Germanovka is a village located in Obuhov district of Kiev. Germanovka is located on the Krasna River. The city’s estimated population is 1,667 (as of 2001).
Before the Revolution it was a shtetl of Vasilkov yezd, Kiev guberniya.
Germanovka is approx. 62km south of Kiev.
While it is thought that Germanovka’s first Jewish community was established in the 17th century and suffered under the Khmelnytskyi pogroms, there is no data available to confirm this. The Jewish community re-appeared in the middle of the XIX century when Germanovka became an important trading centre. A synagogue was built in 1849. In pinkos dating back to 1848, a pogrom of 1881 is recorded.
In 1864, the Jewish community of Germanovka numbered 442. In 1891, this number grew to 895. In 1897, the total population of Germanovka was 3,628, and there were 1,049 Jews among them. By 1900, there were 1,352 Jews in the town.
Jewish population of Germanovka:
1861 — 422 jews
1897 — 1049 (30%)
1919 — 866 jews
1950’s ~ 15
2015 – 1 jew
By 1900, there were 1,352 Jews in the town.
Between 1908 and 1913 the town had two synagogues, a Talmud-Torah and three cheders. Local resident A.N. Shafarenko said that there were three synagogues in the town at the beginning of the XX century:
– one of them was on the site of the present meat and milk market hall
– the second one was were the village hall now stands
– the third was situated near the cemetery on the territory of Shafarenko’s farmstead.
List of Germanovka entrepreneurs in 1913
According to local residents, the Jewish community lived in Zatserkva (beyond the Krasnaya River, on the peninsula). There was a line of Jewish shops from the Zatserkva bridge to the municipal grammar school. Altogether, there were 46 Jewish shops in the town.
Only two of the buildings in which they were housed remain: the Patlakh family shop (now a gallery) and a drapery (the building across the street, 16 Shevchenko Street, currently the Museum of the Cossacks – in 2009 the museum featured an exhibition devoted to the Jews of Germanovka).
Jewish shop in the center of Germanovka. Now it is a museum
The basic occupation of the Jewish population in the XIX – XX centuries were crafts, petty trade and agency in merchant trade.
When public communication services started to appear in the provinces, the first post office was in Germanovka. It was called “The Post and Telegraph office” and, until 1912 it served Germanivka, Obukhivka, Trypillia, and Vasylivka. The nearest branches were only in Vasylkov, Kaharlyk and Bila-Tserkva.
Jewish shop of merchant Patlah. Now it is a painting gallary.
In Germanovka museum store handwritten remembrance about life in Germanovka which was written in 1960’s by former local resident and relay to beginning of XX century:
When when I became older, I saw the market square differently. It was always extremely lively. The square was surrounded by the houses of local Jews, their shops, two-storied wooden pubs. They sold beer on the ground floor and the owner’s family lived above. There was a whole row of such pubs. It was always noisy and lively around there.
The shops in Germanovka were not much different from the metropolitan ones. They were mostly brick with large windows and very well appointed. The traders were welcoming.
There was a great pharmacy in Germanovka, (it seems there was another one but I cannot quite recall).
There was also the post office and the telegraph, and there might have been a telephone connection with the capital.
The Jewish community was somehow related to all these developments. It jump-started and actively promoted trade and improvements of the town. There was a market, and lively trading took place on the square near the church every Friday.
Main Jewish neighborhood was the peninsula in the center of photo
Eleven times per year on a Friday there was a noisy fair in Germanovka. Traders and buyers from all nearby villages came to the fair. The fair buzzed, yelled, laughed, sang, danced, drank beer and vodka, in a word, everybody had fun!
On the spot where there is a monument to war victims I can still remember the remains of a large stone building called “The Cellar Pub”
This building was half basement, one part of the basement was a large alcohol store, where they sold vodka to the whole neighborhood, and the other part was a pub where they poured vodka from the barrels into “quarts”.
The upper part of the building was a kind of a “hotel” and an inn and it was so big that more than a hundred drays could shelter there!
All the way from the bridge and up to the weir the whole of the central square was taken up with Jewish houses and shops. Many Jewish houses were so old that the ground level reached half way up the windows.
There were more than 2,000 Jewish inhabitants, who had their own administration, “The Tradesmen Guild” which was under the local authority control.
There were two large Jewish synagogues, called schools or prayer houses.
There was a well-appointed proper bathhouse and a large and well-organised Jewish cemetery (out on the ravines near the garden of the Shafarenkos).
There was also a good butchery. As all trade was in the Jewish hands…
According to local residents interviewed during an IAJGS project, the most important members of the Jewish community in Hermanivka were Yampolsky Avrum-Yos Duvidov, Yampolsky Haim-Moshe Gershkov, Rogovoy Haim-Yona Leybov, Yaffa Naftula, Arlihman Anna Yosevna, Borchenko Yoyna Mordkov, Koplovsky A.A. and Shtenberg S.M.
Record about official Germanovka Rabby in 1912
In 1886-1899, Efroim Volfman (1855-?) was a rabbi in Germanovka, since 1899 the rabbi was Itschak –Aydzhik Volfman (1878-1941).
Isaak-Aisek Volfman (1877/78 – 1941) , last Rabbi of shtetl Germanovka.
Civil War pogroms
During the Civil War the Jews of Germanovka suffered from gang raids. A terrible pogrom was instigated by the detachments of Ataman Zelenyi in 1919. On September 10th 1919, one more pogrom occurred. As a result, most Jews left Germanovka.
A terrible pogrom was instigated by the detachments of Ataman Zelenyi in 1919. On September 10th 1919, one more pogrom occurred. As a result, most Jews left Germanovka.
The account of eyewitness Iona Mordkov Borchenko is as follows:
“On August 28, a gang led by Dyakov arrived in the village. They went from house to house, stabbing men, women and chidldren without distinction. In many cases, they raped women and then killed them. The slaughter continued for four days. The number killed reached 120-150. Some Jewish houses were set on fire.”
At first, non-Jewish residents hid their Jewish acquaintances but then stopped doing so as a result of threats. The surviving Jews fled.
After the gang left, active units of the Volunteer Army entered the village; after that, the assaults on the village’s Jews continued.
Between September 15 and 18, according to the same report, Dyakov’s gang returned and Hermanivka’s remaining Jewish population, 250 people, was totally exterminated. Several dozen people who managed to flee were killed on the way; just one Jewish boy who was hidden by local residents survived. The victims of this pogrom (200 people in total according to A. Shafarenko) were buried in the Jewish cemetery (now in the centre of a potato field).
From handwritten remembrance about life in Germanovka which was written in 1960’s by former local resident:
Jewish pogroms were especially tragic (Diakov and a detachment of Chechens under the command of the Whites Guard officers).
The rumors about pogroms reached Germanovka. It was very alarming. A word would go round, “Put the icons in the windows. They are coming!”
Two officers were having dinner at our kitchen and an old lady – a Jewish pharmacy holder –was hiding on top of the Russian brick stove. Several Jews were hiding in a hole in the yard between the neighbors shed and our haystack.
Several terrified Jewish neighbors of ours were concealed in a river bank near Slobidka in amongst young alder saplings and reeds (with my father’s permission). To fetch them food, I did not go through Lushpivka but through Sheremetivka, across the yard and the vegetable plot of the Kravets family. On my way back I saw a stabbed to death Jewish woman!
When shooting and screaming was over and the gangs left with their loot, the village council would send carts to take the bodies our Jewish neighbors to the Jewish cemetery.
They were loaded onto carts like timber, limbs hanging down, split heads swinging over the edge – the horror will stay with me forever! There was nothing left of that joyful, well off little shtetl of Germanovka, it all went to ruin. This is when Germanovka started to decline.
Witness statement by Iona Mordkov Berchenko about pogrom on August 28th, 1919:
A town is located 50 miles from Kiev near Vasilkov. Jewish population is 250 families, it is about 800 people.
I can report on the last pogrom in Germanovka only from the words of others, because personally I wasn’t in Germanovka at the time of the pogrom.
On the 28th of August the gang under the lead of Dyakov stormed our town. The latter gathered all local peasants immediately and gave a speech, of which I know nothing but I assume it had some sort of a call for pogrom because as people say, at the end of his speech he suggested that his gang members “take a walk along the town.” They went from house to house with their sabers out and slaughtered all men and women indiscriminately and even little children. In many cases they raped women and then killed them. The bandits cut heads off many victims. The massacre lasted for four days. They counted up to 120-150 murdered. Some Jewish houses were burnt down.
The Petlura troops passing through our town before that did not touch anybody.
I have to mention here the attitude of local peasants to the events. First, they attempted to stand up for the Jews. Some of them offered refuge to the Jews they knew at their own households. The bandits threatened them with murder if they continued to defend the Jews. This had the effect and they started to refuse their protection. Several days after the gang had left, the regular troops of the Volunteer Army entered the town. The Jewish population is still being terrorized. Beatings and looting continue. It is reported that a Jewish young man called Patlakh has been killed.
All remaining Jews sought refuge wherever they could. Very few of them remained in town. The situation is desperate. They are not allowed to leave the town. The peasants are afraid to offer them shelter so that not to suffer themselves. Some of the peasants who had taken Jews in their houses had been looted by the bandits. It is risky to go outside. The soldiers beat all Jews they meet. The soldiers wander around Jewish households, dig out gardens and smash up walls and stoves looking for money and jewelry. Sad, exhausted wretches have nowhere to go; they hide in the woods and the fields without food or shelter, haunting the town outskirts like living shadows. They are destined to starve to death unless they receive some help from the outside.
After the Civil War
Practically of all Hermanivka’s Jewish community members who survived the pogroms departed in 1920. In 1926, 26 Jews remained in the village.
In 1928, Germanovka became part of Obukhiv district and continues to exist as just an ordinary village, falling into further decline with each passing year.
There is no details about Holocaust in Germanovka. In WWII memory book of Kiev oblast was find only one Jewish name from Germanovka: blacksmith David Isaakovich Gezberg was killed near Tripolie in July 1, 1943.
After the War
Few Jews returned to Germanovka after the WWII. In 2016, there were lived only few fully assimilated descendants of last local Jews…
Pogrom on August 28th
Old Jewish Cemetery
Cemetery site locates in eastern edge of the village on Shevchenko street, in an area known as “Lushpivky”. The cemetery site is situated behind the house at no. 4 and is now a vegetable garden.
Site of old Jewish cemetery
The Jewish community of Hermanivka owned two cemeteries. The older one, established in 1849, was situated on the territory of A. N. Shafarenko’s farmstead. The chevra kadisha building was located close by (on the site of the present garage), as was a prayer house. According Mr. Shafarenko, the cemetery was very beautiful and well-kept, and was separated into sections. This cemetery was dissolved in 1900 and a new cemetery was established on adjacent farmland now owned by Nikolay Todosevich Sidorenko, separated from the old cemetery by a hill.
Two last gravestones of old Jewish cemetery
The cemetery land was given to A. Shafarenko’s grandfather and was turned into a vegetable garden. Six tombstones that were too heavy for removal remain at the site; two granite tablet-shaped stones dated 1910 and 1917 are still visible and are cordoned off, while the remaining four, two ‘boot’-shaped and two ‘trees of life’, are supposedly buried in the vegetable garden. Inscriptions are carved into the stone (inscribed) in Hebrew.
The only legible tombstone inscription reads as follows:
בנציון בר מרדכי
ציפורים נ’ כח
טבת שנת ת’ר’ע’
Reb Baruch Bentsion,
Son of Reb Mordehay Tsiporim. Died on 28 Tevet 5670.
May his soul be bound in the bond of life.
פייגה בת יעקב
נפ’ א’ ניסן ת’ר’ע’ז’ תנצבה
Feyga, daughter of Yaakov, Yampolskaya.
Died on 1 Nisan 5677.
May her soul be tied in the knot of life.
The cemetery is not demarcated, although the remains of a wall and a ditch give an indication of the boundaries. The 2 remaining visible tombstones, which are located in front of the house at no. 4, are cordoned off. There is currently no sign or plaque identifying the site. The permission of the owner of the land has been secured to erect one. The site is surrounded by private buildings and vegetable gardens.
Information was taken from Lo-Tishkah website.
New Jewish cemetery and mass grave
The unmarked mass grave is located on the eastern edge of the village on Shevchenko St. on site of former New Jewish cemetery. It is now used as a garden and an allotment.
Monument to pogrom victims near the site of New Jewish cemetery
The mass grave is undemarcated. It is located within a Jewish cemetery of which little visible trace remains; part of a wall and a ditch give an indication of the boundaries. There is currently no sign or plaque identifying the site, although the permission of the owner of the land has been secured to erect one. The site is surrounded by private buildings and vegetable gardens.
According to local residents, the 200 victims of a September 1919 pogrom led by Ataman Dyakov were buried here
Exact mass grave location:
Monument to pogrom victims:
Information was taken from Lo-Tishkah website.
According to the lists of Kiev region Duma electors in 1907, 40 Jewish Germanovka residents were registered; their property was evaluated as being worth 300 roubles and above.
BARATS Moshko Ios’ev
BORCHENKO Khaim Iojna Mordkovich
BRISKMAN Duvid Khaimov
BRISKMAN Ios’-Gersh Duvidov
BROJDA Shulim Gershkov
BRONFON Khaskel’ Srulevich
VOL’FMAN Ajzik Froimov
VOROB’EV Gersh Mordkov
ZHITOMIRSKIJ Berko Moshkov
ZHITOMIRSKIJ Moshko Berkov
ITKIS El Meerov
KAGANOVSKI Yankel Peisakhov
KANARSKY Trofim Ivanov
KISELENKO Leivi Azrilev
KOVLER Zelman Ovseiev
KOVNER Aron Berkov
KOZLOV Aron Yankel Shimkov
KOPPOLOVSKI Aron Aabov
KRAVCHENKO Ivan Dmitriev
KRAVCHENKO Nukhim Yankelev
LASKAVY Srul Shlemovich
LEIVICH Benyumin Duvidov
LISHCHINSKI Aron Mordkovich
MITINSKI Bentsion Itskov
MORDERER Avrum Meyerov
MORDERER Duvid Meyerov
OCHAKOVSKY Avrum Srulevich
OCHAKOVSKY Leyba Avrumovich
PATLAKH Aron Shmulev
PATLAKH Mordko Jukhimov
PATLAKH Fishel Shmulev
PINSKY Itsko Shayev
PIYEVSKY Moshko Azrilev
POKOTILO Meyer Khaimov
ROGOVOY Volko Khaimov
SPIVAK Nakhman Berkov
SPIVAK Yankel Ayzikovich
TARNOURSKII Srul Fishelev
TAFOPOL’SKII Borukh’ Mordko Yos’ev
KHANYURA Srul’ Vol’kov
Local historian Shafarenko find this list of Germanovka Jewish inhabitans in Kiev Archiv. It conaines 866 names. List dated back by Summer 1919 which was a few weeks before bloody pogrom.