Buky is a small town in Mankovka district, Cherkassy region. The town’s estimated population is 2,134 (2007). Since 1793 it’s been a part of the Russian Empire. In the XIX – early XX centuries, it was a shtetl of Uman district, Kiev province.
The first mention of Buky in historical record was in 1554.
In the early 18th century a synagogue was built in Buky and two more ones in the late XIX.
In the 1740’s, count Kiselev sold his Buky-Antonovka estate to duke Liubomirskiy who had attached nearby village Antonovka to Buky. At that time there were 496 households in both settlements. 3,133 people lived there including 260 Jewish households which contained 1,558 people.
Buky entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913
Jewish population of Buky:
1847 – 1182 Jews
1897 – 2298 (59%)
1923 – 281 Jews
1939 – 546 Jews
1950’s ~ 100
2016 – 1 Jew
In 1893, the Jews were prohibited to pray in new synagogues because the latter ones were situated at intervals less than it was allowed by law from the church.
In 1909, there was a Talmud-Torah and a private Jewish women’s college, in 1912 – a Jewish craft savings-and-loan society.
In the early 20th century there were four synagogues in Buky. Three of them were small buildings, and the main synagogue was located in the center of Buky, it was made of stone.
Story of the main Synagogue was taken from Moishe Olgin’s book:
They decided to build a new Shul, a magnificent one. They tore down the old one and the new one took 2 years to build. It turned out to be the Temple of Jerusalem. The high walls, stained glass, the sculptured Holy Ark, the names on the wall. Really a stately house of worship. You could fit 10 old Shulen in this one. When the building was done and the congregation came together to pray Mincha for the first time, they called out to our Jew to go up and pray, he looked around and answered, “No, I won’t pray: the Shul is too big for me”.
Site of Big Synagogue in Buky. It was destroyed in 1960’s
An old Jew from my village, a distant relative, told me how they built the big synagogue. With a special fondness, he told me how they made the repository of the Holy Scrolls which was carved out of copper and silver. This repository was about three aisles wide and stretched from the ground up to the ceiling. It was adorned with leaves, grapes, lions and eagles. My relative told me that he saw them hammer this whole scene with his own eyes.
Before the Revolution Buky became a rather large shtetl with the population of 5,461. It was one of the main trading centers for grain in Kiev province.
Moishe Olgin described shtetl Buky before World War I in his book:
Those two long green rows are shops which are in the center of the market. Opposite them are a group of houses – Abraham Koretzky’s inn. other inns, and the large clothes store. On the other side, in a corner, the synagogue surrounded by fences. A little further, the cluster with green towers.
Further up, you can smell the iron. This is the street of the blacksmiths. Each trade has its own street in 3 my village. I don’t know why, but people in similar trades like to live near one another. Perhaps this was because of the Gentiles.
Old PreRevolution building in Buky
On the hill, on the other side of Torhovitza, were the builders who made wheels and wagons. Below, on a side street, lived the leather crafters.
Also, there were mentioned names of some shteetl’s Jews:
…Ari Wolf, a doer in the burial society and the sexton… …Yankel the water-carrier…
Lubomirskys, the dukes (who own the village), Laybzy Dyzyk, the recluse, the miracles of a doctor in Talne who performs operations of which there are only one in the world.
Itzhak Yehushe, a talented scholar, who is also a God-fearing person.
Former shtetl’s centre
There were Klezmer group of Chaim from Sakalivka. He was a true artist, with half opened, dreamy, red eyes, and a pale, thin face, and long, white, thin fingers. He knew nothing about what was going on in the world. A child could have led him around by the nose. His wife, a practical Jewish woman, had aggravation from him because nothing worried him. The true “doer” in his band was David Masais, a short dark Jew who was not really a great fiddler, but an expert in Hebrew. Another “personage” in his band was Arel, the drummer, who always said, “We’re playing the wedding”, as though he was the big shot
Esteemed and treasured were Pinchas Makarever or Abraham Aradovsky or Abraham-Ber, the cantor. They were venerated, valued, and loved because they had a heart, a soul and a brain, and didn’t think much about worldly attractions.
Pinchas Makarever lived in Buki, in the Ukraine, in the second half of the nineteenth century. He had a number of children, among whom were Cheved Feldstein (mother of Sol, Ben and Martin Feldstein) and Chana Greenblatt (mother of Sheila Cheimets) and so is ancestor to their progeny, as well as to assorted Normans of Buffalo, Boston, etc.
Pinchas Makarever (1826 – 1910)
Another sort was Abraham Oradovsky. He was a very polished, fastidious, and exact Jew. He was removed from the world and never mixed into community affairs. He was never seen in the streets. His large house with high balcony and his large dry goods store faced the market. His store was always full of people, but Abraham Oradovsky sat in another room and studied. He did so secretly. He was a distinguished scholar
Abraham Ber, the cantor was also a doctor. Laybtzy Dyzyk and Beryl Dyzyk were most welathy person in shtetl. Zalman Zvanitsky study by himself and became a big lawyer in Uman.
Old Shlomo, Mordechai’s son, studied not for a diploma or for a chariot with four horses, but for enjoyment and fire that’s hidden in pure knowledge. Old Shlomo was originally a child prodigy, a young genius. He would sit night and day over the Gemorah and Book of Verses.
Efraim Priderke tried eight times in a row and finally entered the university. Now he’s a doctor somewhere
In the summer 1919, elements of the Voluntary Army (UNR) organized a pogrom in Buky.
About 200 Jews were killed during the pogrom. This atrocity was carried out by Ataman Tsvetkovskiy’s band in October 1920. But I haven’t find some confirmation if this information in books or another sources.
During one pogrom, there were killed two elderly Jews at the same time – Avrum Steinberg and Nukhim Margulis. After the murder of Nukhim Margulis, bandits came to the house the second time and wanted to kill his wife and children. When the bandits had already raised a revolver, a peasant who happened by ran up to them and said: “What are you doing? Kill the children first, don’t leave them orphans!’ With these words the peasant seized the gun out of the bandit’s hand and saved that family.
School building in Buky. It was used as prison during WWII
Most local Jews have fled from Buky, and the local peasants were doing as they please; acting on the precept and example of the bandits, they have plundered the property of the Jews.
In book of Moshe Olgin was mentioned next atrocities of local bandits:
“Moishe Olgin’s first cousin Mordecai Novaminsky and his wife had been beheaded in the Pogroms, their heads wrapped in a Torah“.
During the pogroms, the shtetl was ransacked and burned.
Between the Wars
As a result of the pogroms, the Jewish population declined to 281 people. (1923). In 1926, the Jewish population was 762 people (25%).
In the mid 1920’s, former residents of Buky founded a Jewish agricultural colony named after Rakovskiy in Kherson district. It included 27 people.
In 1930, a collective farm named after Lenin was formed in Buky. Another collective farm named after Frunze started its work in village Pavlopol, Buky district. 25 peasants’ families and 20 Jewish families from Buky were in it. The Piatigorskiys family was among them. Duvid was a breeder and Brukha worked as a lead-woman.
View of the Buky from the right bank of Tikich River
In the late 1933, this little collective farm was incorperated into larger one named after Lenin. The Jewish population of the village returned to Buky.
After the 1930’s, the synagogues were closed. The main synagogue was converted into a cultural center. On July 19th 1941, the village was occupied by the German troops. Some Jews managed to evacuate to the East. Men who were liable for military service were called up or joined the Red Army voluntarily. About 60% Jewish population remained in Buky under German occupation. In July-October 1941, German military commandant’s office was ruling the shtetl. A village council with the senior man (Starosty) at the head was formed and an auxiliary Ukrainian police that consisted of the locals as well. The latter took an active part in all “Jewish campaigns”.
In November 1941, the power came to the German civil council. Buky became a part of Tarashcha gebiet (district) of Kiev general district, Reichskommissariat Ukraine. Soon after the
Soon after the occupation the German military commandant’s office ordered the village council to register all the Jews. They were obliged to wear a band with a star of David on their arms and do different kinds of hard work. Already in August of 1941, the first campaign was held in the village. Several dozen Jews were shot. The execution was carried out near the river Gornyy Tikich.
Holocaust mass grave in Buky which was build up by private houses
Already in August of 1941, the first campaign was held in the village. Several dozen Jews were shot. The execution was carried out near the river Gornyy Tikich on the South-West of the village outskirts. Now there is a granite monument with the sign “ To the Fascists’ victims from the mourning relatives and countrymen”.
In the autumn 1941, Jewish intellectuals were shot on the cattle burial ground 100 meters from the village. Those who remained alive together with the Jews from neighboring villages were driven to the ghetto. It was organized in the former landowner’s farmhouse 1.5 km. from the village center.
In May 1942, all disabled Jews were shot and able-bodied ones worked in the quarry. This labour camp was eliminated in 1943 by shooting all the prisoners.
A Holocaust survivor Olga Rudaya recalled: “In the morning we were driven from the camp to a quarry, Buky – Antonivka. The quarriers stabbed the rocks, and we drove the trucks and put the stone in stacks. Then it was sent to build roads. How did we survive? How did we manage to stay alive? A great thanks to the quarriers, they and their wives gave us food. We the survivors are greatly indebted to them”.
Now there is a monument designed as a metal pyramid on its place. A granite monument is established without the indication of victims’ nationalities at the river Gornyy Tikich.
The shootings also took place on the Jewish cemetery. The children of mixed marriages were shot in Buky too.
Unmarked Holocaust mass grave near Christian cemetery in 100 meters from Jewish cemetery
Altogether, about 500 Jews perished during the occupation.
Common grave of Minzberg family in Buky Jewish cemetery:
After the war one Ukrainian woman recollected her old neighbor who had been hiding for a long time during the occupation of the village. Finally, he decided to give up. When she met him walking along the street she asked him surprisingly:
– “ Where are you going? They will shoot you!”
– “Let it be, my dear. I’m tired of such living…”
Full list of Holocaust mass graves was created by Lo-Tishkah project: 1 2 3 4
After the War
After the war about 25 Jewish families came back to Buky from the evacuation.
Here is a list of the Jewish families that lived in Buky after the war. It was noted down from Lidiya Andrushchenko’s(1925-2005) memories:
– Shulym and Inda Plotinskiy with their children; daughters Mania, Oma and son Izia. Shulym was a miller. Their children left for Israel and Moscow.
– Isrul and Zlota Mukomol with their son Misha who left for the USA. Isrul sewed service caps.
– War veteran Isaak Shwartsburd and his wife Liza with their children Boris and Nelia who left for Israel and the USA. He worked as a supplier. Liza survived during the shooting of the Jews from Buky, she got out of the pit. She was saved by the Ukrainian woman from the village of Talnoye district. During the raid Liza was captured and sent to Germany for the forced labor. However, she managed to survive and came back.
Former Jewish houses in shtetl’s centre
– Barber Isaak Ruban with daughters Zoya, Fania, and son Mitia.
– Supplier Velvl Ruban with two sons and a daughter.
– Duvid and Brukha Piatigorskiy with four children.
– Duvid and Khaya Albiter.
– Motia and Vita Shvydkikh
– Typesetter in the press house Bentsion Babich with his family
– Barber Gershl Zubatyy with his wife and daughters Klara and Dora.
– Fira Tomshiver lost her husband at the front. She raised three sons Abrasha, Shurik, and Misha
– Brothers Geyzburg’s families, Abram Borisovich’s and Naum Borisovich’s. The elder brother worked in a district consumer union and the younger one was a barber. There was one more Geyzburg, he was a cobbler.
– Khana Verbovskaya raised her two children, a son and a daughter, herself. She worked as a head of the canteen. Her husband died at the front. Son moved to America together with his family, and daughter left for Israel.
– Photographer Semen Davydovich Dayman with his wife Mania and son David.
Bushes on the site of second synagogue in the former shtetl centre
– Tailor Leyba Zhygun with his wife Roza and son Misha (war veteran) and daughter Bronia
– Tsolyk and Marim Vishnevetskiy with their son Shura who worked as a head of the post office in Buky. Tsolyk survived in occupation
– Zarnitskiy family, Nuta and Brushka. He was a seller in the shop and a good roofer. She was a dressmaker.
– Shulia and Basia Veksler. He was a great blacksmith, and worked together with blacksmith Benia Kogan. There was a married couple of teachers, Yefim Borisovich and Bronislava Moiseyevna Kogan. He was a Biology teacher and she taught Mathematics. They left for Australia with their children.
– The Krasilovskiys, Popkovs, Biedermans, Polishchuks, Fishmans, Gekkers, Albieters, Antonovskiys and many other families…
This map of Jewish houses was created in 2010’s by pupils of Buky School according to memories of old people:
Map of Jewish houses in Buky after WWII
1. Jewish cemetery; 2.Site of synagogue; 3.Misha Albiter; 4.Kogan (on the second floor – Alla Lomakina, Larisa); 5.Gershko Zubatiy; 6. Suhar, Manya, daughter Betya; 7. Senya Daiman; 8. Geyzberg; 9.Sandler; 10. He worked as a guard; 11.Zhigun; 12.Mariya Markovna Linetska; 13. Tula i Khona Berbovetskiy; 14.Tsolik; 15.Basya (her husband was blacksmith); 16.Fira (worked in trade); 17. Bella; 18. ; 19.Moth Shvidkiy; 20.Shulim; 21. Made a hats; 22.Lisa Shvarsburg; 23.Krashaniy; 24.Aron; 25.Dud and Bruha Pyatigorski; 26. Froiko Pyatigorskiy; 27.?; 28.Shaison – most of these people burried on Buky Jewish cemtery
After Buky district had been eliminated and attached to Mankovka, many families began o leave for Uman, Zvenigorodka, Zhashkov, and other larger cities of the USSR.
Children and relatives of those who had lived in Buky before the war used to come to the cemetery. They looked after the graves. The Jews of Buky had collected money and established a stele in memory of perished and deceased people.
In 1960, the synagogue building became unfit for further use. Nobody wanted to repair it and the building was demolished. Nuta Zarnitskiy was a seller in the shop and a good roofer. One day he was asked to fix the roof of the former synagogue which later became a cinema. He started to work and suddenly felt down from it and died.
In 1997, the most recent act of vandalism took place, when local residents drove into the forest on an excavator and dug up the Holocaust mass graves in search of gold. In 1997-8, the fences were stolen, the obelisk was overturned. It currently lies 50m away.
In 1998, two Jewish families lived in Buky.
The Jewish community was registered in 1999. Lidiya Markovna Andrushchenko was its head up to her death in 2005.
In 2012, Jewish volunteer from Boyarka Jeremy Borovitz together with the students of school in Buky created a small film about the history of the Jews of Buky.
In 2016 only one elderly Jewish woman lived in Buky…
Famous Jews from Buky
Mikhail Olgin, Iosef Neyman are pen-names of Moshe-Iosef Novomisskiy (1878, Buky – 1939, New York), a writer, editor, active participant of Jewish labor movement of Russia and communist movement of the USA.
Moyshe Khashchevatskiy (1897, Buky – 1943), a Jewish poet, translated classical Russian, Ukrainian, and German poetry into Yiddish. He died at the front.
Lidiya Andrushchenko’s memories about big Kagan family from Buky:
Before the war my father had a big family, my grandfather and grandmother Gershl and Riva Kagan. They had five daughters and two sons. Mordkha, my father, Liova, Ella, Bronia, Rakhil, Mania, and Ida. All daughters, my grandgather and grandmother died during the German occupation, their children also died. Their husbands died at the front. My father died at the front too. Only uncle Liova stayed alive, he managed to evacuate with his family and lived in Kazakhstan in Aktiubinsk.
From my mother’s side there were two uncles. They both left for America in the 20’s in search of a better life. Elder brother Gidalya moved first then his younger brother Fishl went after him. They had been corresponding with their mother up to the beginning of the war; they sent her parcels, photos. Uncle Fishl got married there in 1941 and sent us a big wedding photo where he was with his bride. They both were young and very nice. The war stopped the correspondence.
List of Jewish families in Buly from 1818 available by this link.
Buky Jewish cemetery
Cemetery locates in southern edge of the town. Over the bridge. 500 meters from the road to Popivka. Behind the Orthodox Christian cemetery. There are only post-WWII graves. All preWar graves were destroyed.
Common view on old part of Jewish cemetery (destroyed)
Graves on new part of cemetery:
Remains of gravestones on old part of cemetery: