Koneła (Polish), Конела – Konela (Ukrainian, Russian)
Konela is a village located in the Cherkassy region of central Ukraine and a part of Zhashkov district. The village’s estimated population is 601 (as of 2001).
Konela is approx. 20 km from Zhashkov, 5 km from Sokolovka and 44 km from Uman. In XIX – beginning of XX century Konela was a shtetl of Lipovets Yezd of Kiev Gubernia
A Jewish community existed in Konela from the beginning of the 19th century.
Jewish population of Konela:
1847 – 445 Jews
1897 – 744 (36,2%)
1923 – 225
1930’s ~ 100 Jews
1995 – 1
1996 – 0
According to Pokhilevich (needs reference) in the mid-19th century, the population of Konela included 822 Orthodox Christians, 76 Roman Catholics, and 1,360 Jews. This contradicts with the data from the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia which states that in 1847 445 Jews lived in Konela.
In the second half of the 19th century, there were two synagogues (1865). The key Jewish occupations of the village were crafts and trade.
In 1914, the Jews owned two pharmacies, two lumberyards, several mills and nine stores.
The Jewish population in 1900 was 744 people (36,2%), in 1923 – 225.
At the beginning of the XX century, economic and political turmoil caused many Jews to leave Konela and emigrate to the United States. In America a Sokolifker–Kenaler Fraternal Association was established in 1923.
Konela panorana by Leon Vichylkovskiy, 1911
By the 1930s, there were about 100 Jews living in Konela.
The Jewish community of Konela was destroyed during the Holocaust. According to local residents, the sites of mass executions were as follows:
1. According to a local resident Oleg Karpun, 70 Jews from Konela were shot and buried in a mass grave located in the western outskirts of the village near the cattle cemetery ( on the right side of Zhashkov-Uman road)
2. The remainder of Konela’s Jewish population was executed at an unknown location in the winter of 1942.
Konela enterpreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913
I have found the names of only five Jewish men from Konela drafted into the Red Army and killed in action during the Second World War:
– Kuts Leibovich Berdichevskiy (1910 – 1943)
– Roina Shmilkovitch Belilovskiy (? – 1941)
– Itsko Bentsionovich Litichevskiy (1907-1942)
– Shevel Benevitch Lysnovskiy (1906-1943)
– Abraham Israileich Tylchinskiy (1913-1944)
During the German occupation, the Nazis destroyed Konela’s old wooden synagogue. According to a local historian Oleg Karpun it was a 2-storey building.
A Ukrainian peasant Philip Karpun (1884-1961) from Konela saved a Jewish girl named Sheila Grabova (1924-1978).
In 1945, a local Jew, Peisa Shlemovich Ostrobrod (1924-1995), designed a memorial, a granite obelisk with a five-pointed star on top it. This monument was erected at the site of the mass execution.
Pesia was the last Jew remaining in the village…
River near Konela
Every year in May the Jews from Konela from different parts of the Soviet Union would gather at this monument to commemorate the victims. In the 1970s-1980s not many people attended this event so instead they gathered at the Ostrobrod’s house.
A local historian Oleg Karpyn noticed three non-Christian gravestones in the Orthodox cemetery. He assumed that some Jewish families returned to Konela after WWII.
The State Archive of the Cherkasy oblast has few documents related to Konela:
– Public institutions and law enforcement. The burgher councils of the Kiev province. Zhashkivska, the city of Zhashkov, Tarascha County. F.846, 1909-1915, 15 c.
– Birth/Death/Marriage for 1851 (F.1163 Op.1 File.2)
Famous Jews from Konela
Sam Reed (real name – Samuel Pobiersky, 20.08.1906, Konela – 3.08.1999, Durham, North Carolina) – US trade unionist, political and civil rights leader.
Konela Jewish cemetery
The cemetery was destroyed during the Second World War. There was a Soviet military defensive line at the site and the territory was dug up with trenches. According to another version, there was a German anti-aircraft battery located here. The cemetery was partly destroyed during a road reconstruction project in 1959.
In 1950s the cemetery was used by the local children as a football pitch. All gravestones were taken by the locals and used for different purposes.
Information taken from Lo-Tishkah website.
Holocaust mass graves
– Urochische “Konelskyi les” forest, 25m from the road around the forest. There is a memorial on the site.
Three graves were discovered here in 1964. Jews, Communists, partisans and their families from 3 different districts of the Cherkassy region were killed here.
– western outskirts of the village, 50m from a local cattle farm on the banks of the river Konelka. There is a memorial on the site.
In 1945, Peisa Shlemkovich Ostrobrod erected a small earth mound and put a granite obelisk with a five-pointed star on top. The Ostrobrod family have been taking care of the mass grave for many years. The memorial is a stone block with a star on top. It is located on a hill with a metal fence around it.
The local authorities tried to destroy this monument in 1960s but Peisa Ostrobrod defended it.
The stone block was taken from a Catholic cemetery, there is an inscription on the reverse:
zmail 1861 r Luty
Pokoy Jego Popelom
Information taken from Lo-Tishkah.