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Rokitne

Rokitne

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Rokitne is an urban-type settlement located on the Ros River in Kiev region. It is the administrative center of Rokytnianskyi district. In 2001, population was 13,790.

In the XIX-early XX centuries, it was a shtetl Rakitne of Vasilkov uyezd, Kiev governorship.

The town of Rokitne had already been known before 1518, owned at that time by Prince Ostrozkiit. In the XVII century, Rokitne was a remarkable settlement with a palace in it. In the mid of May 1648, Kazaks and Tatars captured Rakitnoye and destroyed the local Jewish community.
In 1683, Rokitne belonged to landlord Gurskii.

I couldn’t find any facts of the history of Jews in Rakitne from the pre-revolutionary period 🙁

Old Jewish house in the center of Rokitne

Old Jewish house in the center of Rokitne

In 1905, workers of Rakitne carried out a pogrom but it was put down by local peasants.
In February 1919, peasants from Siniava attacked Rokitne. They robbed wealthy citizens and killed three Jews. Koval, a peasant from Siniava led the attack. On the 14th of August, when Bolsheviks had left the town, Koval, former head of the volost council Vikula Suk, and Larion Vanchenko became the leaders of the peasants. They made the Jewish population contribute 300 thousand roubles which the Jews paid the same day. The next day they were demanded to pay 40 thousand roubles more. This money was paid immediately.

The biggest pogrom was carried out by the Chechen military part of Denikin’s Volunteer Army. As a result, 26 Jews were killed and 40 Jews were wounded. Up to 100 Jewish women aged from 12 to 60 were raped. Eight-ten people took part in raping a small Jewish girl. Local peasants together with policemen robbed the rest of Jewish property. Robberies had a devastating character. Peasants took all valuable and invaluable things, put them on the carts and exported everything to outside the town. They left nothing, neither a pot nor a glass. They took the window frames, broke the doors, and afterwards burnt the houses.

Jewish population of Rokitne:
1897– 1233 (59%)
1939 – 711 (51%)
2017 – 3 Jews

During the Civil War a squad of Jewish self-defense was formed in Rokitne. They guarded the town at nights. They produced weapons themselves in the workshops. Motl Levintant headed the squad. In 1922, there were 40 people in it.

In the late 1920’s – early 1930’s, a national Jewish village council worked in the town. Motl Levintant, Idl Levintant, Mark Gutman, and others were its active participants.

Activists of Rakitne national Jewish village council (from left to right): 1st – Idl Levintant, 3rd – Motl Levintant, 6th – Mark Gutman.

Activists of Rakitne national Jewish village council (from left to right): 1st – Idl Levintant, 3rd – Motl Levintant, 6th – Mark Gutman.

 

There is a stamp of Rokitne Jewish village council on the back of the previous photo. The stamp was in Yiddish. 1920’s-1930’s.

There is a stamp of Rokitne Jewish village council on the back of the previous photo. The stamp was in Yiddish. 1920’s-1930’s.

A Jewish seven-formed school worked in the town at that time. Mark Gutman had been its principal for a long time. He was a teacher of Physics. After the war he was a principal of a Ukrainian seven-formed school, and then he worked as a teacher of Physics.

There was a building of synagogue before Revolution.

There was a building of synagogue before Revolution.

Motl Levintant, Idl Levintant, and Tarnavskii were arrested in the period of Stalin’s repressions. They were prosecuted for keeping a weapon which they had buried it because they didn’t need it anymore. However, someone denounced them and they were sentenced to three years in prison.

There were many artisans and traders among the Jews of the town. The artisans were of different specialties: smiths, cart-wrights, carpenters, tailors, sewers, saddlers, coopers, barbers, hatters, and others. A lot of them had their own workshops and smithies. Work united different families. Older artisans taught their children or just young people to prepare them to take their place. Eyna Poliachenko, Khaim Levintant, Leiba Poliachenko, Avrum Levintant, Zus Levintant, Osia Levintant were the most popular smiths. Boris Boguslavskii and Biniumen Gildin were the best workers. Moyshe Grinberg, Tarnavskii, Dubosarskii, Yankel Kravchenko were the best saddlers.
The Koretskiys, Kofmans, Kagans, Radutskiys were the best traders.

Remains of old Jewish house in the center of Rokitne

Remains of old Jewish house in the center of Rokitne

Many Jews lived in the villages of Rokitne district: Nastashka, Teleshivka, Zhytni Gory, Siniava, Zapruddia, Romashki. They were mostly engaged in agriculture.

Holocaust

Rokitne was occupied from July 25th, 1941 till February 6th, 1944. In November – December 1941, it was incorporated into gebitskomissariat Belaya Tserkov.

On December 27th ,1941, three Comsomol girls were hanged not far from the police office in Rokitne. One of them was Jewish.

In the autumn 1941, about 111 Jews from Rokitne were gathered in the yard of a collective farm in village Bakumovka. They had been kept there for a couple of days and then shot in Rokitne field.

Most of Rokitne Jews were killed on this site

Most of Rokitne Jews were killed on this site

The spring 1942 was the last phase of the destruction of Jews from Rokitne. Jewish families who lived in the villages of Rokitne district including Olshanitsi were arrested in this period. They were sent to Rokitne district police and then to Belaya Tserkov where a part of them was shot. Those people whose Jewish nationality hadn’t been proved were sent home. Arrests and further shootings were continued in the spring 1942. Some people were shot on the seventh military square of Belaya Tserkov.

In September 1941, 20 Jewish families were shot in village Nastashka. After the war the remains of the people who had been shot were reburied in mass grave at the Jewish part of a local cemetery in Kievskaya street, Belaya Tserkov. In 1956, Mikhail Malin erected a monument there.

Holocaust mass grave in Rokitne Jewish cemetery

Holocaust mass grave in Rokitne Jewish cemetery

According to the Extraordinary State Commission 124 people were killed in Rokitne. According to documents of the Soviet intelligence agencies, about 400 Jews died in Rokitne.

Grigorii Rabinovich (1922, Rakitne – ?, Israel) remembers:

On July 6th, 1941 I received a conscription notice from the army in Rokitne. They gathered a column of 80 conscripts. The Ukrainians had escaped from the column on the way and when we reached Dnieper crossing near Kanev there were only Jews and a few Ukrainians left. They were mostly sons of activists of the village and soviet workers. In 1944, as soon as I entered my native village I was immediately recognized. People said “there is Rabinovich’s son coming”. The bodies of five people were hanging in the central square, those were village policemen and German accomplices. I used to know all of them before the war: Sakalskii, club accordionist Bulvinskii, and so on. On the ground nearby there was a body of a dead woman. She had already been taken out of the loop.

Almost all my friends who had been called up to the army in 1941 died. Only Grisha Levich managed to survive. He had lost his arm though.

Yelena Semenovna Boyko, Vasilina Semenovna Sitko, Nadezhda Markovna Derii, Kristina Ivanovna Grinzhevskaia (village Savintsi) were the Righteous people of the World from Rokitne and neighboring villages.

After WWII

After the war the following Jewish families returned from the evacuation and front: Lemberskii, Shapiro, Roizen, Khodirkin, Kagan, Levitant.

List of Jewish WWII veterans who died in Rokitne after the WWII

List of Jewish WWII veterans who died in Rokitne after the WWII

Isaak Radutskii got group 1 disability after the war. He became a director of a restaurant. The other Radutskii was a director of Rokitne MTS. Oleksandr Moiseievich Hodirner worked as a mechanic of Teleshovka MTS.
Lazar Naumovich Kagan has been working as a head of a consumers’ cooperative for a long time. Isaak Borisovich Radutskii was a director of a restaurant which wan the first places in competitions in former USSR. His mother used to stuff fish and bought it near her house.

After the war the remains of the Jews who had been shot were reburied in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery.
Oleksandr Moiseyevich Khodirkin made the first sign on a grave of Holocaust victims. There was a list of those whose names they had managed to find out on it. He was an informal head of the post-war Jewish community during the Soviet period. The sign was innovated in the 2000’s.

In 2017, only three Jews lived in Rokitne 🙁

Famous Jews of Rokitne

Boris Moiseyevich Kotliarskii (1914, village Nastashka, Rokitne district – 1993, Kiev) lieutenant colonel, was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union for successful boosting the rivers Visla, Bug, and Oder on the 27th of February 1945.

Boris Moiseyevich Kotliarskii

Boris Moiseyevich Kotliarskii

Moshe Mikhael Milner (Mikhail Arnoldovich; 1886, Rokitne  – 1953, Leningrad), a Jewish composer and conductor.

Jewish cemetery

Holocaust mas grave:

Old part of the cemetery:

New part:

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