Krasnoe is a historic village located in Tyvrov district of Vinnitsya region. Krasnoe is located on the Krasnyanka River, a tributary of the Southern Bug. The village’s estimated population is 1,110 (as of 2001).
Krasnoe became a part of Russia Empire in 1793, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was shtetl of Yampol Yezd of Podolia Gubernia.
The Jewish community was first mentioned in the town of Krasnoe in 1605. The area where Krasnoe Jews settled was the older part of the town. During Khmelnytsky Uprising (the Cossack-Polish insurgency in 1648-1654 under the command of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky) the Jewish population in Krasnoe was completely decimated by Khmelnytsky’s Cossack military units.
Some celebration in the main market square of Krasnoe in 1923
In the first half of the XVIII century, when a revival of the Jewish communities began in Bratslav area, Jewish colonists migrated from different areas to revive the community of Krasnoe. They gradually re-populated the center of the old town. Overcrowded, densely built dwellings of local Jews encircled the market square. The houses were built out of local timber and stone, with storage and workshop space on the ground and basement level. What was interesting is that the basements of the houses located on main trade streets were quite spacious and joined by means of underground passages. Some of these passages formed ‘underground streets’ leading into the remains of the old castle basements. Some houses had terraces where the owners could enjoy the sunshine on fine days. All houses had spacious Italianate or gable tiled roofs with an ornate fron door and a side service entrance.
In 1784 560 Jews lived in Krasnoe, including 323 residing in the town proper and the Jews from 30 surrounding villages, associated with the local Jewish community. Three years later this number went up to 596 Jews, with 328 living in Krasnoe.
Jewish population of Krasnoe:
1784 – 560 jews
1847 – 1747 jews
1897 – 2599 (91%)
1924 – 1,433 (99%)
2010 – 4 jews
In 1793 the town of Krasnoe and the surrounding area became part of the Russian Empire (1791 – 1917), forming a pale of Jewish settlement beyond which, under various tsar decrees, the Jews were prohibited to live; however, the day-to-day life of the community changed little.
The Jewish population in Krasnoe was growing fast, with 1,747 Jews recorded in 1847, according to the town archives. 49 years later this number went up to 2,599 Jews out of 2,844 residents of Krasnoe. There was a synagogue and a heder as well as four prayer houses which appeared in 1888. The same year the town was granted the privilege to hold own fairs, 26 per year. There were 60 Jewish shops and 140 craftsmen working in the town.
In 1880’s the Haskalah movement reached Krasnoe and the surrounding villages, most probably brought by a bookseller called Pinkhas. On market days, twice a week, he visited Shpykov’s place bringing the short stories by Shomer (Nakhum Meir Shaikevych), “A Boy from Poland” by Izkhac Ioel. Linetsky , the novels by Issac Mayer Dick alongside with religious books, ritual items, little things for children and various copper and brass trinkets. He loaned the books out to read under the condition that he would pick them up when he comes back. These books were mostly for women and children, but even some men, who were supposed to read only religious books, were discovering a ‘great world’ while reading the popular fiction delivered by Pinkhas.
Krasnoe entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913
In the beginning of the XX century Krasnoe had a state rabbi called Khaim-Ios’ Leizerovych Lidinzon. It was an official appointment approved by the government. A state rabbi represented Jewish communities in the state system and was responsible for the registration of marriages, births and deaths in the community.
The town administration in Krasnoe first headed by starosta [a settlement governor, an elected leader of a community in provincial areas of Russian Empire], called Doin Gamil’ Nus’-Zelmanovych (1904), then by Alter-El’ Mishpotman (1908). In 1908 Krasnoe town had its own Talmud Torah, a religious primary school for boys of lower class backgrounds.
Сivil War pogroms
The Jews suffered greatly from persecution during the Russian Civil War in Ukraine (1917-1922).
Between the wars
Jewish houses and shops looted and destroyed were rebuilt as well as schools and cultural venues. Numerous small trade workshops were founded with 112 small-scale producers working there: 59 shoe makers, 33 tailors, 15 tanners, 2 hoopers, 3 tinsmiths, as recorded in 1921.
There were two Jewish clubs in Krasnoe town: “Yevdrama (Jewish Drama)”, an amateur drama club, and “Kadima”, a self-education club. However, the official Soviet policy aimed to gradually erode Jewish national heritage. Many capable artisans lost their jobs forcing them alongside with other Jews to leave the province and move to bigger cities.
Former market square of Krasnoe in 2015. Photograph by myshtetl.org
In the mid-1920s a Krasnoe section of the youth organization “Hehalutz”, a Jewish youth movement, trained young people in working on land in order to re-settle in Israel.
An orphanage for 30 Jewish boys and girls, whose parents were murdered during the civil war, was opened in Krasnoe in 1922. The Jewish school in the town was founded in 1918. The pupils were taught in Yiddish but the Soviet policy was to liquidate the Yiddish-based educational system and the school in Krasnoe was closed in 1938.
In 1924 the population of Krasnoe was 1,446, where 1,433 were Jewish, making it the only town in Podilska guberniya almost totally Jewish. A I Shoibman worked as an inspection officer of the public education department in Krasnyansky raion (an administrative unit) in 1923-1924. In the same 1924 there was a Jewish organization to eradicate illiteracy and a reading hall.
By the end of 1920s there was a Jewish collective farm “Der Shtern” (“Star” in Yiddish), headed by O M Prylutsky.
A Jewish town committee was founded in Krasnoe in 1925, later it was converted into the Jewish rural (village) council which existed until 1939.
The peaceful life of the Jewish community came to an end with the start of the war. Great unrest and anxiety spread among the Krasnoe Jews.
The Romanians, on the other hand, did not carry out mass executions. They implemented the “final solution to the Jewish question” in a different way. One autumn day all Jews living in the village were gathered again in the market square where the local Romanian authorities announced that a Jewish ghetto was to be found in Krasnoe. It was officially announced that the new rules were going to be introduced. Those who did not obey were threatened with arrest and shooting. Head of Judenrat became Nuhim Kohan.
Opening of memorial on the place of Jewish ghetto in 2015.
The village center was turned into a ghetto where all Krasnoe Jews had to resettle, with its own governor and his assistant selected from the ghetto residents. Later on only the craftsmen with their families stayed in the ghetto, while the rest of the Jews were taken to Tyvriv, a small town. By the time they were brought there, the execution of the Jewish population had already started in Tyvriv.
The number of the innocent people killed by the occupying army was 329 by 1 November. It was the time of terrible uncertainty and savage inhuman exploitation. People got used to constant fear of being killed. The Romanian governor of Krasnoe found out that the German commandant in Tyvriv was preparing to exterminate all Jews from the village. Alongside with the settlement governor, he did his best to overturn the execution. They reached the agreement that the Krasnoe Jews would go back to their village one by one or in groups.
The occupants used Transnistria Governorate, as the area allocated for the Jewish deportees from Bessarabia, Bukovyna and Nothern Moldova. Some of those Jews arrived to the ghetto in Krasnoe which had already been overcrowded. The deportees were different from the local Jews in every possible way, the way they looked and behaved, they were mostly very poor and uneducated. Almost every morning the ghetto residents wearing yellow arm bands were marched in columns to perform road repair works or work in the fields, to dig ditches and also to the Gnivan’ granite quarry, forced to work in any weather.
By spring 1942 some Jews were taken to the concentration camp in Skazyntsi where the prisoners from Mohyliv-Podil’sky and the surrounding villages were held. After the camp had been disbanded, the Jews from Krasnoe who survived together with some other inmates went back to their village. By 1 September 1943 the number of Jews returned to the ghetto of Krasnoe village was 282.
The local residents sympathized with the fate of the Jews and did everything they could to support them. Once the residents of the ghetto were threatened, local Ukrainians and Poles immediately offered them shelter.
The following is the memories of J. S. Rakhman, where he recalls the period when he escaped from the camp in Trykhaty.
“…..we walked from Zhmerinka to Kachanivka village, the one located near Krasnoe village where my father was. “Weak and exhausted, I was given shelter by an old local woman who gave me some borsch and a loaf of bread. Then my father and I moved to the nearest Shvachivka village where another woman, called Antosiya Lipa, a Polish one, hid us in her house. I remember her to be a wonderful selfless woman who had two sons, Martsyn and Vladziya. I became her third son doing my best in helping her around the house”.
Although life was quite hard for the Jews living in Krasnoe, it was calm and quiet compared to the life in the areas occupied by the Germans. The Romanians even allowed for a synagogue to re-open. It often happened that the Jews escaped from the areas under the Nazi control found shelter in the ghetto of Krasnoe. When the arrests of the local partisans in Vinnytsya region started, one of the partisans called Valentyna Rudnytska, was hiding in the ghetto of Krasnoe. She was directed there by F M Gulyanytsky, professor of the Vinnitsya medical institute and the head of a local partisan organization of medical care workers. A Jew called Mykhailo Glikman actively supported the local partisan organization in Krasnoe.
In 1943 the Nazis in Krasnoe shot Borys Khaimovych Bogomolny for his links with the partisans. His nephew Igor Kogan, present day Head of all-Ukrainian association of Jewish prisoners of ghettos and the Nazi concentration camps, wrote about this in his book “Zhyvymi ostalis’ tolko my” (“There were only us who survived”), published in Kiev, 1999:
“My uncle, my mother’s brother called B.Kh.Bogomolny was a tall and very handsome man. My mum was always asking him to cover up and stay in but he would not listen. He did not know that all his family had been already shot in Babi Yar. I always loved to fall asleep lying next to him in bed. One night I woke up and saw a German soldier standing near our bed, and another one by the window. My uncle realized that they came to take him away. He said goodbye to us. The soldiers took him outside the village and ordered him to run. He started running but he was shot down. My grandfather was not allowed to bury my uncle but he did not obey and buried his son”.
There were the other members of the Jewish community executed alongside with B.Kh. Bogomolny. Their names are mentioned in the Book of Sorrow of Ukraine, Vinnytska region, part 2, 2002:
Beibel Moniya Favelyovych, born in Voroshylivka village in 1916 and killed in the ghetto of Krasnoe;
Gitis Berl Lypovych, born in 1886, a Jew, was executed by the enemies in 1942 and buried in Krasnoe village;
Gitis Meila, born in 1905, a Jew, was executed by the enemies in 1942 and buried in Krasnoe village;
Zeifman Betzion Gedaliyovych, born in Krasnoe in 1888, a Jew, was executed by the enemies in 1941;
Zeifman Betiya Moiseivna, born in 1912, a Jew, who lived in Krasnoe and worked as an accountant. She and her child were killed in the concentration camps and buried in Pechera village.
As some long-term inhabitants recalled, when the Red Army military units were retreating in July 1941, a local sales man called A.I. Pyrogivsky was shot dead.
On 17 March 1944 Krasnoe village was liberated from German occupation.
After the war the life of the Krasnoe Jewish community changed drastically. More and more Jews were leaving for the cities and on to other countries. In 1948 the Jewish collective farm “Der Shtern” was closed because of the shortage of labor.
The town was gradually losing its fame of being called “Odessa Minor”, recalls Yiosyp Davydovych Livak, one of the last Jews living in Krasnoe.
Nowadays only four Jews remain in the village. Most locals had lots of good things to say about the Jews they had been living alongside with for many years.
The area of traditional Jewish houses lost its medieval character a long time ago.
There are only few Jewish houses left since the time of the shtetl:
– a former tailoring studio which belonged to Yakiv Shtut, a furrier
– a derelict building which used to be owned by Gedelman, a railway worker, where there was a maternity clinic
– a traditional Jewish house with a terrace and a basement where a Ukrainian family currently lives
– a partially rebuilt house next to the local secondary school. In the middle of the former market place there is another derelict two-story brick building, which used to belong to a wealthy Jewish merchant.
Last Jewish house on former market square. Photograph by myshtetl.org in 2015
Cemetery located in the south-east outskirts of the town in the area of “Shvachivka” on the left side of the road to the village of Nove Misto.
Photos were taken from myshtetl.org