Mena (Polish), Myena (German), Мена (Ukrainian), Мена – Mena (Russian)
Mena is a historic town located in Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, center of Mena district. The city’s estimated population is 12,900 (as of 2005).
Mena became a part of Russia Empire in 1667, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was center of Mena Yezd of Chernigov Gubernia.
Records from the early 19th century describe the general population in Mena at around 6,000 people. The Jewish population of this time is not mentioned but reference is made to the existence of a synagogue and another Jewish house of worship. According to the 1897 census, 6,277 people lived in Mena, more than a quarter of whom were Jews.
The main activities of the Jewish population in the 19th and early 20th centuries were in trade and crafts. In 1902, the rabbi in Mena was Itshok- Isaac Lurvin (1865 -?) and in 1904-06, Shneur-Zalman Ginzburg (1876 -?).
The business directory of 1903 lists few names of Jewish entrepreneurs from Mena:
Bank: Elyashberg Evsey Vulf.
Factory: Zak Mordehai Girsh.
Drugstore: Lihterman Yacob Mordk.
Grocery stores: Gelberg Yankel Kalm., Levyant Nahim Leib.,
Tin: Gordinova Minya Zalm., Rahmilevich Simha Hatzk.,
Haberdashery: Narinskiy Manya Mois.,
Fish and kerosine: Ratnet Sim. Evs.
Tobacco: Ufa Moses Leib., Futer Mord. Dav.,Shtein Isaak Shloim., Goldshtein Ezra Aaron., Elyashberg Evsey Vulf.
Grain: Faitelson Lipm. Yank.
Jewish population of Mena:
1897 – 1659(26,4%)
1923 – 1475
1926 – 1321 (18,2%)
1939 – 586
2014 ~ 20
In 1914, the Jews owned a pharmaceutical warehouse, an inn, 31 stores, including all four of the town’s groceries, all five of the manufacturing shops and both tanneries.
In 1925, natives of Mena founded Jewish agricultural collectives in the Kherson region; “Put’ Ilyicha” (the Path of Lenin) with 87 colonists, and “Arbeth” with 73. In the 1920’s, the rabbi in the town was Yisroel Medvedev.
There were 1,321 Jews (18,2%) living in Mena in 1926.
According to the 1939 census 586 Jews lived in Mena and the surrounding region. Small communities were existed in villages Berezna , Blistova and Makoshino.
Before WWII the gabay was Oges Yakov Aronovich , Rabbi – Shmul(was killed by the Nazis).
Monument on the territory of the monastery in village Dominitsy of Menskiy district where were shot 34 children from the local orphanage.
At the war’s outbreak, many Jewish families found a way to evacuate to the east of the country. The main evacuation routes were railroads and water transport by the river Desna towards Bryansk. Those who remained in the city either had not been able to take a long journey or had been convinced of the “civilized” behavior of German soldiers. Nazi occupied Mena in Septembber 8, 1941.
On October 15, 1941, the Nazi units and local policemen shot 124 Jews (according to other sources, 31 Jews) at the local Jewish cemetery. The mass killing continued throughout November and December.
On November 29, 1941 near railway bridge on the Desna River in Makoshino 50 local Jews were killed.
On December 15, 1941 on the territory of the monastery in village Dominitsy of Menskiy district The Germans shot and killed 34 children from the local orphanage. Among the dead were five Jewish boys and girls.
On December 20, 1941 in Mena all Jews of the village of Blistavy were executed.
The last mass shooting that occurred in Mena was held February 2, 1942 in an open field near the road to the village, Kukuvichi.
Almost two years later, the Germans found the local school teacher, Halyavko Seraphima, and shot her in the village of Berezna with her three children, aged 3 to 8.
Monument in the Makoshino school’s yard where in February 7, 1943 were killed 28 people, among them were 9 last local Jews
Of the dead we know the names of only 198 Jewish civilians who were killed in Mena’s Jewish cemetery, 45 of the names of Jews killed in Makoshino, 36 of Berezna, and 25 names of Jews which were killed in other locations. Altogether this accounts for only 30% of the total victims. 106 Jewish soldiers from Mena were killed at the front.
You can find these lists here (in Russian). In Mena Jews compose 88% of all killed civilians during WWII, Makoshino – 40%.
After the war many Jews returned from Red Army and evacuation. Old Jews continue to follow religious rules. Gabay was Aaron Gilyevich Lifshitz, shochet was Mones Tzaddik Dershteyn.
. Jewish Community was officialy registered in 1995-1996 in only. First chairman was Vladimir Berman. Now Head of cCommunity is Ludmila Pavlovna Berman.
Famous Jews from Mena
Hava Vladimirovna Volovich (1916–2000), was a Russian writer, actress, director and a Gulag survivor. Hava Volovich is known for her Memoirs, that are extremely valuable both historically and literary. Her notes from the prison-camp are being compared to Shalamov’s stories and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anna Frank.
Abram Davidovich Agranovskii (1896-1951), journalist.
Gersh Ezrovich Goldstein (1886-1938, Kazan), statesman, one of the OZET leader,
Moses Zevi (1909-?), ophthalmologist, MD, from 1921 – in Finland, author of scientific researches in ophthalmology.
Holocaust mass grave
In Mena located 2 Holocaust burial:
– on the local Jewish cemetery
– near the road to village Kukovichi
On this place in December 20, 1941 were killed Jews of village Blistava (20 persons). Also on this place in February 2, 1942 were killed last Jews of Mena (about 50 people)
The cemetery is located along Shevchenko Street, near house № 47, there is a turn towards 8th of March Street. Half of the fence is made of iron, the rest is wooden. There is located one grave of Civil war pogrom victim.