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Borzna is a historic town in northern Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Borzna district in the Chernihiv region. The estimated population of the town is around 10,640 (as of 2011).


The local Jewish community in Borzna was destroyed in 1648 and Jews did not resume living there until the mid-18th century. In 1736, there lived 3 Jewsih families. Thereafter, the local Jewish community grew rapidly, reaching its peak at the end of the 19th century. In 1881 a pogrom took place in Borzna.

Market in Borzna, beginning of 20 century:

Main street in Borzna, beginning of 20 century:

In 1863, a synagogue operated in the town. The most common occupations among Jews were garment manufacturing and trade. Many Jews of Borzna were skilled tailors. In 1881 a pogrom took place in Borzna.
In the 1890s, the rabbi in Borzna was Itshok-Dovid Vidrevich (1861 -?). In 1909, a society of assistance to poor Jews was established and in the following year, the Borzna Jewish community owned a cemetery.

From 1889 to 1895, Mordukh Davidovich Gordon was the state rabbi of Borzna.

During the Beilis trial, 813 rabbis of the Russian Empire signed a declaration about the impossibility of any blood usage in Jewish rituals.
Borzna’s rabbi L.A. Armazorov is mentioned in this list.

Borzna enterpreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1903

Borzna enterpreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1903

Civil War

The first wave of pogroms in Borzna were organised by the Red Army in Summer 1919.
During the pogrom of August 25, 1919 two Jews were killed by Denikin’s soldiers. During the numerous pogroms organised by the Volounteer Army in September were more than twenty Jews were killed and the synagogue was destroyed.

Former synagogue, 2020:

In the 1920’s. Borzna Jews collected money for the construction of a new mikvah. According to JOINT records, in 1924 there was an orphanage for 25 Jewish children.
Under Sovet rule a Yiddish school was established in Borzna.
In the 1920’s and 30’s. the rabbi was a Lubavitcher Hasid, Avrohom-Yitshok Glazman.

The synagogue in the town was closed in the 1920s and 1930s. Immediately after its closure, it became a cinema and is now a shop.

In 1939 326 Jews lived in the town, comprising 3 percent of its total population.

Old buildings in Borzna, 2020:

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Borzna was occupied by German troops on September 11, 1941. Evacuation from Borzna to the East, even two months after the war had begun, was almost impossible. There was no railway in this area, and terrible roads made it impossible to evacuate. Those few who were able to obtain a horse and a wagon, managed to escape, while others tried to leave on foot.
Some Jews from Borzna were shot by Germans in November 1941 in an unknown location. I can guess that they were Communist party members. About 119 people were shot (according to published sources). According to a study of the 1990’s – 168 people.

In February 1942, the German invaders ordered all the Jews of Borzna to gather, on the premise that they were to be sent to Doch railway station. In the evening, the Jews were sledged along the road to Shapovalivka village and shot in an anti-tank ditch to the left of the road.

Jewish population of Borzna:
1897 – 1516 (12,1 %)
1910 – 1121 Jews
1926 – 697 Jews
1939 – 326 Jews
1950 ~ 50 Jews
1990 ~ 20 Jews
2020 ~ 6 Jews

Jews who escaped the first “action” were caught during remaining of occupation. They were killed in Nezhin and Bakhmach.
During the Holocaust in Borzna there were one hundred and eighty local Jews and approximately forty Jews from Borzna district. Of these individuals we only know fifty seven names.
In the 1990’s was discovered the names of twenty Jewish soldiers from Borza who had been drafted into the Soviet Army and died in battles against the Germans.

Borzna was liberated by the Red Army on September 8, 1943.

These memories were taken from

The evacuation was very difficult. Bahmach was destroyed and bombed in July. All trucks left for the front and only a few horses were around. The evacuation started on 27th to the 30th of August- officially on 1st of September. A lot of people bought or got horses by September 5th. to September 11th. The Army left Borzna and then at night, after a very short fight, the fascists entered the town. By this time a lot of people had not been evacuated. And soon many were also surrounded. Our dentist was one of them. She was killed and her husband.

More than 106-110 Jews were still left in Borzna. The situation was very difficult. Tenenbaum, kids, left. Old Tenenbaum stayed. It was exceptionally difficult for them. From day one fascists were mocking them. The soldiers were in Tenenbaum’s house every day taking verything from them: cloth, utensils, buckets… Everybody was trying to help them with bread, metal cup, bucket…

Days and months were going by; it was very difficult to exist. Bad news came in from all sides – a lot of villages were burned to the ground. In the towns of Nezin, Chernigov, Konotop and others all of the Jewish population were killed.

Everybody was expecting something bad to happen.

The first to die was the humpbacked loader Chauskij. A policeman was walking him in a horse collar. He was sent to work, walked in a house and got shot. Jews were told to put on white armbands. Everybody was sent to work. We were cleaning barracks, dirt, and snow on the streets. The first occurrence of a massacre of Jews was in January, 1942. A bigshot from Kiev or Nezin came on January 18th. In the middle of the night all of the Jews were woken up by soldiers and police and sent to the village of Shapovalovka which is 10 km from Borzna. One-hundred and four Jews were shot there on the edge of an anti-tank ditch. Among them were old people, women, and children. Old man Urkin before the massacre was asked: “Do you want to live, old man?” He answered: “I’d like to know how all this will end.” Misha said before dying that ‘the enemies will pay for this with their blood.’ Twenty-two year old Nina Krenhous died with her one year old daughter in her arms. A school teacher, Raisa Belaja, (daughter of bookbinder Baruch Belij) saw the massacre of her 16 year old son Misha and her sister Manja along with her children. The youngest was few months old. She was already in a confused state and did not understand anything except that all she worried about were her lostglasses.

Only a few escaped the massacre. Lisa Babkin ran away, but all her children were killed. She spent the rest of the occupation (2 years) in Konotop and is alive now. Three women who had Russian husbands oisej Levin Yakov was hiding for more then a year but was found. Urkin was hiding in the hospital and escaped. Some Jews escaped massacres in their villages and were hiding with us. We were sending them to the guerilla fighters in Karijukowka. Only a few survived.

Now to Borzna came back all except the Miazorov’s, Turowski’s, and Strilazki’s. In the summer of 1942 the army was going through day and night in the direction of the Volga river. And along with them thousands of Jewish men for work, but really they were walking to a slow death. Moisej Levin’s son, Abba committed suicide in 1941. His family is now living here.

Before the execution, the doomed were deprived of valuable items. Furthermore, Germans did not participate in preparing and implementing the shooting. Only local policemen took part in the execution. Some of them were shot after the liberation of Borzna. After the war, some policemen were imprisoned, released, and lived in Borzna.

About 160 people were shot, most of them Jews, but among the killed were also communists of different nationalities.

Only Lisa Dobkin, among the local Jews, survived the occupation. During the gathering of Jews before the shooting, she hid and survived, thanks to the help of local Ukrainians.
After the war, she lived in Borzna, and in the 1990s, she moved to the United States to be with her daughter.
The mass grave is located 8 km from Borzna in the direction of the Doch station. The grave is monitored and cleaned by students from the village school of Shapovalovka.

After WWII

After the war, several Jewish families returned to Borzna from evacuation and demobilized soldiers from the army. Their surnames were Dobkin, Lifont, Lipmanovich, Karaver, Shchur, Nosovitsky, Margolins, Gelins, Barov, Nekrasovsky, and Izya Kalvaser (worked as a hairdresser).

In the 1950s, about 50 Jews lived in Borzna.

Matzah was baked for all Jewish families in the Shchur family’s house. If someone from the Jews passed away, ten men were gathered to say Kaddish. However, there were no regular gatherings for holidays or Shabbat.

In the 1990s, about 20 Jews lived in Borzna.

Lipmanovich Elizevata Samoilovna was the first chairwoman in 1997 but left with her family. The community did not hold meetings in the 1990s and only received parcels.
In the early 1990s, a Jewish community was organized, with Lipmanovich Elizevata Samoilovna serving as the first chairwoman. In 1997, she left with her family, becoming the first Jewish family to leave Borzna in the 1990s. After her, Grigory Dolgonovsky became the unofficial head of the community.

During my visit to Borzna in 2020, the oldest Jewish community member was Keila Zalmanovna Knopp, born in 1922. Unfortunately, however, we were unable to speak with her.

In 2020, there were 6 people in the Jewish community.

And yes, it is just a cat in Borzna 🙂



Monument on Holocaust mass grave

The mass grave is located on the western outskirts of the Shapovalovka village. To the right of the road towards Borzna, behind the garden belonging to the collective farm. There is a memorial at the site. The monument is a 4-faced, 3-step pyramid, the height of which is 4m, and the size of the basement is 2m x 1m x 5m. There is a star at the top of the monument.  The monument has the following inscription in Russian: “Eternal memory to the victims of fascism who were shot in 1942.” There is no reference to the victims’ Jewish origin.

Information taken from

Jewish Cemetery

The cemetery is located on the north-western outskirts of the town, in an area known as “Novoe mesto”, in Radians’ka Street.
Number Of Gravestones In Cemetery: 17
Earliest Known Jewish Burial: 1951
Last Known Jewish Burial: 2001

During World War II, the local population scattered the gravestones at the cemetery. Therefore, there are only post-war memorials at the cemetery.

Photos from my visit in 2020:

Photos from :

Information taken from



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