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Horodna (Polish), Городня (Ukrainian), Городня – Gorodnia (Russian)

Gorodnya is a historic town (since 1957) located in Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, center of Gorodnya district. Gorodnya is located on the Chibrizh River. The city’s estimated population is 12,766 (as of 2011).

Gorodnya became a part of Russia Empire in 1667, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was center of Gorodnya Yezd of Chernigov Gubernia.

In 1626, Jews were forbidden to live in the Chernigov and Siversk voivodeships. The censuses of the early 19th century did not record the presence of the Jewish population in Gorodne.

A Jewish burial society existed in Gorodnya in 1845. According archival documents a synagogue was erected in the city in 1863.
Jews began to settle in Gorodne in the mid-19th century. In 1847, 577 Jews were living here.

Jewish population of Gorodnya:
1863 — 525 (15,6%)
1886 — 1587 Jews
1897 — 1249 (28,9%)
1920 — 1965 Jews
1926 — 1359 (27,2%)
1939 — 731 Jews
1960s ~ 100 Jews
2000 — 15 Jews
2014 ~ 10 Jews
2020 – 3 Jews

From 1878-1900 the spiritual Rabbi was Shmuel Lerner.

Official Rabbis in Gorodnya:
1861 – Simon Rabinovich
02.1883 – ? Ruvim Gilelevich Tartakovskiy
1885 – 1887 Ruvim Gilelevich Tartakovskiy
1888 – 07.1890 Moses Markovich Sokolovskiy
08.1890-1894 Aaron Shmerkovich Lisicyn (1840-?)
03.1894 09.1894 Aizik Moiseevich Dimentman
09.1894-1897 Dashoshevskiy Iosel Abramovich
10.1897 – ? Morduh Borisovich Feigin (1871 – ?)
1907 – 06.1911 Itzhak Zalmanovich Shneerson (1879, Kamenets-Podolskiy – 1969, Paris). He left an Yiddish book about his years in Russian Empire.
07.1911 – 1917 Nahim-Gershon Yankelevich Berlin

Itzhak Zalmanovich Shneerson (1879, Kamenets-Podolskiy – 1969, Paris)

Itzhak Zalmanovich Shneerson (1879, Kamenets-Podolskiy – 1969, Paris)

In February 15, 1905 members of the Bund participated in the anti-tsarist revolt. In October 1905, attempts at pogroms took place but were stopped by Jewish self-defence units.
In the beginning of XX century David Bukhdruker was appointed chairman of the burial society – Nevelev, shochet – Abram Runin.

Pre-Revolution photo:

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There were 2 synagogues in 1910, one wooden and one stone (these were built in the end of XVIII – beginning of XIX century), 2 Jewish cemeteries also existed.
The stone synagogue was located on the territory of the current Vega enterprise, next to a two-story school building that burned down during World War II. The synagogues were closed in the 1920s-1930s: the brick synagogue was destroyed, and the wooden one was used as a dance floor and later as a cinema.

Former synagogue:

In 1912 there was a Jewish savings and loan association.

In 1918 soldiers from the directorate (Petlura) carried out a pogrom that killed two Jews in Gorodnya. Between 1918 and 1920 several additional waves of pogroms staged by various armed groups forced Jews to leave the town.

Old wooden building in the center of Gorodnya:

In the 1920s, the gangs of ataman Galaka committed pogroms in the villages of the district.

In 1921, due to activity of temporary Jewish self-defence units local Jews managed to prevent pogroms in Gorodnya.
Most Jews in Gorodnya were artisans or merchants (until private commerce was forbidden by the Soviet authorities at the beginning of the 1930s); others worked at Gorodnya’s porcelain factory.
The number of Jews in the town was 731 in 1939, when they comprised 8 percent of the town’s total population.  Small communities existed in villages Solonovka, Ivashkovka and Makishin.

In 1935-1936, the heder in Gorodnya was closed.

Yacov Davidovich Khaitman, died in Gorodnya in 1932

E.F.Ostrovskaya recalled after the war that, the local rabbi warned Jews of the mortal danger posed by the Germans.


Gorodnya was occupied by German troops on August 28, 1941. By this time many Jewish families had already managed to leave. The remaining Jews were required to register with the German authorities, who ordered the Jews to wear a white arm band with a yellow star and recruited them for forced labor. In September 1941 21 Jews were shot by Sonderkommando 7b in the Gorodnya area and in October 24 there was a mass shooting of Jews near the village of Aleshinskoye when 49 people were killed. Some Jews from Gorodnya were shot by Germans in early November 1941; the location  unknown.

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave near khutor Aleshkinskoe

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave near khutor Aleshkinskoe

In November 25, 1941 the last Jews of the village of Solonovka were killed.
In mid-December 1941 Jews in Gorodnya were forced to live on a single street in the town. A few days later they were arrested and imprisoned by Ukrainian police and Hungarian soldiers. On December 20, 1941 at least 82 Jewish women and children were murdered in the yard of Gorodnya Prison No. 4 by a German murder squad with the assistance of Hungarian soldiers and Ukrainian policemen. First the women, then the children were shot in small groups in a particularly brutal manner.

In the beginning of 1941 Jews of village Makishin were deported to Chernigov and killed.
According to different sources (Archivs and local historian’s research) on the territory of Gorodnya district 203 Jews were killed, we know names of only 150 persons. Also we know of 73 names of soldiers which were killed during WWII. Both lists you can find here.

Gorodnya was liberated by the Red Army on September 24, 1943.

After the WWII

After the war Jews returned in Gorodnya. In 1948 were was an illegal minyan.

The exact number of Jewish families living in Gorodne at that time is unknown, but judging by the number of graves in the Jewish cemetery, it can be assumed that up to 100 Jews lived in the former town after the war.
There were no synagogues for the Jews of Gorodne, and the elderly were forced to gather to pray in the Edlin family’s home. Their house was located opposite the music school.

In 1929, the Jews of Gorodne created the first collective farm named after the “Third International”. It existed until the 1950s when it was merged with the other collective farms of Gorodne (after the war, it was no longer Jewish). In 1956, the first head of the unified collective farm was a Jew, M.A. Boyko. During the Revolution of 1917-1920, he fought in the Bogun Regiment of the Red Army.

Among the heads of local enterprises were Jews: Y.S. Mtelitsky, I.M. Oronov, N.Ya. Ginzburg, G.A. Gordashnikov, I.A. Gankin, A.L. Nosovitsky, B.D. Vakhutinsky, and L.M. Novakovsky. J. Azbel was the head of the district sports committee. However, Jewish youth went to study in big cities in the USSR, and the elderly died. The Jewish population constantly decreased.

Jewish community was registered in middle of 1990’s. First Community Chairman was Azbel Iosef Davidovich (deceased), second – Matvei Leonovich Tsadikovich (deceased), third – Lubov Borisovna Krutik (immigrated).

As of 2014 only 10 Jews live in Horodya.

Famous Jew from Gorodnya

Faina Borisovna Vahutinskaya (1932 – 2014) – An English teacher and poet, Faina Borisovna wrote the anthem for Gorodnya as well as many other songs and poems. Faina was also responsible for organizing the construction of a memorial for Gorodnya’s Jews.

Faina Borisovna Vahutinskaya (1932 - 2014)

Faina Borisovna Vahutinskaya (1932 – 2014)

Joseph Alexandrovich Serebryaniy (1907 – 1979) – Famous painter who lived and worked in St. Petersburg.

Bentsion Lazarevic Katamanin (1900 – 1984) – Famous for being the architect of the Moscow subway system. One of the organizers of Pioneer and Komsomol organizations in the Gorodnya in the 1920s.

Joseph Semenovich Yufa (1915 -1974) – Artilleryman and Hero of the Soviet Union.

Abram Isaakovich Katsnelson (1914 – 2003) – Famous Ukrainian poet and literary critic.

Abram Isaakovich Katsnelson (1914 - 2003)

Abram Isaakovich Katsnelson (1914 – 2003)

Abram Samoylovich Pertsovskiy (1897 – 1970) – Military doctor attached to the squadron “Normandy – Neman”.

Abraham Ayzykovych Eidlin (1939 – 2008) – Famous scientist and member of the faculty of Krasnoyarsk Polytechnic Institute. Abram Eidlin later Emigrated to the United States.

Ilya Isaakovich Stebun (1911 – 2005) – Famous literary critic.

Holocaust mass graves

– Old prison

Monument located at Lenin Steet, near the old prison building. There is a marble plate on the stone memorial about 50 cm high. “Here lie buried 78 residents of the town of Horodnia, who were killed by the German fascist invaders in the years 1941-1945”.

New monument:

Old monument on same place:


– khutor Aleshkinskoe

Monument is located on the northern outskirts of khutor Aleshkinskoe, 5 km to the centre of Horodnia. At this place in October 24, 1941 were killed 49 Jews.

Mass grave near Aleshkinskoe

Mass grave near Aleshkinskoe

Information was taken from pages Lo-Tishkah web site here and here.

Jewish cemetery

There were two Jewish cemeteries in the town, but the location of the older one is unknown; it was destroyed in the first half of the 20th century.

Cemetery was established in first half of the 19th century. It is located on the southern outskirts of the town in Chernousa Street, on the right of the Horodnia – Chernihiv road.

The cemetery is partly surrounded with an old wooden fence. The rest of the territory is separated with trees and bushes.

Date of the oldest known gravestone is 1932. Current Size & Measurement Unit:  21,600 meters

At the cemetery there is a mass grave of pogrom victims from the nearby villages of Ivashkovka, Tupichev and Khripovka killed by White soldiers in 1920. The Whites were prevented from entering Horodnia itself by self-defense units of Jewish and Russian youth.

Iosef Davidovich Asbel (1924-2000) cleaned up and took care of this cemetery. After his death Nelya Havko performed same duty.

My photos from the trip in 2020:

Lo-Tishkach photos:

Information taken from Lo-Tishkach web-site and



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