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Kamenka

Kamenka
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Kamenka is a town in the Cherkassy region with the population of 11,978 (2016).

Before the 1917 revolution, Kamenka was a shtetl of Chigirin uyezd, Kiev guberniya.

No much information was available about Kamenka’s Jewish history in the XIX – early XX century.

In the early XX century, there was one synagogue and a prayer house in the town. During pogroms, the synagogue and the Jewish amateur theatre were destroyed.

Kamenka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Kamenka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913. Page 1

Kamenka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913. Page 2

Kamenka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913. Page 2

In 1919, it has about six thousand inhabitants; about 540 Jewish families. The pogrom was perpetrated by the Grigorievists in the middle of May, approximately May 14-20. There were 76 Jews killed (62 men and 14 women).
In the early 1920s, a Jewish self-defense unit, 25 people strong, was formed

Old PreRevolution building in Kamenka

Old PreRevolution building in Kamenka

The Ukrainians and the Jews formed two major ethnic groups living in Kamenka. The records show 305 Jewish inhabitants of the town. They were engaged in crafts, pottery, cattle trade and general sales. A lot of them had their own shops, were employed by the local match-producing and ball-bearing factories.

In 1939, 618 Jews (7.92%) lived in Kamenka, with 737 Jews in total in the surrounding area.

Jewish population of Kamenka:
1764 – 16 Jews
1847 – 1663 Jews
1897 – 2193 (34%)
1939 – 618 (8%)
2017 ~ 20

Kamenka was occupied by the German Army on August 5, 1941. Only some Jews managed to escape with an evacuation campaign to the East. All men subject for military duty were called up or joined the Red Army as volunteers. Approximately 60% of the pre-war Jewish population remained on the occupied territories.
Soon after the occupation, the German Commandant’s office forced all Jews to be registered. They were required to wear an armband with the Star of David on their sleeve. They were sent to do hard labour such as mending roads and buildings. The chief accountant of the ball-bearing plant Solomon Tashlitskiy suffered torture and then was thrown into the well in the yard of the local police office. Iosif Kerosinskiy was crucified while still alive. All Jewish houses were mostly destroyed. There was a stable, warehouses, and other buildings.

In late December 1941, a ghetto was set up. The inmates used to clear snow from the railway tracks at the local station and load grain which was sent to Germany. This was how they were able to bring some grain into the ghetto. The Jews were not allowed to leave the ghetto or to buy produce from the Ukrainians. As a result, the inmates starved. The ghetto was being destroyed gradually during several actions in February – March 1942, when the Ukrainian police collaborators shot over 400 Jews. In early March 1942, in the cellar of the Ukrainian police station over 100 Jews were shot. They were locked in the stable and led to the place of execution in small groups. The head of the prison Gladkikh was in charge of the execution. Only one 16-year-old boy Nukhim Vereshchatskiy escaped from the killings.

Holocaust mass grave in Kamenka

Holocaust mass grave in Kamenka

Kamenka was liberated on January 9, 1944. In the 1960s, two local police collaborators Tsvirkun and Zhilenko, who had taken part in the actions, were given prison sentences.

Over 2,000 Kamenka citizens fought at the front, with over a quarter, who never made it back to the banks of their river Tiasmin. Among them, there were local Jews: David Grintsevskiy, Yevgeniy Brikhalin, Yefim Barnasus, Avraam Gritsevskiy, Vladimir Pikovskiy, Moisey Gritsevskiy, Gidal Kniazhinskiy, Yevgeniy Mogelnitskiy, Yelizar Muzh, Yutnia Ostrovskiy, Naum Portianskiy, Ilya Rubashevskiy, Mikhail Skliar, Shlema Tashlitskiy, Yakov Trigubov, Grigoriy Khodorkovskiy, Isaak Khodorkovskiy, Izrail Pirulnik, and many others.

Police station during the WWII

Police station during the WWII

Gershko Portianskiy with his wife and two children were hidden by the locals in a nearby village. The names of the people who saved them are not known.

Naum Vereshatskiy (in the middle) with local Ukrainians who saved him during the WWII, 1990's

Naum Vereshatskiy (in the middle) with local Ukrainians who saved him during the WWII, 1990’s

Zosia Yablunovskaya, Liuba Raygorodskaya survived the war in the occupied territories. The struggles they had to endure are unimaginable.

Different memories about Holocaust in Kamenka (in Russian):

After the war, the Jews who had been evacuated or hidden by the locals started to come back to their homes.
Among them were families of Fidel, Fleyshman, Gladkov, Portianskiy, Tashlitskiy, Gimelfarb, Vernik.

In 1996, a Jewish community was registered, headed by Grigoriy Tashlitskiy ( – 2009) and then by Alexandr Delnik ( – 2017). Since 2017, Anatoliy Vernik has been in charge.
The memorial to the “Victims of Fascism” was erected in Kamenka in 1997 on a very symbolic place, funded by the Jewish community and the local authorities. There are no memorial plaques on the sites of mass shootings.

Jewish cemetery

In 2003, a metal fence around the Jewish cemetery was installed with the help of Vadim Rabinovich.

Gravestone of Mark Vereshatskiy with the faces of killed family members

Gravestone of Mark Vereshatskiy with the faces of killed family members

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