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Emilchino

Emilchino

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A village named Emilchino has been known since the year 1585; however, little information exists about pre-revolutionary life there.

We do know that the town was originally incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. However, in 1793, Emilchino became part of the Russian Empire. We find some references to a Jewish population in the town during the XIX – XX centuries. Most Jewish residents worked in petty trading or in various crafts. During that time frame, the town became an integral part of Novograd-Volynskiy uyezd, Volyn gubernia. The town locates 40 minutes from Novograd-Volynskiy, only 154 kilometers from the regional center of Zhitomir.

Today, the population of Emilchino has grown in size since its days as a small shtetl and is a sizable Ukrainian village with no remnants of its Jewish past.

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The basic information for this article was gathered by Zalman Shkliar from memories provided by Etia Urman (Emilchino), Alex Kopelberg (Haifa, Israel), Aleksandr Yaroshevskiy (Karmiel, Israel), Arkadiy Zax (Niurnberg, Germany), Boris Latman, Bronia (Brantsia) Shargel and the daughter of Shimon Gurfinkel’s daughter.
The photographs were taken during JewUA.org’s expedition in the summer of 2017.

All information about PostWWII Jews of Emilchino can be found in the book Boris Latman, who is living in Germany.

Emilchino entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Emilchino entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Jewish population of Emilchino:
1897 – 1049 (42%)
1926 – 1383 (38%)
1939 – 1115 (21%)
1989 – 77 Jews
1999 ~ 30 Jews
2017 – 5 Jews

Information about Elmilchino as a shtetl is sparse and difficult to found.

Next information was found in “Memorial Zvil book”:
Local resident Gedale Levy was a Zionist leader before the revolution.
In the 1910’s, local rabbi Yakov Ben-Meir (his real surname is unknown) founded a Talmud-Torah for poor children where he taught Torah, supplied the children with clothes and other necessities. Later he moved to Odessa.

Yakov Ben-Meir

Yakov Ben-Meir

Before the Russian Revolution, unofficial head of Jewish community was Schneidermann, owner of a ready-made clothing store.

Emilchino in the beginning of XX century. Photo provided by Vladimir Dvoretskiy from Emilchino museum

Emilchino in the beginning of XX century. Photo provided by Vladimir Dvoretskiy from Emilchino museum

Center of Emilchino, 2017

Center of Emilchino, 2017

Civil War pogroms

During the Civil War the Jewish population of Emilchino suffered pogroms, robberies and health emergencies. On 22 April,1919, for example, Petliura’s troup on the way from Olevsk to Novograd-Volynsk, attacked the Jewish residents of the town in a two-day pogrom during which 11 people were killed, 18 shops were burned, and countless individuals and shops were robbed. Nakhman Vladimirskiy was among those Jews killed.

Detail description of pogrom in Emilchino from the book “The Slaughter of the Jews in the Ukraine in 1919” by Heifetz Elias:

In 1920, the shtetl was attacked again, this tine by White Poles in another progrom. There is no information as to casualties and other damages. No information seems to be available about additional anti-Semitic incidents after that time.

Elya Peisahovich Kipnis (1887-1961) (in the middle) during his service in Russian army, 1917. Photo was sent to his mother in Emilchino

Elya Peisahovich Kipnis (1887-1961) (in the middle) during his service in Russian army, 1917. Photo was sent to his mother in Emilchino

Between the Wars

After the Civil War, authorities opened a seven-form school in Emilchino with Yiddish as the language of instruction. Mikhail Bentsionovich Brayman was the principal. The pupils studied a variety of subjects including mathematics, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Russian, German, history, chess and violin, PE.

A Jewish collective farm named after Karl Marx was formed in the village in 1924. Kushnirskiy was its chairman. In 1925, 38 people worked in this farm.
In the 20-30’s, many local inhabitants relocated to the Crimea where the Soviet Union organized Jewish collective farms.

Head of the Jewish collective farm Kushnirskiy (with 2 medal)

Head of the Jewish collective farm Kushnirskiy (with 2 medal)

By the 1930’s, the Jewish community of Emilchino had its own rabbi. A chazan would often come to the shtetl on Fridays. However, the synagogue was closed by the authorities in 1937 and turned into a club. After that, Jews gathered for prayer on the Sabbath in a small house located not far from the old synagogue. The synagogue was demolished around 2000.

In 1937, the Jewish school was also closed and the principal’s wife was arrested. Russian authorities turned the Jewish school into a Russian one.
Among local Jews, Berko Nakhmanovich Vladimirskiy (1906-1938) was also arrested and shot. Other particulars during the repressions in 1937 – 1938 are not available…

Emilchino komsomol members, 1934

Emilchino komsomol members, 1934

Holocaust

In August 1941, a Jewish resident burned down about ten Jewish houses so that they would not be captured and used by the Germans…

With the German occupation, (July 2, 1941-January 1, 1944) Nazi authorities established a ghetto where they confined the Jewish population of Emilchino as well as Jews from surrounding areas. On 19 August 1941, the local Nazi Commander of the 8th regiment of the first SS infantry battalion Zax was mortally wounded. In retaliation, SS brigadefuhrer shot 38 Jewish men (according to other sources, the number was 46).

Approximate place of Jewish ghetto in 1941

Approximate place of Jewish ghetto in 1941

In September-October 1941, most of the remaining Jews in Emilchino were shot near the river Ubort and on the outskirts of Gorkiy street.

Holocaust mass grave in the end of Horkogo Str. Local authorities placed a new memorial (cross!?!) and didn't mention nationality of vicitms, as their Soviet predecessors

Holocaust mass grave in the end of Horkogo Str. Local authorities placed a new memorial (cross!?!) and didn’t mention nationality of victims, as their Soviet predecessors

Old-timers say that in early 1942, 32 people, Jews and non-Jews, were buried alive near the building at 8a Vorovskiy street. Another report states that an unknown number of Jews from Emilchino was massacred in Novograd-Volynskiy. After the war, remains of some of the martyrs were reburied in a mass grave at the local Jewish cemetery.

Mass grave of local Jews and POWs near the school in Emilchino

Mass grave of local Jews and POWs near the school in Emilchino

437 Jews lived in the district. 87 Jews were executed in the district.

This Holocaust victims list was compilated from “Memorial book of Zhitmir region” by Boris Latman and Zalman Shklyar:

In May 1945 or 1946, a mass grave was opened in Emilchino. Approximately 10-15 bodies were found. The surviving inhabitants of Emilchino identified their relatives and friends by their clothes or other possessions. The remains were taken to the cemetery and reburied. By 1950 there had been the gardens of the locals from Emilchino.

Dania Bunis was drafted into the Russian army at the beginning of the war. He was captured by the Nazis but was able to hide his Jewishness and survived. He returned to the shtetl after the war.

After the WWII

When the shtetl was liberated and the Nazis defeated, Jewish families who had fled and survived, returned to Emilchino. However, as in many parts of Europe, the survivors were often not welcome by their non-Jewish neighbors and were fearful of local Nazi collaborators, those in the town itself as well as those hiding out in nearby forests. For example, the Goldfains’ house was burnt down several times by anti-Jewish elements, and eventually, they left the shtetl.

This list of postWWII Emilchino Jews was created by Boris Latman:

In the late 40’s – early 50’s, the majority of schoolchildren were Jewish. Because of the Jewish majority in the school, non-Jews refrained from anti-Jewish insults.

Site of Emilchino synagogue. It was closed ion 1930's and destroyed during the WWII. Last synagogue wall was destroyed in 1960's and new concert hall was build there

Site of Emilchino synagogue. It was closed ion 1930’s and destroyed during the WWII. Last synagogue wall was destroyed in 1960’s and new concert hall was build there

By the late 50’s, however, the number of Jewish children grew smaller.

As a rule, Jewish families lived in the center of the shtetl, rather than on the outskirts of town although there were Jewish families who lived in other villages in the district such as Sereda, Serba, Podluby and Barashi, a Jews from Emilchino worked in all branches of national economy: in hospital, school, barbershops, where five of six barbers were Jewish. A lot of Jews were cobblers and tailors.
Jews gathered for praying in private houses. Mikhail Fishin remembers that during Simkhat-Torah they had a minyan. Jews were dancing in leather boots covered with tar. “It was real fun, real simkhes,” he said. Most of the Jewish residents in and around Eilchino during that time frame were elderly. He recalls Naftula Reber from village of Sereda. There was even a Torah that was transferred from village to village to protect Jewish worshippers and the Torah itself from the authorities and avoid charges of conspiracy by the government.. Before Passover, Jewish women gathered in private house and baked matza. An elder melamed Moshe Zius taught Jewish children. At the beginning of the autumn season before the High Holidays, Jews tried to go to Veledniki to visit the grave of a Tsadik.

Old rebuilded Jewish house in the centre of Emilchino

Old rebuilded Jewish house in the centre of Emilchino

Throughout this period, Jewish youth were leaving the shtetl to study in the big cities. Elders died and the number of Jews in town dwindled. By,the early 1990’s, mass emigration of Jews began. Destinations were mostly Israel, the United States and Germany. By 2017, only five Jews remained.

Anatoliy Semenovich Kuchinskiy, head of the district veteran community, set a memorial plaque on a building identified as the Jewish ghetto. Unfortunately, it had disappeared by the time of my visit (whose visit) in 2017.

Old rebuilded Jewish house in the center of Emilchino

Old rebuilded Jewish house in the center of Emilchino

In 1970, 1975 and 1980 former graduates and pupils of the Jewish school met Jewish school Principal Brayman in Kiev. (Reunion? This sounds like an interesting fact. Any thing more specific you can mention would be of interest.) In 1980, Brayman died soon after the meeting.

Famous Jews from Emilchino

Naum Meyerovich Tikhii (Shtilerman) (1920, Emilchino – 1997, Kiev), a poet, translator.

Naum Meyerovich Tikhii

Naum Meyerovich Tikhii

Jewish cemetery

During the war the Jewish cemetery was destroyed but after the war relatives came and restored the graves. That’s why a pre-war part of the cemetery was preserved.

 

 

 

 

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