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Novograd-Volynskiy

Novograd-Volynskiy
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Novograd-Volynskiy, Novogradvolynsk, Novograd-Volynsk (Alternative Name), Zvihil, Zvil, Zvehil, זוויל ,זוועהיל, Zvhil (Yiddish), Новоград-Волинський (Ukrainian), נובוהרד-וולינסקי (Hebrew), Zwiahel (Polish), Новоград-Волынский

 

Novograd-Volynskiy is a historic city located in Zhytomir region, center of Novograd-Volynskiy district.
Novograd-Volynskiy is located on the Sluch River, a tributary of the Goryn. The city’s estimated population is 56,155 (as of 2016).

Before 1925 it was a сenter of Novograd-Volynskiy yezd, Volyn guberniya.

City was mentioned first time in 1257 as Vozvyagel and was renamed to Novograd-Volynskiy after third Poland partition in 1795. Before 1795, city was named Zvyagel.

 

All information for this article was provided by local historian Leonid Kogan (koganzvil@yandex.com) who research Novograd-Volinskiy Jewish history for more than 20 years.

Leonid Kogan show a site of destroyed Old Jewish cemetery in Novograd-Volynskiy, 2016

Leonid Kogan show a site of destroyed Old Jewish cemetery in Novograd-Volynskiy, 2016

Leonid translated into Russian memorial book “Zvil” (Novograd-Volynsk) which was published in Yiddish and in Hebrew in Israel, in 1962. You can download book here.

Beginning

First Jews in Zviagel are mentioned in the document from June 20th 1488; King of Lithuania Kazimir Yagellon informs the local governor Onushko Kalenikovich on taxation on imported goods and a tavern belonging to three Jews from Lutsk in Zviagel.

In 1620, local Jewish people lived near the fortress in Rynkova street, where they owned 7 houses.

Jewish population of Novograd-Volynskiy:
1798 – 564 (28%)
1834 – 3.096 Jews
1897- 9.378 (55%)
1913 – 11.119 (52%)
1922 – 6.063 (47%)
1939 – 6.839 (28%)
1959 – 3.300 (12%)
1979 – 2.274 (4 %)
1989 – 1.648 (2.9%)
2001 – 188 Jews (0.3%)
2016 ~ 60

During the XVIII century, a large Jewish community was established.  According to the census, there were 400 Jews in 1765, 262 in 1784 and 281 in 1787.

In about 1740, a Great synagogue was built in Shkolna street (now Sholom Aleichem str.), which became one of the most beautiful buildings of Zviagel.

Jews called their town “Zvil” in Yiddish and this name was used even after the town was renamed Novograd-Volynskiy. During the XIX century, the Jewish population grew from 3,096 people in 1834 to 9,378 in 1897 and reached on average 50-55% of the total population.

View of Novograd-Volynskiy from the river Sluch in 1814, lithography of John Thomas James

View of Novograd-Volynskiy from the river Sluch in 1814, lithography of John Thomas James

As seen on the 1798 plan of the town, Jewish houses and shops were located in a tight semicircle around the market square (the area of current Lesya Ukrainka square). They, in turn, were surrounded by Christian neighborhoods.

City plan, 1798

City plan, 1798

Jews played a noticeable role in local self-governing bodies. Thus, in 1816 they occupied the posts of one of the two mayors and two of the five council members of the town magistrate. In 1827-1828, the paving of the main street of the town – Koretskaya (now – Shevchenko str.) was funded by the Jewish community. The community representatives also were among the Town Council.

Zhitomirskaya Str. in Novograd-Volynskiy, PreRevolution photo

Zhitomirskaya Str. in Novograd-Volynskiy, around 1910

The main business of the Jewish population was trade and crafts. Grocery trade, textiles, dry goods, fish, kosher meat, wine, furniture, clothing, kitchenware, hardware, timber, books and stationery were sold in hundreds of shops, stalls and kiosks. In 1899, more than 1,500 Jews were engaged in trade and mediation, 116 were day laborers and 157 factory workers. In 1901, there were 1,157 Jewish artisans in the town, or 71.4% of the total number of small artisans. Jews were also prevalent among bakers, butchers, tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, fabrics painters, barbers as well as hatters, glaziers, tinsmiths, tanners, upholsterers, chimney sweeps, bookbinders, goldsmiths and watchmakers. On the northern outskirts of the city (near the brewery) there was a special district of Jewish tanners, who had their own synagogue.

Big synagogue in Novograd-Volynskiy

Great Synagogue in Novograd-Volynskiy, 1929

In the beginning of the XX century such streets as Bolshaya Gutinskaya, Zhitomirskaya, Tamarovskaya, Varshavskaya, Troitskaya, Shkolnaya, NizhniayaMedovaya (or Kuznechnaya), Medovyi lane were populated almost exclusively by Jews. Most Jewish people engaged in minor trade and crafts did not have a stable income and led hand-to-mouth existence.  Due to extreme population density in such Jewish districts as “Nieder” (Nizhniaya Medovaya str.) and “Varshavnia” (Bolshaya and Malaya Varshavskaya streets, Varshavskaya, Troitskaya), their living conditions were terrible. Rich Jews lived quite differently. They were the owners of several tanneries, brick factories, printing houses, inns and hotels, or merchants. In the centre of town at the crossroads of Koretskaya, Gutinskaya and Zhitomorskaya streets, two-storied stone-built houses of Marmer, Shtendel, Berul, Unik, Guralnik, Presman and Chartoriyskiy were easily noticed. The owner of a stagecoach office Unik bought a bus abroad and was the first one in the town who organized a new type of passenger transportations between Novograd-Volynskiy and Zhitomir in 1912.

Novograd-Volynskiy entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 1

Novograd-Volynskiy entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 1

Novograd-Volynskiy entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 2

Novograd-Volynskiy entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 2

Novograd-Volynskiy entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 3

Novograd-Volynskiy entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 3

The majority of Novograd-Volynskiy Jews were Hasidic. The so called Zviagel dynasty of Hasidic rabbis existed here for a long time. Its founder was one of the sons of the famous maggid (preacher) Ichil-Michl from Zolochev – tsaddik Moyshe Goldman (1763-1830).

Reconstructed grave of Moyshe Goldman (1763-1837) on destroyed Jewish cemetery

Reconstructed grave of Moyshe Goldman on destroyed Jewish cemetery

After his death, his son Ichil-Michl Goldman (1788-1854) became the next tzaddic and when the latter passed away, his son Mordche (1824-1900) was the third Zviagel tsaddik.

Graves of Ichil-Michl Goldman (right) and Mordke Goldman (left) in New Jewish cemetery

Graves of Ichil-Michl Goldman (right) and Mordke Goldman (left) in New Jewish cemetery

This line was continued by next tsaddik Shlyomke Goldman (1868-1945). In 1925 he emigrated and settled in Palestine where new generations of Zviagel Hassids emerged. After the World War II his descendants founded Zviagel Yeshiva in the street named after tsaddik Shlyomke Goldman in Jerusalem.

Tsadik Shlyomke Goldman

Tsadik Shlyomke Goldman

In 1889 there was 1 synagogue and 23 Jewish prayer houses in town. The majority of synagogues were located in Shkolnaya street (in the XVIII- first half of the XX centuries they were called “Jewish schools” in Russian/Ukrainian). The Jews called this street “Shil-gas”, i.e. street of synagogues. The names of prayer houses were derived either from professional activity of the parishioners (shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, butchers, tanners), or places, where Hasidic spiritual leaders lived (Chernobylskiy, Makarovskiy, Korostyshevskiy, Turiyskiy, Olykskiy, Stolinskiy). Prayer houses were in the houses of Rabbis Yegoshe, Shlyomke Goldman and his brother Michele. The Synagogue choir was very popular among the citizens (including Christians), it was directed by a khazan (a synagogue cantor). The choir often performed in a civil club at the meetings of noble people. The community maintained Jewish hospital “Bikur Holim” and an almshouse for 30 people, 2 baths, and a Jewish affordable soup kitchen at a night shelter. There were charity organizations helping the poor and the sick, a society helping poor Jewish women in labor and a society supporting poor craftsmen.

Building of former Chernobyl synagogue, 2016. Synagogue was closed in 1929 and turned in pioneer club.

Building of former Chernobyl synagogue, 2016. Synagogue was closed in 1929 and turned in pioneer club.

In the beginning of the 1850’s, a new Jewish cemetery was opened.

In the XIX century, the main form of teaching Jewish children (boys by 13 years old) was a primary religious school, heder; in 1850, there were 22 heders in the town. Teenagers and young boys were improving their knowledge of the Torah and Talmud in bes-medreshes – prayer houses, where they studied religious literature on their own or with the help of mentors when they had free time.

In 1896, a religious school Talmud-Torah was opened (in 1899 there were 130 students) and in 1901 yeshiva “Or-Torah” was founded, about 300 students studied there for several years.

Rabbi Ioel Sorin, Head of Novograd-Volynskiy litvish yeshiva "Or-Torah" in 1901-1920

Rabbi Ioel Sorin, Head of Novograd-Volynskiy litvish yeshiva “Or-Torah” in 1901-1920

Under the influence of educational ideas, in 1850 a state Jewish school of the 1st degree appeared (in 1863 it catered for 20 boys). In the beginning of the XX century private schools appeared. In 1906, it was a Jewish school for girls of the 3rd degree (there were 48 girls in 1915) and in 1914, there was a mixed Jewish school of the 3rd degree (15 boys and 11 girls studied there in 1915). A new Talmud-Torah was also created in 1912. It was an improved Jewish school with teaching in Hebrew under the direction of Y.Y.Vol. Besides, 120 Jewish children (from the total number of 420) attended a district school.

Sobornaya Str., near 1910

Sobornaya Str., approx. 1910

In the beginning of the XX century a considerable part of Jewish youth took an active part in social movements. The most popular were the organizations of Zionists, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Bund. The last one was responsible for a mass political demonstration, which caused a spate of arrests on October, 19.

Civil War pogroms

During the first pogrom on January 19, 1918, about 250 Jewish shops and stalls were looted. A wave of pogroms and a typhus epidemic in 1919 led to a large number of deaths among the local Jews. Some of them left the area. As a result, Jewish population halved: from 11,119 people (52.2% of the total number of inhabitants) in 1913 down to 6,063 (47.2%) in 1922.

Information about Civil War pogroms was taken from JDC report by Mr. Segal.

Until 1917 the city had not suffered from any military occupations or coup.
The population lived i n comparatively favorable ciroumstances. The majority of Jews traded i n grain and butter, which were exported abroad. There were about 1500 workers employed in the factorie s of the metal and leather industries . There was also a number of tailoring and shoemaking workshops, each of which employed 15 to 20 workers.

In July 1917, on a Friday afternoon, the 27th infantry regiment passed through
the city . Part of them remained in the city barracks . The res t as well as the cavalry were stationed in the villages. Ukrainian nationalistic elements of the town, at once began anti-Jewish agitation in the army.

In the end of 1917 Zvihil was not more than 120 versts from the front. The
Russian army, which began to dissolve even before the conclusion of peace, was now running away from the front in masses. The ignorant and enraged soldiers not feeling any authority over them, fell upon the cities and towns and robbed whatever they could. There were also single cases of murders. The soldiers were assisted in this by the peasants of the neighboring villages , who shared with them the booty.

Rabbi Yankel-Sryl Korf (~1883-1952). He was spiritual Rabbi of Novograd-Volynskiy between 1907 and 1921

Rabbi Yankel-Srul Korf (~1883-1952). He was spiritual Rabbi of Novograd-Volynskiy between 1907 and 1921

– The first pogrom

On Januray 19 and 20, 1918 there was the first pogrom in Zvihil. It started
on Friday the 19th in the morning. A great mass of soldiers , followed by as till greater band of peasants holding sacks and baskets in their hands and from store to store. The soldiers are breaking into the stores, from a line of the peasants and distribute among them the wares.
The militia commander Bakov had not done a thing to stop the pogrom. He ordered the militia men to shoot, but secretly he entrusted them to shoot in the air. This encouraged the hulligans and the pogrom went on undisturbed.

– Later events

A little later, in the beginning of February, the German army entered Zvihil
in its march through Ukraine. With the help of the Germans number of Jews succeeded in getting back from the hooligans part of the articles robbed away by the letter. But the by far greater part of the Jews were afraid to point out the robbers and pogrom makers, even when they could get back their belongings.
In May 1918 the Germans deposed the Ataman Petlura and made Hetman Skoropadsky head of Ukraine. He was practically nothing more than a servant of the German reactionary clique.

With the outbreak of the German revolution in November 1918, the rule of Skoropadsky ends. Authority over Ukraine is again assured by Petlura. Zvihil was entered by Petlura’s army on December 9, 1918. Until that time everything was comparatively quiet in Ukraine. In January 1919 great struggles began between the Bolsheviks and the “Petlurovtsy”.

– The Bolsheviks in Zvihil

From April 22 on the situation changed radically . On that day the Bolshevist
force that was stationed in Zhitomir occupied Zvihil . They at once founded a revolutionary committee and took into it a few Jews. The antagonism between the Jews and the Ukrainians was growing. The Bolsheviks were a very small number and had with them an insignificant military force. On Sunday, July 6 ,when the Christian population was assembled in the church, the Revolutionary Committee was notified that an agitation is being carried on in the church against the Bolshevist authorities. As a measure of defense the Bolshevist army surrounded the church and shot into it, thereby dispersing the crowd assembled in it.

Varshavskaya street after the fire. From memorial book "Zvil"

Varshavskaya street after the fire. From memorial book “Zvil”

-Second pogrom

On the following day, i. e. on July 7 a band of 3000 organized peasants of the surrounding villages, armed with sticks , attacked the Revolutionary Committee, took away all its money and killed 15 Bolsheviks and men of the army. The other Bolsheviks escaped, and the city remained without any authority. At the same night hooligans began to search the houses for “Jewish Bolsheviks” and thus the terrible pogrom began.

A great number of Jews were dragged beyond the city to the bank of the river Slutsch. They were told to dig a ditch 15 by 20 archin. Then the murderers undressed them naked, chopped off their arms and threw them alive into the grave.
Their were terrible screams during this slaughter. In one instance a father was compelled to chop off the arms of his son; in another, a son was made to do the same thing to his father. About 500 Jews perished in this way. The author of this account Menashe Segal, stood all night naked waiting for his turn , to be killed.
About 2 o’clock a command came to let the ramining Jews live , only keeping them under arrest. Not all the rebels heeded this command, yet many Jews were thus saved among them Menashe Segal. The leader of this band of insurgents was a certain Pogorelov, a former Czarist lieutenant-colonel.

On July 9, Pogorelov stopped the pogrom in Zvihil, but demanded of the Jews
50 horses and a great quantity of salt and sugar. The Jews delivered to him whatever they succeeded in collecting . Besides the Jews who were killed during the 3 days July 8,9 and 10th, beyond the town, a great number of others were killed in their houses, after these had been thoroughly pillaged. Many of these who escaped perished later in the villages and surrounding towns.

Great and Turiysk Synagogues after the fire, 1919. From memorial book "Zvil"

Great and Turiysk Synagogues after the fire, 1919. From memorial book “Zvil”

– Sad episode

There was in the town a certain Mendel Kitai-Baba, an outcast who served in the CheKa (bolshevik’s secret police). The Petlurovtsy demanded that the Jews themselves should find and kill him. The Jews found the outcast somewhere in a garret and had to kill him with their own hands in the court of the synagogue.

People walk through ruins of destroyed homes and buildings 1920. Photo from JDC archive

People walk through ruins of destroyed homes and buildings 1920. Photo from JDC archive

– Contributions imposed upon the Jews
On July 9 Pogorelov stopped the pogrom in Zvihil, but demanded of the Jews 50 horses and a great quantity of salt and sugar. The Jews delivered to him whatever they succeeded in collecting. Besides the Jews who were killed during the 3 days July 8,9, and 10th, beyond the town, a great number of others were killed in their houses, after these had been thoroughly pillaged. Many of these who escaped perished later in the villages and surrounding towns.

– The Bolshevikis in the city. The bloody events in Kameny Brod

Complete order was restored in the city on Thursday, July 10, when an armored train arrived from Zhitomir carrying a detachment of Bolsheviks. Pogorelov captured 1.5 million of Soviet Roubles and fled from the town. But at the station, Сhudnov men of the Bolsheviks army identified and killed him. This fact however did not prevent the insurgents of the surrounding towns and villages from continuing their hooligan work. Thus, on July 17, they issued a decree to kill all the male population of the town Kameny Brod, to the number of 127.

Ruins of old Jewish house in former Jewish neighborhood "Nider", 2016

Ruins of old Jewish house in former Jewish neighborhood “Nider”, 2016

– Pogrom Agitation
On July 16 there came from Zhitomir to Zvihil a force of two to three hundred Bolsheviks. The remaining Jewish population feeling that the Bolsheviks might have to leave the town very soon, because of their small number, and wishing to avoid further massacres on the part of the insurgents, have formed a common secret committee together with the Christian population of Zvihil. The object of this committee was to see that no more bloodshed occurred. The Jews appealed to the Bolshevist authorities many times not to kill the pogrom makers. Nevertheless, a strong agitation was carried on in the town against the Jews. First they demanded that no Jews be allowed to fill public offices. Later they advocated the extermination of all the Jews under 30 years of age. The agitation cost the Jews of Zvihil about 100 victims. The situation became more uncertain. After the execution of Pogorelov the leadership of the insurgents was taken over by another outcast Stoyanovsky, a former bookkeeper in the local Loan fund. The subsequent massacres were all carried out in accordance with his orders.
The band of insurgents which hitherto had its quarters on the other side of the city , now crossed the river and went to the village Chizhovka, about 10 versts from Zvihil.
On July 25 there arrived in Zvihil a larger number of Red Army men. The city gradually came to itself, but it was its fate to live through the horrible event very soon.

Group of Zvihil zionists before emmigration to Eretz-Israel in Rovno, 1920. From memorial book “Zvil”

Group of Zvihil zionists before emmigration to Eretz-Israel in Rovno, 1920. From memorial book “Zvil”

– The Bolsheviks left. A delegation to the insurgents.
On August 17, the Bolshevist military forces left Zvihil. The city temporarily remained without any authority. The Jews then sent a delegation to Stoyanovsky’s band. The delegation consisted of Dr. Volsky, the priest, Alexander Kutchinsky and the pharmacist Ludwig Machan. The delegation requested that no pogrom be made. Stoyanovsky there upon replied that he will not leave a single Jew alive . As soon as the delegation left Stoyanovsky’s quarters and the Bolsheviks left the town a band of hulligans crossed the river, set fire to a number of houses on the bank, plundered them, killed men, violated women. The center of the town, however,
they did not enter.

– The “Petlurovtsy” from Eastern Galicia. Contributions
On August 16, a larger force of “Petlurovtsy” came to the city from Shepetovka. They were from Eastern Galicia in a peaceful way they demanded the following to be given them in the course of 2-3 hours; 100,000 roubles, 25 poods of salt, as much sugar and 100 poods of bread. The Jews started negotiations. They pointed out the fact that the city has for over a month been torn away from the village and that they could not even feed theirs elves. Many children are dying from hunger, adults are giving away their costliest clothes for bread. After long negotiations the Jews succeeded in carrying through the ransom of a large sum of money about 10-15 poods of salt and some sugar, which the Jews collected among themselves.

Zionist conference in Novograd-Volynskiy, 1917. From memorial book "Zvil"

Zionist conference in Novograd-Volynskiy, 1917. From memorial book “Zvil”

– The fire
On August 19 Stoyanovsky with his band came to Zvihil. The Jews greeted them with music. On the other side of the river the Bolsheviks were yet quartered. Upon hearing what was going on in the Jewish quarter, they fired from cannons, several explosive gas bombs, which caused a great fire.
There was at that time a strong wind, and the fire raged for about 6 haurs. About 3000, or three quarters of all Jewish houses, over 1000 stores, several drug stores and 26 synagogues burned down. The great majority of the Jewish population remained naked barefoot and without shelter. People began to flee panic-stricken.
The “Petlurovtsy” still remaining in the town helped extinguish the fire very energetically. Dr. Tchernobilsky and Mr.Segal  succeeded in letting the Bolsheviks know what havoc their bombs wrought. The Bolsheviks then sent for the sufferers; 900,000 roubles, 50 poods of salt, 6000 arshin of cloth, a larger amount of sugar and 300 boxes of glass. For a few days it was comparatively quiet in the town.

House of owner of the leather factory Itzik Faigengolts

House of owner of the leather factory Itzik Faigengolts

– Zvihil without authority. Jews flee . Murders and robberies on the way
On August 23, the “Petlurovtsy” went to Polonnoye. Stoyanovsky’s band left also. The city remained without authority. From the other side of the river, from Lubchitsa and Zhadkovka, bands of peasants would come and kill and rob the shelterless Jews. Every day there would be 5 or 6 men killed , and there was no one to bury them. Part of the Jews escaped via the village Yarun (10-12 versts from Zvihil) to Koretz. On the way many of them were robbed and killed.

House of owner of glass factory Duvidl Mezhiritskiy

House of owner of glass factory Duvidl Mezhiritskiy

– Pogrom. 28 old men killed
On August 26, a band of peasants entered the city, led on by a former excise collector Kotchergin. They fell upon the remaining poor shelterless Jews, who had been unable to escape . They dragged out 47 men of send-ruined houses and killed them.
Even in the home for the aged, where there were 40 inmates, they killed 23 old men.
According to the story of a half-mad woman Etele, the hooligans choked with an “Etz-Chayim” an old Jew who sat over a Gemora. While killin g a Jew the hooligans would shout “Here you have a commune’. After the pogrom the remaining Jews half
naked and hungry, saved their lives by fleeing from the town.

After Civil War

In the 1920-1930s, there were significant changes in the demographics of the Jewish population. The number of traders decreased and at the same time the proportion of intellectuals and industrial workers rose sharply. Small artisans united into collectives called “artels”.

Last year of Hebrew school of Note Shnaiderman in Novograd-Volynskiy, 1921. From memorial book "Zvil"

Last year of Hebrew school of Note Shnaiderman in Novograd-Volynskiy, 1921. From memorial book “Zvil”

The proportion of Jews in the local government was significant.

In 1921, a Jewish Soviet 7 year school No. 5 was created in the town with its life-long principal L.A. Pasternak. In 1939, by the decision of the authorities, it was transformed into a Ukrainian school. In 1927, the Russian Soviet school No. 1 became Jewish and remained such until the beginning of the World War II. All teaching in these schools was in Yiddish. Many Jewish children also studied in Ukrainian and Russian schools.

In the Great Synagogue after restoration, on Hoshana Rabbah, October 1922. From memorial book “Zvil”

In the Great Synagogue after restoration, on Hoshana Rabbah, October 1922. From memorial book “Zvil”

By January 1, 1930 661 members of Jewish religious communities out of the total 6,750 Jews of the town were officially registered, with 18 synagogues and prayer houses. A massive attack on the religious community that began in 1929 ended in the mid-30s with closing of all synagogues and prayer houses.

Rabbi Haim-Shaul Bruk (1894-1965), founder of illegal Chabad yeshiva in Novograd-Volynskiy

Rabbi Haim-Shaul Bruk (1894-1965), founder of illegal Chabad yeshiva in Novograd-Volynskiy

In 1929, it was created illegal Chabad Yeshiva in Novograd-Volynskiy. More details are available in Russian here.

In the fight against Judaism, members of Komsomol and of the Communist party played a major role. For maintaining a Jewish religious school, last Rabbi of Zvyahel Gedale-Moyshe Goldman, the son of Zviagel tsaddik Shlyomke Goldman was sentenced to 7 years of Siberian camps.

In 1939 in Novograd-Volynsk there were 6,839 Jews (28.82%).

Holocaust

Soon after the beginning of German occupation in Novograd-Volynskiy the Jews who stayed in the city were temporarily moved to Shchors street at the Sluch river (former Jewish district “Nider”). Torture and abuse, which the Nazis turned into a mass spectacle, became common.

Empty Jewish neighborhood "Nider" after mass shooting of local Jews in 1941, photo by German soldier Fritz Heinze (1904-1958)

Empty Jewish neighborhood “Nider” after mass shooting of local Jews in 1941, photo by German soldier Fritz Heinze (1904-1958)

During the first „Jewish action“ on July 28-30, 1941 some hundred people were killed by the 1st SS brigade.

In August 1941 the operational detachment No. 5 shot 161 “Jews, communists and robbers”. A maintenance platoon of the 1st motorized SS brigade that came to the city on September 12, 1941 shot 319 Jews, held in prison.

Jews in Novograd-Volynskiy which were closed in greenhouse and killed on next day, 1941

Jews in Novograd-Volynskiy which were closed in greenhouse and killed on next day, 1941

There are also testimonies about the participation of a platoon of the Secret Field Police in mass murders of Jews in Novograd-Volynskiy.

According to a document of the city commission that investigated Nazi crimes, there were killed 750-800 Jews,chiefly women and children, in last days of August 1941, and othere 1500-1600 Jews in August and September 1941.

Most Jews were shot in the north-eastern outskirts of the city, in a former regimental shooting range in Gertsen street. In the mass grave behind the House of officers (Levanevskiy street), a burial place of women and children was discovered. Other Jews were killed and buried with non-Jews on a ground of the former machine-tractor station, in the garden of the former house of invalids (both in Chekhov street) and near the former prison (Volia street).

Public execution during German occupation in January 1943 in Novograd-Volynskiy

Public execution during German occupation in January 1943 in Novograd-Volynskiy

According to some testimonies, survived Jews from Baranovskiy district were brought to Novograd-Volynskiy and put into the plank barracks of the former factory, surrounded by barbed wire.

The prisoners of this camp worked as loaders at the railway station. Some of them survived until the winter of the 1942-1943. The total number of  Jews who became Holocaust victims in Novograd-Volyskiy is estimated at 2,500-3,000. Nearly 350 local Jews died in active military service.

Opening of memorial on the Holocaust mass grave in October 7, 1996:

After WWII

During the first post-war years, small monuments bearing the Star of David and inscriptions in Russian and Hebrew were erected at the local peoples’ expense to commemorate the victims of mass shootings. However, in the 1970s five-pointed stars and inscriptions in Russian replaced them, saying that the “Soviet citizens” were killed there. In 1993 and 1996 new memorials appeared above mass graves in the area near Gertsen str. and behind the House of Officers, the latter bearing Jewish symbols. After the liberation, about 3,000 Jews came back to the town from evacuation and from the front. In 1959, the Jewish population was 3,300 people (12% of the population). In the 1950-60s, most Jews lived in Sholom Aleichem str., Luxemburg R. str., Shchor str., Oktiabrskaya str., K. Marks str., Yanovskiy str. and  Furmanov str. At the time sounds of Yiddish were often heard in the streets, in the old market place and in the shops. There were many Jews among doctors, teachers, tradesmen, tailors, and photographers. In the early 70s, the workforce of the central barber shop was nearly 2/3 Jewish. A lot of Jewish people worked at the local machine building plant, furniture factory, food processing plant, many workshops. The director of the cinema F. Uris was awarded a noble title of “The Honored worker of Ukrainian culture”. The barber Y.Shteinberg became The Honored Service Worker of Ukraine”.

Former Jewish neighborhood Varshavnya. New houses were built on the basement of Jewish buildings but they still very close to each other.

Former Jewish neighborhood Varshavnya. New houses were built on the basement of Jewish buildings but they still very close to each other.

In 1945 after a long break, the Jewish religious community was recreated in the town; officially it was registered on April 10, 1946. There were about 200-300 people in it on August 1, 1949; the rabbi was Elia-Zeydel Chaimovich Rozenshtein. The prayers took place in the house in Troitska street, 24. Circumcisions were conducted in secret. Livestock and poultry slaughter was done by several shoyhets (ritual cutters). Traditional Jewish funerals took place at the Jewish cemetery.

Fanya Dorfman (1927-1999) is standing on the front of his house in former Jewish neighborhood Varshavnya (now Furmanova Street), 1997

Fanya Dorfman (1927-1999) is standing on the front of his house in former Jewish neighborhood Varshavnya (now Furmanova Street), 1997

On July 7, in accordance with the decision, banning religious communities from owning prayer houses, the local court of law ruled to invalidate the property contract by the Jewish community and transferred the ownership to the City Council Fund. On July 30, 1960, the town authorities decided to give this building to the local department of education in order to create a kindergarten there. The local press started a powerful propaganda campaign against Judaism and heads of the community. After that, the Jewish community existed illegal.

There were the synagogue after the WWII

There was the synagogue after the WWII

People prayed on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and also on holidays in private flats and houses; in the 1960’s illegal services were at 5 Oktiabrskaya str., and in the 1970’s-1980’s at 3 Komsomolskaya str. The Torah and prayers were read by hazzan (cantor). The community consisted of mostly elderly men. The police often interrupted prayers and imposed a fine on home owners for illegal services. In the 80s, the authorities stopped persecuting the community but refused to legalize it.

Jewish WWII-veterans of medical service. From left to right: Polina Kletser (nurse, died in San Francisco), Vera Borisovna Vinokur (doctor, died in Israel), Lubov Mihailovna Rudina (doctor, died in the USA), Klavdiya Zusevna Lys (doctor, died in the USA, provided this photo to Ilya Levitas), Riva Markovna Bender (emmigrated to Israel), Sofiya Ignatievna Krupovich (pharmacist, died in Ukraine), Novograd-Volynskiy, 1975

Jewish WWII-veterans of medical service. From left to right: Polina Kletser (nurse, died in San Francisco), Vera Borisovna Vinokur (doctor, died in Israel), Lubov Mihailovna Rudina (doctor, died in the USA), Klavdiya Zusevna Lys (doctor, died in the USA, provided this photo to Ilya Levitas), Riva Markovna Bender (emmigrated to Israel), Sofiya Ignatievna Krupovich (pharmacist, died in Ukraine), Novograd-Volynskiy, 1975

According to the census in 1979, 2,274 Jews lived in town (4.7% of the total number). The census of 1989 witnessed a decrease in Jewish population. Among 1,648 local Jews (2.9%) only 257 called Yiddish their native language. Despite considerable amount of Jews living in the town, until the end of the 80s any form of national movement was prohibited. In May 1992, the Jewish religious community was officially legalized again. On June 27 of the same year at the founding conference of the local Jews a society of Jewish culture “Vozrozhdeniye” was created. In several months, the town authorities provided two rooms at 25, Lenin str to the Jewish community: one for the prayer room and the second for the cultural center. In September 1993, the Jewish Sunday School was opened. There were Hebrew courses for adults.

On May 20, 1994 on the stage of the Palace of Culture in Novograd-Volynsky was performed the first concert of the local Jewish amateur pop group “Zvil”. The latter successfully toured in many cities of Ukraine and participated in various festivals. A remarkable event for our town was the Ukrainian festival of Jewish pop art “Berezneva menorah” in March 1997. Its participants were warmly greeted by local audience.

Jews of Novograd-Volynskiy came to their synagogue to celebrate Purim, 1997

Jews of Novograd-Volynskiy came to their synagogue to celebrate Purim, 1997

The care for lonely and ill people is provided by the Jewish care service created in 1995. Free dinners are organized for poorest people. Religious holidays are celebrated. Every year in the beginning of May members of the community visit Jewish mass graves of Novograd-Volynskyand its district. On Sundays, the club of Jewish culture fans “Bagegn” has its meetings. Despite the rebirth of national culture, the number of local Jews has decreased as the result of mass emigration and the predominance of the elderly, and in December 2001, only 188 Jews were registered in the city.

Hasidim of the community “Zvihil” from Israel are visiting the synagogue in Novograd-Volynskiy, 2001

Hasidim of the community “Zvihil” from Israel are visiting the synagogue in Novograd-Volynskiy, 2001

In 2007, 8 Jewish gravestones were found in Rokossovskogo Street and returned to Jewish cemetery.

Famous Jews from Novograd-Volynsk

In Novograd-Volynskiy the writer Mordechay Zeyev Feyerberg (1874-1899) was born, who created his works in Hebrew. On July 27, 2001, a ceremony of opening a memorial plaque took place. It was mounted on the front of the building of the former Chernobyl synagogue, where the future writer used to study. Later was found his gravestone on the Jewish cemetery.

Memorial plaque to Mordechay Zeyev Feyerberg

Memorial plaque to Mordechay Zeyev Feyerberg

It is also a birthplace of famous historian, journalist and translator Shmul Tsvi Zetser (1876-1962), journalist  and publisher Avrum Ludvipol (1866-1921), major-general of engineering troops  Ivan Brynzov /Isaac Shmulson/ (1901-1953).

Isaac Naumovich Shmulzon (1901-1953)

Isaac Naumovich Shmulzon (1901-1953)

Here lived an educator, a journalist and a literary critic Yakov Iosif Vol (1870-1944), such public figures as Shmuel Aba Penn (1864-1923) and Avrum Cheskis (1879-1935).

Yakov Iosif Vol (1870-1944)

Yakov Iosif Vol (1870-1944)

In the summer 1920 a famous Soviet Jewish writer Isaac Babel visited Novograd-Volynskiy and described later our town in his three stories. The former resident of Novograd-Volynskiy, journalist and writer Yosif Feldman (1905-1984) left the memories about the native town in the first decades of the XXth century.

 

Holocaust mass graves

There are 5 Holocaust mass graves in Novograd-Volynskiy:
– in Levanevskogo Street, north-eastern part of the city on the right bank of the river Sluch in the park of Partisan Glory (near garrison House of officers)
The place of execution of the Jewish population: approx. 750 people (mainly women and children) in August 1941

Monument on the mass grave in Levanevskogo Street

Monument on the mass grave in Levanevskogo Street

– in Gertsen Street, the north-eastern part of the city near confectionery factory (before the war it was shooting range of local Cavalry Regiment). The place of execution of the Jewish population of 3200 people (according to other documents – 1500-1600 people) in August-September 1941

Monument on the mass grave near former shooting range

Monument on the mass grave near former shooting range

– in Voly Str.,52 in south-eastern part of the city, beyond the western wall of the former prison.
Place of mass executions of civilians (mostly Jews) and prisoners of war. There were killed approx. 7200 people.

Monument near former prison

Monument near former prison

– in Chekhov Str., 4, the south-western part of the city, on the territory of the dermatological department of local hospital (a garden of the former  house of invalids). In the end of July – early August 1941, there were killed approx. 200 person (Jews and Communists).

Monument near the hospital

Monument near the hospital

– on Chekhov Str.,5 in south-western part of the city, in the former territory of MTS. In the end of July – early August 1941, there were killed approx. 800 person (Jewish and Communists)

Monument on Chekhova Str., 5

Monument on Chekhova Str., 5

 

Old Jewish cemetery

The cemetery was situated  in Kotsiubinskiy street, in the northern part of the town and founded in the XVII-XVIII century. For the first time it wasmentioned on the map by 1798. In 1831,  founder of Zvyahel Hasidim dynasty Rabbi Moyshe Goldman was buried here. The cemetery was closed in the second half of the XIX century and its destruction was started in the 1920’s. Its size was around 50m x 100m.

In the 1930-1940s, the authorities gaveover the ground to town dwellers for the building of housing. Thus, the tomb of tzaddik Rabbi Moyshe Goldman was demolished; it was the place where religious Jews used to congregate.

In 2011, on the grave of tzaddik Rabbi Moyshe was build an ohel with a small table in Hebrew. In 2016, we discovered that the table was destroyed.

Ohel on the grave of Moyshe Goldman (1763? -1831)

Ohel on the grave of Moyshe Goldman (1763? -1831)

Last Jewish gravestone with unreadable Hebrew letters disappeared from this area in 2015.

New Jewish cemetery

The cemetery was founded in the 1850s on the western outskirts of Novograd-Volynsky and is still in use.
Here are graves of tsadiks from Zvyahel dynasty Ichil-Michl and Mordke Goldman, the grave of Hebrew writer M.Z. Feyerberg and some mass graves of the Jews who were killed outside of the town.

Cemetery was seriously damaged during a WWII because of Soviet-German battle in July 1941. Also Germans used  gravestones for road paving during occupation.

In 2016, it was erected a stone wall around the cemetery for donations of former Jewish residents of Novograd Volynskiy from Israel, USAand other countries; the municipality paved here pathways to the graves of the tsadikim and Feyerberg.

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