a soft drinks manufacture in Brovary, a similar business founded in 1907-1908 by another merchant called Eistrakh. Another Jewish merchant A.V. Yaniskor built two, soap and leather producing factories in Brovary in 1904, and in 1907 a merchant called I.M. Iyerusalimskiy built an ironworks on the land he had rented. He also owned a steam powered mill. A bit earlier, in 1901-1902 a merchant Feigin opened an oil mill, another merchant David Volfovich Briker founded an enterprise which produced carriage grease. There was an insurance agency “Rossia” in Brovary also headed by a Jew named Abram Mendelevich Galperin. Brovary sawmill belonged to a Kligerman. The owners of other small-scale businesses were Sandal and Fereter.
In the very beginning of the XX century Yakov Moiseevich Berkovich applied to the local authorities to open a chemist’s in Brovary.
In 1913 a dentist’s was opened by a graduate of Medicine department at St. Vladimir University, Zelda Mendeleevna Rubinshtein.
The owner of the Brovary postal house was a merchant of the 2nd guild, a hereditary honorary freeman, Abram Leibovich Ashkenazi (1846-1919) who was murdered by Denikin’s soldiers during the civil war of 1917-1922.
Cival War pogroms
During the period of the Revolution and the Civil War in Ukraine (1917-1922), a great deal of Jewish small traders and craftsmen went bankrupt as a result of their property having been confiscated, pogroms and endless pillaging by the militants. However, even more tragically, the whole existence of Jewish community in Ukraine was under threat: numerous pogroms occurred in Brovary and Gogolev.
On 23 March 1918 a detachment of haydamaks (members of an anti-Bolshevik Ukrainian cavalry of Hetman P.Skoropadskiy) entered Gogolev village, where broke into Jewish houses and shot two Jews. One of the murdered men – a representative of the local Jewish community B.Kaganov – was shot to death right in front of his mother, wife and six children. The haydamaks went on breaking into Jewish houses demanding vodka and money even at night.
In February 1919 Brovary Jews suffered from another pogrom, organized by the Directory (Ukrainian Government in 1918-1920).
In August 1919 the town suffered from the pogrom organized by Denikin’s military forces. The beginning of 1920 was marked by the pogrom instigated by Romashka, a Cossack chieftain.
In 1922 “The Jewish Tribune” newspaper in Paris published: “….the Jews from the provinces (particularly from Brovary) ran for dear life to Kiev….”. Various anti-Bolshevik military units and Cossack troops instigated pogroms against the Jewish population of Brovary.
Jewish property suffered greatly during the pogroms.
The Jewish population had decreased to 646 by 1923 and further to 526 by 1926. In 1928, the Jewish community of Brovary appealed to the Habad Admor, Yosef Itzchak Schneerson, to provide material assistance of the sum of 400 roubles for repairs to the mikvah.
In 1928 the Brovary Jewish community pleaded with J. I. Shneerson to provide welfare assistance in the amount of 400 rubles to repair the mikvah.
There was a synagogue in Brovary before the war. It was situated at the crossing point of three streets: I.Gonty (previously Vorovskiy Street), Lenina and Turgeneva streets. It was a circular two-story building. Before the war, the synagogue was turned into a cinema. During the occupation the Nazis even showed films there. When they burnt everything in the area three weeks after the invasion, they also burnt the synagogue to the ground.
The Jewish population of Brovary in 1939 was 485, five per cent of the total population.
The Great Patriotic War started in Brovary on 25 June 1941 when German bombers launched their airstrike over the Brovary airfield. In the end of September 1941 the town was occupied by the units of German 6th Army.
Local Brovary Jews were herded together but then allowed to go back home. The Nazis said to them: “Take all your valuables; we are going to send you to Palestine”. The Jews believed, took their belongings, but they were sent to Babiy Yar instead. Witnesses saw some Jewish families sent to be executed: the Krupiak’s family (two sisters – one named Fenya, another sister’s name is not known), the Rosumovich, the Barylo, the Novoselskiy.
Righteous Among the Nations in Brovary and Brovary district:
Nadezhda Pavlovna Chernaya
Ekaterina Vasilevna Polishyk (village Rozhny)
In September 1941 in the outskirts of Trebukhov village German units destroyed two partisan detachments which arrived to the area from Kharkov. They consisted mostly of students. There were many Jews among those who were shot and their names are known.
in 1941, the Nazis set up two concentration camps for the Soviet prisoners of war in the area – one camp was in the village of Gogolev and contained between four and 40 thousand POWs; another one was located in Brovary and housed about 18 thousand POWs.
Headquarter of Brovary concentration camp
The camp was located in the premises of the former labor colony. The Nazis tormented the Jews: they put them in stocks and forced them to walk. There were some witnesses who reported seeing semi-naked Jews walking along Kievskaya Street dressed in only in their underwear. They put their hands over the shoulders of those marching ahead so that nobody could see them naked. The others were dressed in coats. The number of the prisoners varied from 33 to 60 thousand according to different sources. Every day three carts loaded with corpses left Brovary. Dead bodies were buried in four places: in the antitank ditch (the Brovary Jews were shot there as some witnesses testified), in the clay mine and other places.
The Jewish POWs from Darnitsa camp were brought to the area of the local military administrative agency in Brovary – there was a sand pit over there (nowadays it is the area between Lenina and Gorkogo streets with a local school No3 and some apartment blocks built for the employees of “Geologorazvedka” administration). In 1942 people saw three mobile gas chambers bring the people who had already suffocated of gas. Their dead bodies were taken from the vans with hooks and thrown into the pit. So far the exact number of those people has not been established.
Approximate burial place of POWs from Darnitsa concentration camp
Yakov Polischuk recalls the Brovary concentration camp:
We were driven to the Brovary camp. Barbed wire, four machine-gun towers. Thousands of prisoners of war without food and water. We slept rough. First Nazi helpers–local police with white arm bands – appeared. They were mostly Ukrainians. One day the Nazis ordered all Jews, commissars and political officials to step forward. Those who did not obey were threatened to be shot there and then. Some prisoners stepped out unwillingly, and there were those they served at the front with, who were now Nazi sympathizers. These prisoners were executed outside of the camp fence. One of them said to me: “You must run”. That was my first escape of the three ones during the war.
By the end of 1941 over 2,000 Jews were shot in Brovary.
Red Army soldiers from Brovary perished in WWII:
Ehil Gulkin, perished in 1945
A.I. Zastenker, perished in 1941
Of the more than 2000 Jews who were killed in Brovary we know the names of only 34 civilians and 60 names of Jewish soldiers from Brovary and Brovary district which were killed during WWII. You can find 3 lists here, here and here (in Russian).
Doctor Isaac Feldman
A doctor named Issaac Lazarevich Feldman lived and worked in Brovary from 1904 – 1942. (He was murdered by the Nazis during the occupation).
Isaac Feldman was born in Kiev in 1874. Being a student of St Vladimir University, he was excluded from the University for his participation in the revolutionary movement. He still graduated and in 1904 Isaac Feldman started work in Brovary. A small ambulance station, where Isaac Lazarovich and his assistant treated their patients was the provider of medical service to the residents of over 20 villages.
Issaac Lazarevich Feldman (1874-1942)
Isaac Feldman went to work during the day as well as at nights as a local general practitioner, a surgeon, a gynecologist, a pediatrician, a nerve specialist. In 1911 Feldman bought a one acre plot of land where the district council, persuaded by the doctor, built a small hospital for 10 beds. He never charged the poor and frequently paid for their treatment.
In 1915 Feldman’s wife Yelizaveta Aaronivna died and two years later he married Maryna Maksimovna Stasyuk.
A decade later the hospital was extended to 25 beds; the ambulance station was re-built as a health center. During the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933 Isaac Lazarovich not only treated the sick but supported the starving population.
As the time went on, Isaac Feldman’s son Leonid became an engineer and moved to Leningrad with his family.
On the 2nd day of Great Patriotic War the Nazis bombed the Brovary air field. The wounded were taken to hospital and Isaac Feldman remained with them, refusing to be evacuated.
During the occupation period Feldman treated soldiers and officers who managed to escape from concentration camps, provided medical support to partisans, rescued lots of Brovary inhabitants from departure to Germany. One day it was suggested that Isaac Lazarovich should hide with a loyal family in Gogolev, but he refused to do so. While risking his life to save others, he contracted typhoid. Weakened by the disease, 68-year old doctor was arrested after a report to the Nazis. He left a note before leaving for his execution:
“Dear Brovarians, I am going to be taken away today. If I deserved to be betrayed, if you are able to give me your hand – please, do it. Please, protect my children. Love you. I.Feldman. 19.12.42.”
Memorial table to doctor Feldman on children’s polyclinic in Brovary
On the same day, 19 December 1942, doctor Feldman and his sister Olena Lazarivna Pavlova were executed in the local Gestapo yard.
Following the execution, Doctor Feldman and his sister were buried in the Jewish cemetery which was closed before the war: Isaac Feldman had bought a burial plot for his family long before. Their bodies were reburied in the town cemetery after Brovary was liberated.
Old monument on doctor’s grave
In July 1991 a memorial commemorating the doctor’s name was erected in front of a children’s clinic in Kirova Street where the first ambulance station where Isaac Feldman worked was located.
One of those who kept the memory of Isaac Feldman alive was Vladimir Rudeshko. He was brought up alongside with the doctor’s family and got along well with his son Leonid and granddaughter Tatiana Avrutina until they died. After that, he continued to correspond with the doctor’s great-granddaughter who is a doctor in St. Petersburg, and his great-grandson –Ph.D in Physics and Maths Yevgeniy Avrutin who lives with his family in England. Sadly, Vladimir Rudesko is no longer with us.
In 2004 a newly paved street in Brovary was named after Isaac Feldman.
The doctor’s great-grandson Yevgeniy Avrutin visited Brovary recently. He passed on Isaac Feldman’s belongings to the local historical museum: medical instruments, a surgeon’s chest, pen and ink, a moustache brush found in the place where the doctor was shot, his last note. These things are exhibited in the cabinet dedicated to this outstanding person.
New monument on grave of doctor Feldman
19 December 2016 will be the 74th anniversary since the death of the humanitarian who was the father of health care service in Brovary. This article is another memorial to this selfless son of Brovary.
After the War
Local resident recalls:
I remember some Jews living in Brovary before and after the war. I went to school together with Yevgeniy Tsymerman whose family evacuated. The Brikers owned the roadside inn. One of the Jewish girls, called Golda sold sunflower seeds near Razvilka bus stop (a monument to Taras Shevchenko is there nowadays). Orlov’s family owned the lemonade factory. Pogrebinskiy Emmanuil was the editor of the local newspaper “Stahanovets” (“New Life”). Braginskaya was the village club director: she ran dancing and singing classes. Talisman Dosiy Semenovich was an accordion player; he was our music teacher at school. In Kievskaya Street at Razvilka lived Kaplinskiy who secretly run a mutual aid society. He was in evacuation. There was a dentist Ida Shrabshtein with her husband; a hairdresser Fainitskiy Mark with his wife Luba.
Officially Jewish community was created again only in 1990’s.
Famous Jews from Brovary
Leo Motzkin (1867, Brovary – 1933, Paris) was a Russian Zionist leader. A leader of the World Zionist Congress and numerous Jewish and Zionist organizations, Motzkin was a key organizer of the Jewish delegation to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and one of the first Jewish leaders to organize opposition to the Nazi Party inGermany. After him
one of the suburbs in the city of Haifa was named (Kiryat Motzkin).
Leo Motzkin (1867 – 1933)
Paul Lvovich Lazarev (born 1923), Major General of the Medical Service (1982) of USSR Police forces.
Paul Lvovich Lazarev
Brovary Jewish cemetery
The cemetery site is located on Kirova St, near the fire department building. There is no longer any visible trace of its existence. While there are no remaining gravestones or cemetery-related structures at this cemetery site.
Many of the Jewish graves found in the nearby municipal cemetery were moved there when the Jewish cemetery was demolished in the 192os.
Site of destroyed Jewish cemetery
Part of the grave in tree
Destroyed Jewish cemetery on the map
Researchers of Lo-Tishkah project find a number of Jewish graves in the municipal cemetery opposite of the site of destroyed Jewish cemetery. However, there is no specific Jewish section. The stones are made of marble, granite and sandstone. The inscriptions are in Russian and Hebrew. The oldest tombstone dates from 1920, the newest from 1974.