Tarashcha is a city located in Kiev region, center of Tarashcha district. The city’s estimated population is 13,307 (as of 2001).
In XIX – beginning of XX century it was the center of Tarashcha Yezd (county) of Kiev Gubernia.
Holocaust information was provided by local historial Leonid Lashenko.
Much more information can be found in Yiddish book “Tarashcha, a History of a Small Shtetl in Kiev Guberniya”. It was published in USA, 1930’s.
Local historian Leonid Lashchenko, who provided much information for this article
A Jewish community has existed in Tarashcha since the mid-XVIII century.
In 1722, Tarashcha received a status of a shtetl. In 1765, 134 Jews lived in Tarashcha. According to the lustration of 1789, the Jews owned 31 houses in the market and 41 houses in the side streets.
City plan, 1826
City plan, 1913
By the early XIX century, more than 5,300 Jews lived in Tarashcha. Jews constituted 46% of the total population. Leontiy Pokhilevich in his book “Tales of the inhabited areas of Kiev province” says that 3,580 Christians, 3,670 Jews lived in the shtetl in 1864. There were three merchants of the third guild among the Christians and 18 among the Jews.
Last building of the synagogue in Tarashcha
In “The Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary” of 1898 stated that 11,322 people lived in Tarashcha. 5,968 of them were Christians and 5,181 Jewish.
In the 1860’s, Israel-Froim Gelman was a rabbi in Tarashcha.
Michael Urovskiy was a successful local photographer in PreRevolution Tarasha. His son became a famous Soviet composer in Moscow:
PreRevolution Tarashcha, photo by Urovskiy
PreRevolution Tarashcha, photo by Urovskiy
House of photographer Urovskiy, 2016
Back side of Urovskiy’s photos
There were three synagogues in the city of Tarashcha at the turn of the century, and 11 total in all of Tarashcha district.
Tarashcha market square, 1910’s. Roof of the Big Synagogue is on the background
A Talmud-Torah and one private Jewish men’s college were functioning in 1910.
Munish Moyshe-Aronovich Kuptsov was a rabbi in 1913.
Tarashcha entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913
Tarashcha was badly damaged during the 1918-20 riots.
The first pogrom took place on June 20, 1918, and consisted of robberies only.
The second pogrom took place on April 1, 1919; peasants from surrounding villages attacked Tarashcha with pitchforks and sticks, robbed residents’ houses and demanded money. An announcement was posted on a telegraph pole saying that if the Jewish population did not contribute 100 thousand roubles, they would all be massacred.
Tarasha self defence on the funeral of pogrom victims
On June 16, 1919 a gang of 800 people led by Yatsenko came to Tarashcha. The looting and destruction continued for 2 days. All shops were smashed and destroyed and the losses constituted over 10 million roubles. 2 people were killed. On June 20, it was rumoured that another gang was about to enter the town. Almost the entire Jewish population – 4,000 people – fled to Rokitne. The rumour turned out to be false, but no more than 15 Jewish families remained in the city. A further three pogroms took place between July 1919 October 1920. More than 50 Jews were killed, many were beaten and raped and houses were looted.
Pogrom victims in Tarashcha, 1919
Between the Wars
In the 1920’s, there was a Jewish collective farm Der Leniner Weg (Lenin’s way) in Tarashcha.
Jewish collective farm in Tarashcha. Photo from JOINT archive
This JDC report described the state of Tarashcha Jewish community in 1923:
Tarashcha is a town in Kiev Gubernia, Blelotzerkovsky District and is situated 18 versts distance from the railway station Olshanitzy. It was formerly considered one of the large centers of trade in grain. The great number of primitive workshops, and to a certain extent technical production, sufficiently provided the population with earnings and there were almost no paupers in the town.
During the period of pogroms which took place throughout the Ukraine, Tarashcha became one of the central points Invaded by bandits and it underwent a whole series of pogroms and devastations. Beginning with 1917 and up to 1920, the population underwent 48 changes of authorities accompanied by pogroms and ravages. As a result of the above-mentioned pogroms 211 persons were killed ( a list of names is here to attached), 170 wounded and all the Jews without exception pillaged.
Jewish bath, 1923. Photo from JDC archive
Jewish bath in 2017:
At present there are in Tarashcha 4500 Jews out of whom 40% are wage-earners, 40% small traders and the remaining population consists of workmen, who have for the most part no definite occupation. The economic conditions of the inhabitants have become considerably worse. There are many unemployed, even among the workmen and artisans. Bow great the need is, may be seen from the fact that the $450 received from the Landsmanschaft, had to be divided among 274 needy families. The following persons are especially in needs 49 widows (list of names is hereto attached, 95 homeless orphans(list attached) and about 50 Aged… read more
During the induced famine in 1932 – 1933 (The Holodomor), according to the official data 701 people died in Tarashcha.We don’t know the exact amount of Jews among them.
In the 1920’s, a Jewish school was formed, and in 1937-1938 it was closed. Math teacher, Motia Selitrennik, (1904, Bar – 1941, Tarashcha) was it’s principal. He lived in the official apartment together with his family near the school. His wife Sheyva Nutovna Orekhovskaya ( 1912, Pokotilovo – 1941, Tarashcha) was also a teacher.
There was a Jewish secondary school after the Revolution
Document of Tarashcha city council with stamp in Yiddish, 1934. Courtesy Leonid Lashchenko
According to the census of 1939 1,140 Jews lived in the shtetl. The families of Feldmans, Faynbergs, Zilbermans, Guralniks, Rezniks, Shreyders and many others were among them.
Jewish family Zhukovski from village Zhydivska Greblya of Tarashcha district
German troops entered Tarashcha on the 22nd of July 1941. The exact amount of the Jews who remained in Tarashcha under German occupation is unknown. Though, we can assume that approximately 500-600 people remained.
Soviet POWs near Tarashcha House of culture, 1941
Right after the occupational power had appeared the Jews were forced to leave their houses in the central streets and settle in the ghetto. It was a special camp which was organized in the place down Bohdan Khmelnitskiy street, in Proletarska one. The burnt out remains of the technical college of mechanical engineering was also attached to the ghetto. Several families had to live together in one house. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded. All the Jews had to wear a band with a Star of David on their sleeves.
Site of former Jewish ghetto
The men of 14-60 were forced to work. This was mostly cleaning the streets, auxiliary construction works, dismantling of destroyed buildings, supplying the establishments with water. The latter was delivered in a big barrel on the wheels. The ghetto didn’t receive food. The prisoners who still had some valuable things exchanged them for products. The guards closed their eyes at children who left the ghetto for the town to carry out those exchanges. Many of Tarashchas Ukrainians shared their products without any fee.
On August 2nd or 3rd, 1941 the tracks with middle-aged prisoners left Tarashcha. Those were men. They were ordered to take all their valuables and clothes with them. They were said they were going to Germany to work there. This fact is known from Grigoriy Reznik a Tarashcha resident. They all were shot in Bila Tserkva. Only children, women and elder people were left in the ghetto.
The most massive shooting took place in September (the exact date is unknown) in so called Hlybokyy Yar near the market. The pit was dug beforehand and was about two meters wide and ten meters long. The Jews were led under escort of the Germans with the dogs and policemen to the ravine along Lenin and Paris Commune streets. At the bottom of the ravine they sat down to the right of the path. Groups of several people were led to the corner of the ravine where they were made to undress. Then there was a queue to the pit where the shooting was going on. It was carried out by a specially trained executor, a German officer. He was sitting in front of the pit on a convertible chair. People were led up to him and the executor shot at the back of the head. A table where they loaded the pistols was standing nearby.
The ravine was located almost in the center of Tarashcha. The gardens of the locals were there, shepherds led their cows there. When the column of Jews was brought down the ravine the boys climbed up the trees and could see the beginning of the execution.
Jewish population of Tarashcha:
1765 – 134 Jews
1847 – 4905 Jews
1864 – 3670Jews
1898 – 5968 (52% of total)
1939 – 1,140
1998 – 49 Jews
2016 – 5 Jews
Groups of several people were led to the corner of the ravine where they were made to undress. Then there was a queue to the pit where the shooting was going on. It was carried out by a specially trained executor, a German officer. He was sitting in front of the pit on a convertible chair. People were led up to him and the executor shot at the back of the head. A table where they loaded the pistols was standing nearby.
– A young woman with two ten year-old boys was brought to the ravine first, – eyewitness Serhiy Kindratovych Yakovenko said. – The children began crying as they were about to die..Their mother tried to calm them down. She behaved as if she was waiting in line for bread and not for death. Obviously, she wanted everything to be over as soon as possible. Three shots were made and the bodies rolled into the ravine. Poor people were led to the ravine and shot in the head. Some of them resisted and then the bullet reached them inside the ravine. Some people lost their conscious and fell down still alive.
A few dozens of Soviet prisoners of war were shot together with the Jews that day.
According to the information of different eyewitnesses from 150 to 300 Jews were shot that tragic day in September 1941.
The Germans didn’t touch all the valuables and clothes. They were taken away by the locals. When the Jews came back from the evacuation they recognized their children’s and other relatives’ clothes on other people, especially on policemen’s children.
Then the groups of five-ten Jews were also shot several times by the same German.
However, the chasteness didn’t manage to shoot all the Jews that day. Many local Jews survived. Samiylo Selitrenik, a boy of ten, escaped from the ghetto. In 1991, he came to Tarashcha to the place where his relatives were shot.
The seven or eight year-old boy lived with his parents in Nadiya Nazarivna Atamanenko’s flat in Radianska street. He wasn’t given up by his neighbors.
Killed in Tarashcha:
Sheiva Nutovna Salitrenik (Orehovskaya) (1912-1941)
Mariya Grigorievna Altman (? – 1941)
A girl of ten survived in Bohdan Khmelnitskiy street near “zasolka”. When the Germans came for their parents she popped out of the window and was hiding in Stavyshche area. In 1944 she used to come to Tarashcha.
Tarashcha resident Lidiya Klymivna Servinska , born in 1915 saved four or five year-old Jewish boy right from the place of the execution. He ran out of the column and rushed into the crowd of people. The woman brought the boy to her brother to Ulashivka and was hiding him in the attic. She took him to the healer to take fright off. The boy’s name was Zhora. After the war a young Jewish man came after him saying that he was his relative.
A Jewish woman Zina managed to survive living in the village of Potoky with her three children. Her neighbors did not denounce her though the whole village knew her nationality. Sewer Fruma Barska from Salykha village hadn’t been arrested approximately by November 1941.
Lisovychy resident Kuzma Afanasiyovych Dobrovolskyy helped to hide one elderly Jewish couple.
Tarashcha resident Kateryna Denysivna Servinska was hiding Berta Kardynska who used to work as a telephonist. She was also hiding at Mykhaylo Karpovych Burkivskiy.
Samuil Salitrenik (1931-2013) and his savior Kondrat Gedzik, summer 1944, Tarashcha
Samuil Salitrenik (1931-2013) on the grave of his mother and 2 sisters, Tarashcha 1991
Y. S. Boyarchukova was hiding Jewish woman Sheer. Jewish blacksmith Sheer (or Borodianskyy, according to other data) was hiding in a haystack in Tarashcha suburbs.
A resident of Velyka Berezianka Antonina Ivanivna Onopriyenko accidentally found a Jewish family in the attic of the pigsty. They were hiding there. She told about it to her parents Ivan Avramovych and Fevroniya Tarasivna. They didn’t give the escapers out though they could have been shot. Further fate of this family is unknown.
Next time the column of the Jews caught in different places was led to be shot from the Naberezhna side. They were also said that they were going to Belaya Tserkov, that all others had already been shot and they wouldn’t, they would work. They were going along Naberezhnaya in the direction of Belaya Tserkov. Then suddenly turned and headed for the same ravine.
Another small column was led along Lenin street, next time – along Paris Commune street. Those were elderly people and children. A rabbi was walking the first.
Total amount of the Jews who were shot in Tarashcha is now difficult to determine. According to very approximate calculation 400-500 Jews from Tarashcha became the victims of those bloody actions.
List of perished Jewish soldiers and civilians (not full):
In the late 1960’s, a large monument was established in the ravine where the shooting took place. There was a five-pointed star, sickle and hammer, a Jewish menorah and inscriptions in Hebrew and Russian on it. This monument was made by architect Besarabov.
Memorial ceremony on the Holocaust mass grave, 1991. Courtesy Leonid Lashchenko
Post WWII period
After the war some Jewish families came back to Tarashcha. There were the Altmans, Merkotans, Trubers among them. However, community life didn’t revive.
A Jewish community was registered in Tarashcha in 1997. In 1998, it included 49 Jews. Yakiv-Yosif Yelevich Altman (1997-2003) was its first head. His children left for Germany. Emma Izrailevna Chizhevskaya was his deputy. Petr Melnichenko (1941 – 2011) was the next head of the community. Vladimir Shcherbinka has been its head since 2011.
In 2016, only five Jews lived in Tarashcha.
Local historian Leonid Lashchenko with Jewish gravestone in the field near Tarashcha, 2016
Fund 1162 Tarashcha rabbinate is in Kiev Archive. It includes 38 cases of 1845-1917.
Tarashcha archive was destroyed in 1941 and we are not aware of how many valuable documents were demolished.
1804 and 1835 censuses are available online.
In the census of Tarashcha Jews of 1835, there are the following surnames, Dolinskiy, Trakhtenbard, Ostrov (or Ostrovskiy?), Tiutiunik, Leshkovich, Grodskiy, Vakhnenko, Sigilov, Refert, Chudnovskiy, Kats, Nakhmanovich, Kanevskiy, Ostrovskiy, Kozarovskiy/Koziarinskiy, Kagan, Liashkovich, Zabor/Zabara, Ovadenko, Brodskiy, Polovinchik, Alexandrovskiy, Satanovskiy, Golbard, Sigiliov, Zabara, Kats, Evriy, Mekhorinskiy, Gilirman/Gilerman, Kotliar, Bobrutskiy.
Famous Jews from Tarashcha
Abraham Yefimovich Zlatotsvetov (Goldfarb, 1900 – 1970), a Soviet general.
Abraham Yefimovich Zlatotsvetov
Aron Izrailevich Liumkis (1904 – 1988), a painter
Abraham Katsev (1916, born in Chernina village, Tarashcha district), a poet
Yefim Moiseyevich Livertovskiy (1910-1978), an engineer-mechanic, specialist in the weapon area.
Vladimir Mikhaylovich Yurovskiy (1915-1972), a composer
Menukha Ram (Rivka Valdman, 1916), a writer
M. Gaysinskiy (1898 – 1976), born in Tarashcha, a chemist
Yefim Moiseyevich Livertovskiy (1910, Tarashcha, Kiev province – 1978, Moscow), an engineer-mechanic, specialist in the weapon area
Morris Cohen – born in New York in a family originating from Russia. A Soviet intelligence officer, Hero of Russia; obtained information about the development of the atomic bomb in the United States. His father came from the town of Tarashcha.
Mois Gaysynsky (b. Tarashcha, 1898 – d. Paris, 1976) – a chemist, author of the world’s first monograph on radiation chemistry.
Isai Feldman (b. Tarashcha, 1937) – a zoologist, author of more than 80 scientific papers and 2 monographs. He was awarded 2 bronze medals of the USSR for his achievements in the field of veterinary science. Now lives in Detroit.
Alexander Zlotnik (b. Tarashcha, 1948) – composer, People’s Artist of Ukraine.
Boris Tomashevskiy (b. Tarashcha, 1868 – d. USA, 1939) – an actor, director, playwright, founder of American Jewish theatres, where performances were in Yiddish.
Boris Tomashevskiy (on the left) on the scene of New York theater
Pinchas Gelman (b. Tarashcha, 1880 – d. Dnipropetrovsk, 1921) – Rabbi of Dnipropetrovsk, deputy of Katerynoslav City Council, the founder of several yeshivas in Dnipropetrovsk. Among his students: Israeli Minister of Education Zalman Oren.
Grave of Rabbi Pinchas Gelman in Dnepropetrovsk
Israel Sivorinovsky (possibly Severinovsky), b. Tarashcha, 1913 – d. 1941 – Soviet submariner.
Cemetery was established in the XIX century and still in use. The cemetery expanded in the early XIX century and the old sections were gradually demolished and built upon; it is not known when.
Old part of the cemetery:
There are approximately 70 gravestones in the old section of the cemetery and around 100 in the new section. While all of the gravestones in the new section are well-kept and undamaged, more than 75% of those in the old section are damaged and/or broken. Most gravestones are made of granite and brick, while some are made of broken bricks using concrete as mortar. Many such tombstones are destroyed as a result of natural erosion and the vegetation growth. Inscriptions are in Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish.
The Germans demolished the monuments on the graves in the Jewish cemetery with their tanks in 1941-1944. They used them for fencing Gebitkomissariat (a district council).
The oldest gravestone dates from 1895 – its inscription is as follows:
ב”ר מרדכי הכהן
נפ [.] כסלו
19 ноября 1895 г.
(Trans. Arye Yehudah, son of rabbi Mordechai Kohen, died on […] Kislev 5656. May his soul be tied in the knot of life).
New part of the cemetery:
Rabbi Raphael of Bershad (1751-1827) – a student of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, a student of the Besht. For a long time Rabbi Raphael lived in Tarashcha. He is buried in Tarashcha. Ohel was reconstructed in 2003-2004 by Rabbi Meir Gabai.
One Holocaust memorial monument locates here. There is no information about time of erection. At the front of the column there are memorial inscriptions in Russian and Hebrew. On the back there is a partially-erased inscription in Russian. It would seem from the words that remain that this was previously a non-Jewish tombstone which was re-used. The memorial inscriptions on the pillar read as follows:
והנמכתים ע”י האכזר
היטלר בשנת תשב
(Trans. Here lie the sacred [martyrs], killed and executed at the hands of the cruel Hitler in 5702, here, in Tarashcha).
Здесь покоится прах
погибших от рук немецко-
в 1941 году. Тараща
(Trans. Here lie the remains of Jewish citizens killed by the German Fascist murderers in 1941, Tarashcha).
Part of this information was taken from Lo-Tishkah website. Another part was collected during the visit in 2016.
Holocaust mass grave
The mass grave is located in the central part of the town, opposite the market. Local residents call it the ‘small Babi Yar’/Tarashcha Babi Yar.
The inscription on the memorial reads:
Здесь покоится прах еврейских и русских граждан
погибших от рук немецко-фашистских бандитов
во время оккупации г. Таращи в 1941г. (Trans. Here lie the Jewish and Russian citizens killed by the German-Fascist murderers during the occupation of the town of Tarashcha in 1941).