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Husiatyn

Husiatyn
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Gusiatyn, Gusatin, Usiatyn, Gusyatin (Russian), Husiatin (Yiddish), Husiatyń (Polish), Гусятин – Gusiatin (Russian), Гусятин – Husiatyn (Ukrainian).

Most information was taked from Jewishgen website.

Husiatyn is a town in the Ternopil Oblast of Western Ukraine. Husiatyn is the administrative center of the Husiatyn Raion (district), and is located on the west bank of the Zbruch River. This river formed the old boundary between Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire (1792-1918) and between Poland and the Soviet Union during the inter-war period of the twentieth century.

Beginning

The history of the Jewish community in Gusyatin spans more than 500 years from its early origins as a farm in the sixteenth century. The community reached its peak in the late 1800s, when Gusyatin was both a thriving commercial center and one of the most important Hassidic centers in Galicia. Sadly, the golden age did not last for long. Gusyatin was heavily damaged during World War I, then destroyed during World War II.

Husyatin, 1880's. Picture by Napoleon Orda. Photo taken from <a href="http://risu.org.ua/ua/relig_tourism">relig_tourism</a>

Husyatin, 1880’s. Picture by Napoleon Orda. Photo taken from relig_tourism

Violet circle – Old Synagogue which is standing near ruins of catle and obviously formed a common defence object
Green circle – Castle gate
Red circle – remains of castle’s wall
Mordehai Fridman baught ruins of Husyatin castle’s in 1870’s and build his palace (Blue circle)

Jews were among the first to settle in Gusyatin after its incorporation as a town in 1559. There are records of a synagogue in Gusyatin by the start of the seventeenth century. The community was small and vulnerable, however, and suffered from anti-semitic activity. In 1623, three Jewish farmers, brothers, were accused of murdering Christian children; they were prosecuted, tortured and burnt at the stake. Cossacks conquered the town in 1648, although not much is known of the fate of the town’s Jews at that time.

Rabbi House. Destroyed during WWI

Rabbi House. Destroyed during WWI

The Jewish community revived and began to prosper from 1680 through 1699, when Turkey conquered and ruled Galicia. By the end of the seventeenth century, the Jewish community had built a beautiful new synagogue. The building of the new synagogue was challenged in court by Bishop Sharkovski of Kamenetz-Podolski, who claimed that the synagogue should not have been built without his approval. In 1729, the local nobility, the Pototzki family, intervened to dismiss the court suit in order to protect the Jews that lived on their land. The Jewish community grew modestly under Polish rule in the first half of the eighteenth century, reaching 1,208 by 1765.

Husyatin in 1930's. Photo from Jewishgen website

Husyatin in 1930’s. Photo from Jewishgen website

In 1772, Gusyatin was divided into two sections when Poland was partitioned between Austria and Russia. Most of the Jewish community lived in developed areas west of the Zabrotz River, ruled by Austria, although some Jews lived in the smaller portion of the town east of the river, ruled by Russia. As a border town, Gusyatin became an important path for trade between Austria and Russia, and merchants came from surrounding areas to trade in fairs in the town. At this time, most of the Jews in Husyatin were craftsmen or wholesale merchants. Many sold or shipped grain and lumber to Russia.

Yisroel Friedman (1858-1949) 2nd Rebbe of Husiatyn

Yisroel Friedman (1858-1949) 2nd Rebbe of Husiatyn

Hassidim in Gusyatin

In the 1800s, Hassidim began to move to Gusyatin, including followers of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav. The Hassidic population growth sharply after Rabbi Mordecai Shraga-Bar, son of Rabbi Israel of Rozhin, established a Hassidic Court in Gusyatin in 1861. Hundreds of Hassidim moved to Gusyatin to be near the rebbe, fueling the rise of a local hospitality industry. Rabbi Mordecai befriended the local nobility, the Marquis Golokhovski, and the whole area prospered. An elegant study house was built for the rebbe on the grounds of a partially ruined castle. New synagogues were built, as were ritual baths, hospitals and old age homes. The town supported new industries, including a Jewish-owned factory to make fountain pen nibs, print shops and paper merchants, as well as doctors, lawyers and other professionals. The town was hurt by a major cholera epidemic in 1870, but growth resumed with the opening of the railroad connection to Stanislavov in 1882 and the influx of refugees from Russia at that time. The turn of the century was the golden age for Gusyatin, with Jews comprising 4197 of the town’s 6060 residents in 1890. Hassidism thrived. Zionist groups were started, including Bnai Zion and a Theodore Herzl group. A Toynbee-Hala club was established to present popular lectures on Saturday evenings. An organization called Dorshei Sefat Yeshanim was founded to republish rare manuscripts. Modern services came to the town, including banks, electricity and a new sewage system.

In XX century

The town’s growth was haunted by the prospects of war between Austria and Russia. The flow of refugees increased, especially in 1903-1906. Crossing the border became more difficult. Fearing the war, Gusyatin residents also began to emigrate. By 1914, the Hassidic Rebbe of that time, Rabbi Israel, moved to Vienna and closed the Hassidic Court, putting an end to the golden age.

Husyatin in 1930′s. Photo from Jewishgen website

Husyatin in 1930′s. Photo from Jewishgen website

On August 9, 1914, the Russian Army crossed the Zabrotz River and attacked Austria through Gusyatin. Fires in the town destroyed more than 600 buildings. The Jews dispersed among neighboring towns and villages to avoid the oncoming armies. Many died from typhus as local conditions deteriorated. Jews were ordered out of Gusyatin in on June 13, 1915, but many made their way back into the town. When the Russian Army retreated in 1916, the remaining Jews were ordered into exile again, this time to the Kiev district of Russia. Raids from peasant gangs plagued the few Jews that returned to the town after the war in 1918 to 1919. Then the Bolsheviks came to power and confiscated property from Jewish-owned businesses. By 1921, the Jewish population had declined to 368, less than 10 percent of the peak population in 1890.

Child event in Husyatin at 1938. 27 childrens among 122 are Jews. From sztetl.org.pl

Child event in Husyatin at 1938. 27 childrens among 122 are Jews. From sztetl.org.pl

The Jewish community of Gusyatin never recovered from World War I. The town continued to be divided by an international border, this time between Poland and Russia. All commerce with Russia was stopped by travel restrictions. The Hassidim center was closed. The electric lighting system was not repaired. Yet, some Jewish life continued despite the decline. A rabbi was hired (Rabbi Jacob Ringel). A Hebrew school continued to operate. The ritual bath was repaired. Gusyatin was the home of several active Zionist groups, including Hitachdut (Labor Party), Mizrachi, and Revisionists. And although contact between the Polish and Russian portions of the community was prohibited, each Rosh Hashanah, the Jews of Polish Gusyatin and Russian Husiatyn would go to the banks of the Zbruch River for the Tashlich prayer, the only time during the year when they were allowed to see and speak with each other.

In 1920’s there was Jewish Library with 280 Hebrew books, 73 visitors were registered there in 1931 there lived 388 Jews.

Right-bank part of Husyatin became a part of Soviet Union in 1939.

Monument which was build on left bank of Zbruch and showed "prosperous" life in Soviet Union. Photo taken from <a href="http://risu.org.ua/ua/relig_tourism">relig_tourism</a>

Monument which was build on left bank of Zbruch and showed “prosperous” life in Soviet Union. Photo taken from relig_tourism

Holocaust

On July 6, 1941, Gusyatin was conquered by the German Army. Immediately, the Ukranians began to attack the local Jews.

German forces passing through Husryatin, 1941. Synagogue showed in the right part of photo. Photo taken from <a href="http://risu.org.ua/ua/relig_tourism">relig_tourism</a>

German forces passing through Husryatin, 1941. Synagogue showed in the right part of photo. Photo taken from relig_tourism

At July 6, 1941 local Ukrainians and Germans killed approximately 200 Jews (on Jewish Cemetery, on market square, near synagogue and in cellars for wine).  The community was burdened by forced labor and confiscation of property. Many died of hunger and disease.

Yizkor tombstone to Husiatyn Jews killed by Nazi. Israel

Yizkor tombstone to Husiatyn Jews killed by Nazi. Israel

Finally, in March 1942, the remaining Jews of Gusyatin were rounded up by the Nazis and deported by train to Kofichintza and Provozna, never to return.

Gusyatin was liberated by Red Army at March 24, 1944.

I find only one list of Husyatin Holocaust victims – here.

After WWII

According to memoirs of Titler Rahmil Volfovich (1932-1997) after the WWII in Gusyatin returned some Jews. And he speak with local rabbi in synagogue. All family of Rahmil Titler was killed there during Holocaust – parents and 6 brothers and sisters. He survived because he was among the first Komsomol members in city and evacuate before Nazi occupation.

In 1989 etnographic expedition from Saint-Peterburg visited Gusyatin and at this time there weren’t Jews in city.

In New York Public Library present three Husiatyn Yizkor Books: first , second and third.

Husytain, XXI century. Photo taken from <a href="http://risu.org.ua/ua/relig_tourism">relig_tourism</a>

Husytain, XXI century. Photo taken from relig_tourism

Genealogy

Husiatyn Synagogue

The Husiatyn Synagogue (Festungs-Schule) is a rare example of a sixteenth-century “Fortress synagogue” built in Renaissance style on the place of wooden synagogue.

S. Ansky describes it as “one of the lovliest and most splendid in Galicia.”

Synagogue was rebuilt after a fire in 1742 and almost lost all its distinctive defensive features, New Mauritian-gothic decorations elements appeared in the decoration of facades and interior. In that time was created a school-heder and woman’s hall. During WWII were ruined part of north wall and whole western wall. In 1964 the standing ruin started to renovate and was turned into a museum (1972). It was closed in the 1990-s due to lack of funding. Today, the roof has collapsed and the building stands vacant.

Except this Synagogue in town existed smaller synagogue, 2 Kahal building. As I know these buildings aren’t exist now 🙁  House of Friedman’s Rabbies was destroyed during WWI.

Husiatyn Mass Grave

A ravine behind the halls of residence in Ternopilskaya St., 1. There is no memorial at the site.

Husiatyn Jewish Cemetery

First Jewish cemetery (or 2 cemeteries) was exist in Husyatin in XVII-XVIII centuries probably in north-western district of the city but it is only suppose.

In 1850s in city came a rich jew Fayvish Marcus Friedman. Till 1859 he bought a large portion of land the city and found a Jewish cemetery. It should be noted that Friedman owned almost areas which limited the cemetery. On the most maps of  XIX – beginning of XX century on the cemetery marked a small building and I can suppose that it was Hevra Kadisha.

During the WWII were destroyed historic cemetery fence and all gravestones. Now cemetery area covered by the layer of soil, asphalt and garbage. In the Soviet times this area was not guarded. From the late 40s of last century to the present time the cemetery without gravestones overgrown by bushes on the north and construction took place over the entire area of the former cemetery.

Area of cemetery is ​​approximately 2.6 hectares.
The territory of cemetery covers an area that stretches almost parallel Ternopilska Str. from the southeast to the northwest to a steep slope.

In 2007 were renovated graves of Friedman’s family. They are only object that remain about Jewish past of this area 🙁

Comments

comments

One Comment

  1. Nice article, Vitaly. You do such beautiful work. Everybody is so luck that you are doing this.

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