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Vasilkov

Vasilkov
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Vasilkov is a city in Kiev region with a population, as of 2013, of 36,672.

Vasilkov was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1686 and belonged to the Kiev-Pechersk Monastery till 1785.
In 1796, it became a center of the Vasilkov uyezd of Kiev gubernia.

In 1648, Vasilkov was conquered by chmielnicki’s cossacks who massacred its inhabitants, Jews and Poles alike. Since Vasilkov was annexed to Russia in 1686 no Jewish community existed there until the second partition of Poland in 1792.

Vasilkov was a Chasidic community and for some time David b. Nahum Twersky of Chernobyl lived there. The Jews in Vasilkov engaged in crafts, small-scale business, and worked in local tanneries.

Vasilkov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 1

Vasilkov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 1

Vasilkov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 2

Vasilkov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913, part 2

Jewish population of Vasilkov:
1799 – 1478 Jews
1802 – 1889 Jews
1861 – 2999 Jews
1897 – 5156 (40%)
1926 – 3061 (14%)
1939 – 1736 (11%)
2017 ~ 100 Jews

In 1861, there was one synagogue and two prayer houses in Vasilkov.Tailoring and trade were the most spread occupations amongst Jews of Vasilkov uiezd. There were approximately 4,400 Jews in the town and nearby villages.

In 1881 the town experience a several-day-long pogrom during which a number of Jews were murdered and Jewish houses and property were looted or destroyed.

The number of Jews in Vasilkov grew steadily in the course of the XIX century. In 1897 Vasilkov’s 5,156 Jews constituted 39.3 percent of the total population.

Former synagogue in Vasilkov

Former synagogue in Vasilkov

Four synagogues and 34 prayer houses with four rabbis were officially registered in 1907.
In 1909 there was a Talmud-Еorah, a primary girls training school, and two private specialized schools. The Vaisberg brothers owned three tanneries.

Russian soldiers in Vasilkov, 1910's

Russian soldiers in Vasilkov, 1910’s

Civil War

The Jews of Vasilkov suffered greatly from the violence accompanying the years of revolution and civil war in Russia. In the series of pogroms staged in 1919 by various warring parties a number of Jews was killed, Jewish women were raped, and Jewish property was severely damaged or destroyed.

Ruins in Vasikov after the pogrom, November 1919

Ruins in Vasikov after the pogrom, November 1919

In February 1919, Petlyura’s army conducted pogroms in Vasilkov, massacring 50 Jews and 60 Russians suspected of being communists; the Jewish community was forced to pay a special contribution.

Many of Vasilkov’s Jews left the town during this period, seeking refuge in Kiev.

List of pogrom victims provided by genealogist Nadya Lipes and jewishpogroms.net.ua:

 

Between the Wars

When the Soviet regime was established, Jewish communal life was discontinued.
In 1926, the Jews in Vasilkov numbered 3061 (14. 4% of the total population).

The ban imposed by Soviets on any kind of private economic activity seriously affected the Jewish population of Vasilkov. In the 1930’s there was a Jewish collective farm, “Nayer Veg” (New Way) in Vasilkov.

PreRevolution building in the center of Vasilkov

PreRevolution building in the center of Vasilkov

In addition, many of Vasilkov’s Jews found employment at the local leather factory.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s there was a Yiddish school in Vasilkov.

In 1939 1,736 Jews lived in Vasilkov, where they constituted 11.4 percent of the total population.

Holocaust

Vasilkov was occupied by Wehrmacht on August 31st, 1941.

On August 22nd 1941, a leading command ZK 4 was sent to Vasilkov. It shot more than 300 Jews (according to other sources – 105). The shootings of Jews took place in different places: in the territory of Pokrovskii cemetery, in the sewerage field, in the ravine of Zastugne, in the yard of the mill “Zagotzerno”, and in the railway station Vasilkov-I.

Holocaust mass killing site in Vasilkov

Holocaust mass killing site in Vasilkov

Shootings of the Jewish war prisoners were carried out in the town. A transit-camp was located in the yard of the mill “Zagotzerno”. Those Jews who had managed to come back home were arrested by the Ukrainian police and sent to this camp.

In July-August 1942, 40 Jews and 11 gypsies were shot by the district police in Vasilkov. Jews brought to Vasilkov from other towns and villages of Vasilkov County, apparently including Jews from Borovaya, were murdered in Vasilkov, together with local Jews.

A lot of Jews managed to escape from the place of the execution. In September 1941, Jew named Roza hit the executioner and ran away during the shooting.

A message about four Jews’ escape from the prison of Vasilkov was published in the local newspaper. The release date of the newspaper was October 10th 1942, meaning that the Jews were pursued even after the actions of total destruction.

Righteous among the nations in Vasilkov and Vasilkov district:

Jewish soldiers from Vasilkov who was perished during WWII:

 

Vasilkov was liberated by the Red Army on November 6, 1943.

PostWWII period

After the war a lot of Jewish families returned to Vasilkov. Jewish religious life was prohibited. Iakov Iosifovich Zarkh (1904-1976) was an unofficial rabbi. The community gathered money to help those who were in need.

A minian, mostly consisting of elderly Jews, was gathered in different houses because of the persecution by the authorities. Minian was also gathered in carpenter Lankel Margulis’ house. His two daughters live in Israel now. The following Jews of Vasilkov used to attend the prayers: Bluvshteins, Aizenberg, Perlovich, Zark, Zilman, Galperin, Shatiykins, Kolonskiis.

Matsah was baked in Ukrainian Khors’ house, as he wasn’t persecuted by the authorities and had a stove.

Former synagogue in Vasilkov, now it is a school №1. In the 1950’s, the attic of the school was open and all Torah scrolls and books which had been kept there were thrown to the street. Children were playing with them.

Former synagogue in Vasilkov, now it is a school №1. In the 1950’s, the attic of the school was open and all Torah scrolls and books which had been kept there were thrown to the street. Children were playing with them.

In the 1950’s, the attic of the school was open and all Torah scrolls and books which had been kept there were thrown to the street. Children were playing with them.

A Jewish community was organized 20 years ago in 1997. Semen Isaakovich Teninskii was its first head. When he had died, Mikhail Gershkovich Perlovich took his place. Next chairman was Tatiana Markusovna Rozenberg.
In 2017 Iefim Zavadskii was elected as the head of the community.

Famous Jews from Vasilkov

Volf Mendelevich Beilis (1923, Vasilkov – 2001) an orientalist, historian.

Volf Mendelevich Beilis

Volf Mendelevich Beilis

Itskhok Polishchuk (1882, Vasilkov – 1964, Chicago) a publicist, MD.

Itskhok Polishchuk

Itskhok Polishchuk

Iakov Aizikovich Khelemskiy (1914, Vasilkov – 2003, Moscow), a poet, writer, interpreter.

Iakov Khelemskiy

Iakov Khelemskiy

Eli Gershevich Spivak (1890, Vasilkov – 1950, Moscow, Lubianka jail) a linguist, literary critic, professor.

Eli Spivak

Eli Spivak

Genealogy

Vasilkov census of 1897 has the following Jewish names: Kovelman, Shifris, Nerubai, Moloment, Nemtsov, Iolin, Fuks, Kats, Iolin, Eidlis, Perel, Iudkis, Kotliar, Iaroslavskii, Ritbarg, Chernobilskii, Rovner, Kisilenko, Novak, Rozenfeld, Lishchiner, Dligach, Ozirianskii, Daich, Rabinovich, Ozirianskaia, Zhuravitskii, Chudnovskii, Grach, Roitbarg, Novoselitskii, Poberetskii, Kofman, Sukhkolinskii, Pritsker, Kotsupei, Sandler, Pritsker, Kortsev, Podgaietskii, Borsuk, Blumen, Koshovatskii, Brodskii, Brodskii, Zlotnik, Bliumen, Feldshtein, Sigalov, Brodkin, Alter, Zaritskii, Kazan, Barishpolskii, Vainshtein, Libok, Bas, Soroka, Cherniavskii, Drobner, Pritsker, Pritsker, Sandler, Sokolovskii, Vaismanova, Vaismanova, Dubinskii, Menis, Drobner, Cherniakhovskii, Boguslavskii, Dubinskii, Olshanskii, Vishnevetskii, Vishnevetskii, Vilpan, Shub, Matiushanskaia, Borodkova, Svidkii, Lishchinskii, Goldshtein, Goldshtein, Barishpolskii, Pritsker, Cherkas, Fishman, Goldman, Ruvinskii, Pishchonskii, Tonkonogii, Shinkarov, Pritskerova, Iampolskaia, Libok, Levik, Novoselitskii, Brodskaia, Filkovich, Shapira, Vaksshokher, Korelman.

Also, valuable records regarding Vasilkov Jews in XIX century can be found on this Wikipedia page.

New Jewish cemetery

Cemetery was created in 1950’s.

In 1951 the bodies of the Holocaust victims from Vasilkov were reburied in the town’s Jewish cemetery and a fenced off obelisk was erected. The Russian inscriptions on the plaques attached to this monument say: “Their eternal memory will live in the hearts of all their descendants. To those shot by the German-Fascist barbarians in 1941-1942” and “The remains of the victims of Fascism are buried here.” The monument has no indication of the Jewish identity of the victims.

In 2017, Yacob Tamarkin repaired a memorial plaque on Holocaust mass grave and restored names of killed Jews. They were hidden on opposite site of the plaque according to request of Soviet authorities in 1950’s.

Yacob Tamarkin with results of his job

Yacob Tamarkin with results of his job

In 1950’s, a house of the watchman was built in a Jewish cemetery. He received a salary of 60 roubles from the community. Later the watchman got an apartment in a new house and moved from the cemetery. The house was demolished.

New memorial plaque was placed on memorial, 2017

New memorial plaque was placed on memorial, 2017

 

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