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Krivoye Ozero

Krivoye Ozero

Krivoye Ozero is an urban type village founded in the 18th century. It is located on the banks of the Kodyma River and holds a long history of both vibrant and tragic Jewish life.

Since the 1970s, the village became the district centre of the Nikolayev region, having previously belonged to the Odessa region.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Chumaky Way, a trade road through which products from Southern Ukraine were delivered to the center, laid across Krivoye Ozero, including during the time of the Russian Empire. In the late 19th to early 20th centuries, the village became part of the Balta Uyezd (Podolia Gubernia).

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Jewish life in Krivoye Ozero came about parallel to the founding of the village in 1762. Almost a century later, there were three functioning synagogues. In 1896, five years after a pogrom took place, Nokhum Zeyev Tabachnik became the village rabbi.

Family of Mordek and Feiga Anchipolovsky, Krivoe Ozero 1910's. Feiga Anchipolovsky died before the WWII in age of 98.

Family of Mordek and Feiga Anchipolovsky, Krivoe Ozero 1910’s. Feiga Anchipolovsky died before the WWII in age of 98.

However, it was in 1905 after a wave of pogroms in neighboring villages that Jews began to settle more in Krivoye Ozero, leading to the rapid development of shtetl life. By 1910, there were six synagogues, one Jewish cemetery and a private Jewish college. Two years later, a Jewish savings and credit society was organized.

In 1914, Leyba Eyzelevich Lemberg became the official rabbi of the shtetl.

Stamp and signature of the Krivoye Ozero's rabbi on the metric record, 1914

Stamp and signature of the Krivoye Ozero’s rabbi on the metric record, 1914

During this time, the main occupations of the Jewish population were craft and trade. Jewish owners also operated:
three drug stores, one inn, ten forest warehouses, two creameries, 23 stalls, 33 manufactories.

Krivoye Ozero entrepreneurs list  from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913:

Amongst the Jewish population there were:
two doctors, a jeweler, 20 blacksmiths, 20 carpenters, nine tinsmiths, twelve glaziers, 60 cobblers, 100 employees in 10 different creameries.

Jewish population of Krivoye Ozero:
1847 — 1116 Jews
1897 — 5478 (70%)
1923 — 3939 Jews
1939 — 1447 Jews
1997 – 17 Jews
2002 – 6 Jews
2018 – 0

From December 1919, a pogrom committed by detachments of a volunteer army lasted several weeks. As a result Jewish homes, warehouses and shops were looted and destroyed. The number of deaths is unsure. While some sources claim 280, others claim that approximately 600 Jews were killed, and hundreds were wounded. Many Jews fleeing the pogrom froze to their death in the harsh winter conditions.
Another pogrom was committed by Denikin’s soldiers. They killed hundreds of men on their way to Shabbat prayer on a Friday evening. The next pogrom was committed by Petliura’s people, who killed anyone who came into their sight. This led to over 80 Jewish families taking refuge in Odessa.
Consequently, a Jewish self defence league was organized in the 1920’s. Around the same time, a society founded in the USA assisted a Jewish agricultural community near Krivoye Ozero.

Old PreRevolution in the center of Krivoye Ozero:

Full description of Civil War’s pogroms can be found here (in Russian).

List of the Jews who suffered during the pogroms in Krivoye Ozero (original list can be found here):

During the Holodomor of 1932-1933, more than one thousand Jewish residents died in the shtetl. It is said that at the end of the Holodomor there were no living cats or dogs in the village; they were eaten by starving and dying residents.

Jewish orchestra in Krivoye Ozero, 1920's-1930's. Photo from local museum

Jewish orchestra in Krivoye Ozero, 1920’s-1930’s. Photo from local museum

The majority of the teachers who taught in the Jewish school were repressed by Stalin’s regime after the doors of the school shut in the 1930’s. In a 1994 interview, third generation and life long Krivoye Ozero resident Aleksandr Anchipolovsky (1934-2008) recalled the last name of only one teacher: Misherovsky.

A two storied building of the central synagogue of Krivoye Ozero was closed in the 1930’s, was heavily affected during the war and alas destroyed in the 1950’s. A man named Shloymele was the last “gabai,” assistant to the rabbi.

In 1939, 12,745 Jews (6.45% of the population) lived in Krivoye Ozero.


In June 1941, the USSR entered World War II. Two months later, on August 14th, Wehrmacht detachments occupied Krivoye Ozero. Two weeks later, they rounded up 45 Jewish men in the agronomic school (previously a synagogue) and led them to behind the hospital where they were all shot. Soon all the village Jews were ordered to register at the commander’s office. The Jewish residents were obliged to wear a sleeve band with a Star of David.
A ghetto was organized on the grounds of the agronomic school. There, Jews were forced to work. However, the ghetto was fenced but not heavily guarded, making it somewhat easy to escape.

On October 14th, the German occupiers gathered surviving Jews near the building of a former synagogue where they were informed that they would be resettled. The Jews were lined up and escorted to a mine in a field surrounded by Nazi police and dogs. It was located near Vradievka. The Jews were forced to undress and bathe in the dirty puddle at the bottom of the pit. After the forced bathing, the Jews were led in groups of 10-15 people to the edge of the pit and shot, their dead bodies falling in. Children were thrown alive into the pit. The next day, almost 3,000 people were shot into this pit. The shooting was ordered by Higher SS and Police Leader of Central Russia command Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski. Company 314 of the police battalion and local Ukrainian police also participated. Pits quickly turned into mass graves.

Holocaust memorial near Vradievka

Holocaust memorial near Vradievka

Holocaust memorial near Vradievka

Memorial near Vradievka which was vandalized in 2019

During this time, several local Jews participated in underground activity as part of the patriotic group of T. Petrichenko in Krivoye Ozero. Anna Polischuk and Klavdiya Rozina were some of the members that took part in sabotages, robberies of weapons, leaflet distributions and summary reporting to the Soviet Information Bureau. They were both awarded with medals of merits after the war ended.

The majority of Krivoye Ozero’s Jews died during the German occupation of the village. After the territory was handed to the Romanian troops, mass killings came to an end. It was also possible to bribe the Romanian authorities. However, during this time, local police posed the greatest danger. One of local police officers nicknames was Todik, and he was known to be a real sadist. He alone killed more than one dozen Jews in hiding. Todik was caught in Odessa after the war ended and was judged but not hung. He returned to Krivoye Ozero in 1953 and was killed by the surviving sons of a murdered Jewish couple. Another story involved a tailor with the last name Shlakman who sewed clothes for the Romanian authorities. They later arrested him on charge for sewing clothes for the partisans. Shlakman was judged in Tiraspol and shot. His family escaped to the village of Mazurovo and survived the war.

Of the people who were saved by local and neighboring villagers, some information:
The Davidzon family escaped to Lukanovka village, and was saved there
Local Ukrainian resident Tosia Belinskaya rescued Genia Shlakman and Etlia Melamud
The Mechetner family was also saved by local Ukrainians
Girgoriy Tsybulko hid and saved the family of Yuriy Oyberman

Out of the local Krivoye Ozero Jews who were driven to Domanevka, a nearby village, only 20 people survived. Luba Slobiker was one of them. Krivoye Ozero was liberated on September 29th 1943.

The bodies of the shooting victims near the hospital in 1941 were reburied in the Jewish cemetery soon after the war. Although the bodies started to decompose, some could still be identified. Melamud, Kupershmit, Kuperberg and Anchipolovsky men did the reburrying. There were four non-Jews found in the graves, suspected to be Romanian refugees.

After 1945

After the war, many surviving Jews returned from evacuation to their former shtetls. In Krivoye Ozero the survivors re-settled mostly in the center; on May 1st, Mayakovsky and Shevchenko streets. Religious life also renewed. The Ukrainian family Timokh saved a Torah scroll, shofar and some Siddur prayer books, which surviving Jews began to use again.

Jewish youth eventually started to leave Krivoye Ozero for Odessa, Nikolayev and other big cities in order to study and find work opportunities. After a while, the parents of the youth would join them, and the amount of Jews in Krivoye Ozero slowly started to reduce.

Religious Jews would gather in the home (and former inn) of the Anchipolovsky family. A rabbi from Savran would come to the shtetl to lead the prayers. The shtetl also had its own shoykhet. Krivoye Ozero resident Yankel Melamud became the unofficial rabbi thanks to his knowledge of ancient Hebrew and his Torah reading abilities. The last gathering for prayer happened right before Yankel’s death in the 1980s; after that no one in the village knew how to read Hebrew.

Although there were more than ten synagogues in Krivoye Ozero, little information about the buildings is known and available. During the Soviet period one of the buildings of a former synagogue became a gym, then a school and finally a bank. In the 1990’s, Aleksandr Anchipolovsky was offered to take this building for the community but he could not accept due to the lack of financing available to maintain it. Today it is the House of Children’s Creativity.

Former synagogue in Krivoye Ozero

Former synagogue in Krivoye Ozero

In the 1990’s, Aleksandr Anchipolovsky encouraged the revival of the small Jewish community and used his home for Shabbat and holiday gatherings. The people who attended were mostly elderly, some of their last names were Polur, Pekar, Aptekar, Shor, Goykhman and Slobidker. The chief rabbi of Nikolayev region Sholom Gottlib greatly helped the community. Aleksandr’s wife Gretta Abramovna Anchipolovsky (1942-2014) dedicated lots of time and effort into helping the establishment of the monument for the massacre of over 7,000 Krivoye Ozero Jews. Aleksandr himself was a very honorable resident of the village. He had worked at a food factory for many years and was a member of the inventors and innovators’ movement. During the Soviet times, he was worked as a roofer. Some local authorities asked him to take down crosses from churches but he refused despite the threats. Aleksandr found and preserved a rare icon, and was offered 5,000 soviet rubles for it. When the Orthodox church had reopened many years later in the village, he donated the icon to the priests.

A New York resident with the last name Uchitel made a donation to the head of the village council for the building of a memorial following his visit in the 1990s. The monument is located in the Jewish cemetery of Krivoye Ozero. A large Menorah stands with the names of killed residents listed on the bottom, and a figure of a mourning woman weeps alongside it.

After Aleksandr’s death in 2008, the few remaining members of the community no longer gathered, and his widow Gretta left for Israel to join their children. The last known Jew of Krivoye Ozero was Grigoriy Pekar who passed away in 2015.

Aleksandr Anchipolovsky (1934-2008) with his wife Gretta (1942-2014) during interview for Shoa Foundation, 1994

Aleksandr Anchipolovsky (1934-2008) with his wife Gretta (1942-2014) during interview for Shoa Foundation, 1994

Interview of Aleksandr Anchipolovsky for Shoa Foundation, 1994. Some information in this interview needs to be double-checked (Alexander was evacuated during WWII and wasn’t Holocaust witness):

Opening of the memorial in Vradievka

House of Aleksandr Anchipolovsky

Aleksandr inherited and owned the oldest house in Krivoye Ozero, a representation of Jewish history of the village. It was built originally as an inn by his grandfather Mordechai Anchipolovsky in the 19th century. The house stopped being an inn in the early 20th century when the Anchipolovsky family began fishing in the lakes around Krivoye Ozero. A stable was also built near the inn.

In the 1960’s, Aleksandr built a new home on the grounds, keeping half of the original inn intact. Today, nobody lives in the historic home, but the Anchipolovsky fishing gear can still be found there. Aleksandr’s wife Gretta donated the scales used for fish to the local museum.

Jewish cemetery

Most tombstones from old part of the cemtery were stolen by local and there is an empty field.

Holocaust mass grave and memorial:

Another graves:




  1. My grandmother last name Littwak came from Krivazer to Philadelphia The family were members of the Krivozer burial society

  2. My family is from here!

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