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Makhnovka is a village in the Kazatinsky district of the Vinnitsa region, 12 kilometers from the Kazatin railway station. The population at the 2001 census was 3,467. A rather picturesque river Gnilopyat flows near the village. Before Revolution, Makhnovka was a shtetl of Berdichev uezd, Kiev gubernia.

From 1935 to 2016 – the village was called Komsomolskoye. In 2016, the historical name of Makhnovka was returned to the village.


Sergei Frenkel - author of major part of this article

Sergei Frenkel – author of major part of this article


Documentary references to Makhnovka have been known at least since the first half of the 17th century (according to some sources, even from 1611).

The town was the private property of the Tyshkevich magnates, whose ancestors received these lands in 1430 from the Lithuanian prince Svidrigailo, who owned this part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Together with Berdichev and other estates, it was inherited by the princes Radzivils. Anthony Pototsky took possession of part of Makhnovka at the beginning of the 17th century, and the other part was owned by the princes Radziwill. During this period, a stone castle and a Bernardine church were built.

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Then Makhnovka completely passed to the Pototskys. (There is a lot of information about Makhnovka’s history in the Polish Slownik geograficzny tom 875).

During the uprising of Bogdan Khmelnitsky of 1648-1654, a battle took place near Makhnovka in 1648 to seize its castle, during which the Cossacks of Maxim Krivonos defeated the detachment of Prince (originally Russian Orthodox) Yarema (Jeremiah) Vishnevetsky.

In 1767, Pyotr Potocki made it his residence, built a palace, brick buildings, and a Catholic church.

Anthony Protasy (Count Prot) Potocki (Antoni Protazy Potocki,) founded in Makhnovka “large cloth factories, factories of blankets, hats, stockings, ribbons, furniture, etc., started a printing house.” For frequent fairs, it was called “little Warsaw” and “stone Makhnovka”, since Count Prot built it up with stone buildings. Pototsky settled Dutch colonists between Makhnovka and Samgorodok, brought there cattle, Spanish sheep, etc.”

Following the results of the second partition of Poland (1793), Makhnovka, in the status of a county town, became part of the Bratslav province (from 1795 – Kiev province). She was given a coat of arms.

A printing house was founded in 1793. This printing house has its own interesting history. Suffice it to say that the famous Russian writer of the 19th century, Russian nationalist and fighter against the Old Believers (staroobryadtcy, i.e. supporters of the so-called “old” version of Russian Orthodoxy) Pavel Melnikov-Pechersk wrote in his “Essays on priesthood”. It was in connection with the Old Believers that he became interested in Makhnovka. The fact is that after the third partition of Poland, the Makhnov estates of Count Potocki, incl. printing house were confiscated. The printing house was under a contract in May 1801 leased to the Moscow merchant Seleznev. He gave a subscription not to print in it the forbidden St. Synod of “seductive books for the Old Believers”, but did not fulfill the promise and printed Old Believer publications in them. The all-powerful Count A.A. Arakcheev, who was in charge of the Ministry of Police, the St. Petersburg military governor-general Count S.K. Vyazmitinov, and many others were also involved in the investigation of the activities of the Makhnovist printing house.

Makhnovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Makhnovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

The Kiev civil governor reported on this case to the Minister of Police of the year. Thus, the small Polish-Jewish Makhnovka became the subject of the big politics of the Russian Empire!

In Makhnovka in the 20s of the XIX century. a noble district school was opened, and in 1830 a one-class parish school was opened. The Noble District School in 1835 was reorganized into the Noble Povitov (local ) School, and since the majority of the Makhnovist nobles were Poles, it was popularly called the “Polish School”.

In 1841, a huge fire broke out in Makhnovka, as a result of which most of the buildings in, only a few stone buildings remained, including the school. In 1845 Berdichev became the center of the county. Makhnovka lost its city status and became the volost center of the Makhnovskaya volost of the Berdichevsky district of the Kiev province “under the direct and closest supervision of the governor-general” (the volost is a small administrative rural division including several villages).

During the construction of railways (after 1860), the railway passed through Berdichev and Kazatin, but bypassing Makhnovka. This led to an even greater decline of Makhnovka.

In Makhnovka, by the end of the 19th century, only the memory and sayings remained about the Pototskys, such as “thank you to Brodsky for sugar, Pototsky for water, Vysotsky for tea.” But the memory is good – back in the 60s of the 20th century, one could hear from the old Makhnovists that Pototsky set up a pharmacy, a hospital and a school at his own expense. They also told about many other less bright but rather well-born representatives of the Polish gentry. For example, about the Mazarak family, whose descendants lived in Makhnovka until 1917. The ancestor of the Mazaraks, even before the second partition of Poland, was a county commissar in Makhnovka, they owned houses and estates. According to the charter, drawn up on June 29, 1862, in the town near Mazaraki, there were 199 peasants (56 peasant households). Men from this family, along with other Makhnovist Poles-nobles, participated in the uprising of 1831 (the Jews stubbornly called it the “Polish rebellion)”.

Of the other “rebellious” surnames, of which there was some kind of memory, Golembiovsky, Ganitsky.

A well-known Polish family in Makhnovka were the Liverskys. Before the revolution, they were known in the volost as excellent gardeners.

The last period of his life lived in Makhnovka and was buried (in 1871) Tomasz Padura, a Ukrainian-Polish poet, participant of the Decembrist movement (Southern Society) and the Polish uprisings (primarily in 1831). He said about himself: “Mickiewicz is a great poet, but who knows, but the whole of Poland and Ukraine sings me!”

Also V. Antonovitch (1834-1908), a well-known historian and ethnographer of Southwestern Russia also was born in Makhnovka. As well Padura, he was a visible figure of the Polish-Ukrainian movement “Hlopomaniy” (peasantophiles), as they said in the second half of the 19th century.

After the reform of 1961, Makhnovka again grew into a large settlement. In 1900, there were 709 households with 5,380 people living here, and had the entire set of administrative institutions befitting a volost center. Here was located a subdivision of the police of the Berdichevsky county, a volost government, a post and telegraph office with a savings bank, two doctors, a veterinarian, a forensic investigator, a parish school, a rural 2-class school.

There was a pharmacy and 2 drug stores, 29 grocery stores, two wine shops, 3 stores of timber warehouses, 2 haberdashery stores, a gramophone and records store.

In 1908-1914 in Makhnovka were 2 horse-driven cereal mills, 2 oil mills, a soap factory, and a semi-handicraft sausage factory were opened. (In the book “The entire South-West” 1913, publication of the South-Western Department of the Export Chamber Kiev).

Before the October Revolution

The first mention of Jews in Makhnovka dates back to 1611.

The next one was in 1648, both in the reports the Cossacks of Krivonos and the testimonies from the troops of Prince Vishnevetsky, which indicated that during the capture of the Makhnovist castle (fortress), Jews and Poles were killed.

More than 100 years later, in 1765, six Jewish families were registered in Makhnovka (presumably from that year’s tax census).

The vigorous economic activity of A. Pototsky required people versed in finance and trade, and he invited Jews from Berdichev to Makhnovka.

The law of 1804 prohibiting Jews from 1808 from maintaining and renting drinking establishments in the villages, as well as distilling and selling alcohol, led to the resettlement of the owners of such crafts in cities and towns. About the situation in the then Makhnovsky district, they give “1808. Census of the Jews of the Makhnovsky (Berdichevsky) district of the tenants of drinking establishments”, in “State archive of the Kiev region. Foundation 1, Inventory 336, File 882.

Old Jewish house on the Zhitomir-Vinnitsya road in Makhnovka

Old Jewish house on the Zhitomir-Vinnitsya road in Makhnovka

In the first half of the 19th century, many foreign citizens, mostly Austrians, lived in Makhnovka. Nearby was a settlement of German Mennonites and Czech colonists.

Not all Makhnovist Jews were pious enough. There is a known case when three local Jews pulled decorations out of the church ( Piatrovsky-Stein, The Golden Age Shtetl).

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia Brockhaus and Efron, according to the revision of 1847, the “Makhnov. Jewish society” consisted of 1,934 people.”

Volume 28 of the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1896) indicates data from the mid-80s of the 19th century: a town in the Kiev province, Berdichevsky district. Lives. 4389, yards 451; Orthodox 985, Catholics 299, Jews 3070, other confessions 35” .

According to the 1897 census, 2,435 Jews (about 45%) lived in the village of Makhnovka. out of a total population of 5343 []

The decrease in the number of Jews during this period is primarily due to the beginning of Jewish emigration after the pogroms of 1881 and a sharp deterioration in the position of Jews, especially the lower classes, caused by the anti-Jewish policy of Alexander III ( Visitors to the JewishGen resource usually report that their ancestors emigrated from Makhnovka in the period from the late XIX c. to 1913).

Although there was no noticeable pogrom movement in Berdichevsky district, the news of pogroms in Odessa, Elizavetgrad, Kiev, etc. had a strong effect on the Jews.

Emigration was mainly directed to America, England, Europe, and later to Argentina. I have heard about the Makhnovist Jews Guzlick (Makhnovka 1877), Goltman (Makhnovka 1858) well settled in Belgium ), and even about one coffee planter in Morocco.

However, speaking about the population quantity, one must understand that the majority of Jews lived in the center of the town, around the market square, and a significant part of Ukrainians lived on the outskirts, in the territory of villages that merged with the town itself as it grew, for example, the area called “Berezovka”. Therefore, in the “original” Makhnovka, Jews have always been the absolute majority.

The economic life of the Jews of Makhnovka differed little from other places in the South-West. In Makhnovka, as in any other Jewish town, there were many tailors – according to the statistics of the Kiev Province at the end of the 19th century, peasant dresses were sewn in Makhnovka for 3,000 rubles. There were many shoemakers. In total, according to the data of the Jewish Colonization Society, there were over 1,000 Jewish shoemakers and shoemakers in the Berdichev district.

Of the 29 grocers in Makhnovka in 1913, 27 were owned by Jews.

Almost all of the 30 manufactory shops belonged to Jews (the book “All the South-West” 1913, published by the South-Western Department of the Export Chamber Kiev). They owned

two liquor stores – Jews, 2 forest warehouses (out of 3) bakery, 2 haberdashery stores, the store of gramophones and records store.

There were many different contractors.

Among the administrative employees (post office, volost government, teachers of state schools, etc.), of course, there were no Jews, as prescribed by the laws of the Russian Empire.

There were no Jews among the three doctors who practiced in Makhnovka.

Among the Makhnovist wealthy Jews, the Chudnovsky clan was famous, who bought in 1870-1880 in Makhnovka several estates, for example, the estate (purchased at public auction) belonged to the Austrian citizen Ehlinger I. 1877-1880, and before the revolution they held both grocery and manufacturing trade. His grandchildren perished with their children during the German occupation.

The material situation and stratification in Makhnovka as a whole and among the Jews is evidenced by the document “Lists of persons eligible for election to the State Duma according to the 1st list of urban voters in 1912 from Makhnovka in the Berdichevsky district of the Kiev province”.

In order to get on this list, one had to have a certain property qualification (at least pay taxes as an artisan, and a tax for renting an apartment if one did not have one’s own house or part of it). This list included 63 Makhnovist Jews, 5 Russians (the concept of “Ukrainian” did not exist in Russian legislation), and 7 Poles. It is clear that many Poles belonged to the landowners, and “Russians” – to the peasants, and they went to other congresses. But out of several hundred Jewish families, only 63 had the necessary property qualification. The rest lived either in huts that did not have any significant value, or in rented housing, or had neither trade nor craft – “people of the air”.

All the Jewish boys and part of the girls studied with melameds in their private Cheders, in one of the rooms of the teacher’s apartment. The teacher, melamed, was paid by his parents. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was about 20 rubles a year – extremely small to ensure a decent life for melamed, who usually had 8-10 students. But everyone could became melameds, they had no special education (and according to the law of 1893 “On Heders and Melameds” it was not required).

For the children of the poor, whose parents were unable to pay tuition, there was a free Talmud Torah, which was supported by the Jewish community. Classes were held in the synagogue.

This synagogue looks like this today (currently there is a residential building for several families

This synagogue looks like this today (currently there is a residential building for several families

Usually, parents brought their child to melamed at the age of 5, and sometimes even earlier – at 4 or even 3 years. In the younger group, teaching began with an introduction to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. After that, the boy learned to read words and thus began to read prayers. However, the language of prayers (Hebrew) was not studied. Writing was not taught at all.

But all more or less wealthy Jewish families tried to give their children at least a primary secular education. It was either home schooling with some local “enlightened” Jew, or with the teachers of the two-class school located in Makhnovka (the building seems to have been preserved) with a five-year education (the so-called “ministerial school”, i.e. schools departments of the Ministry of Public Education).

After home schooling, which was necessary for a more or less fluent knowledge of the Russian language (including reading and writing), the boys could enter either the elementary school in Makhnovka (they, unlike secondary schools, did not have a “percentage norm” restriction for Jews), or they were sent to relatives in Berdichev, where they entered either the so-called. Jewish state schools (which existed until 1873, and were converted into Jewish two-year schools), or, for more rich families, in a gymnasium, a commercial school, in one of several private schools. But even in Berdichev itself, a city more prosperous than Makhnovka, according to the late 19th century. 90.6% of Jewish children remained out of school.

Poor families, after several years of study in a cheder, took their sons to teach craft or trade, so they did not really know the Russian language.

According to the 1897 census in the Berdichevsky district, literate (i.e., those who could read and write in Russian) among Jewish men were 35%, and among women – 15.5%.

Secular education was advocated by the members of the Bund (the General Jewish Workers’ Union in Russia, Poland and Lithuania), a revolutionary Marxist party that appeared at the end of the 19th century, a truly workers’ party in its composition.

In Makhnovka, the organization of the Bund arose with the help of agitators from Berdichev around 1899-1900. (“1905 in Berdichev, Notes and Memoirs”), after the Bund organizers arrived in Berdichev from Lithuania, where the Bund had existed since 1897. They helped to organize several successful strikes of Jewish fullers, tailors, shoemakers, and thereby made the Bund a popular organization both in Berdichev and in Makhnovka, whose inhabitants were closely connected with Berdichev.

During the First World War, he was mobilized into the army, then worked as a mechanic in Yuzovka, joined the Red Army against Whites and died in 1919.

The document of the police department notes that unrest among Jewish youth was observed in Makhnovka and other settlements and leaflets were distributed. The leaflets of the Bund were published in Yiddish, so that young people, whose training was limited to a few years in a cheder, also read them.

Jewish religious life in Makhnovka was largely associated with the name of the Hasidic dynasty Tversky (Makhnovker Rebbe). Their ancestor R. Menachem-Nakhum Tversky (Magid from Chernobyl) was one of the closest students and followers of the founder of Hasidism r. Israel Baal Shem Tov (Besht). The grandson of Menachem-Nochum, Yitzhak Tversky, founded the Hasidic “court” in the Ukrainian city of Skvir, and his son r. Yosef-Meir Tversky.

Mahnovker rebbes in the genealogy of Admorai Skvira

Mahnovker rebbes in the genealogy of Admorai Skvira

First Machnovker Rebbe:
R. Yosef Meyer Twersky Admur of Machnovka (1857, Skvira – 1917, Machnovka), son of (86.) R. Avraham Yehoshua Heschel Twersky Admur of Skvira.
Married: Basya Rivka Twersky daughter of (4.) R. Menachem Nachum Twersky Admur of Chernobyl.

Grave of R. Yosef Meyer Twersky in Makhnovka Jewish cemetery:


Grave of Basya Rivka Twersky in Makhnovka Jewish cemetery, 2020

Grave of Basya Rivka Twersky in Makhnovka Jewish cemetery, 2020

Second Machnovker Rebbe:
R. Menachem Nachum Twersky Admur of Skvira-Machnovka (1880, Skvira – 1946, N.Y.), son of (89.) R. David Twersky Admur of Skvira.
Married: 1) Malka Twersky daughter of (90.) R. Yosef Meyer Twersky Admur of Machnovka.
2) Batsheva Sfard daughter of R. Avraham Pinchas Sfard Admur of Kinyev.

Third Machnovker Rebbe:
R. Avraham Yehoshua Heschel Twersky Admur of Machnovka (1895, Skvira – 1987, Bnei Brak), son of (90.) R. Yosef Meyer Twersky Admur of Machnovka.
Married: Chava Baszion Twersky daughter of (66.) R. David Aaron Twersky Admur of Trisk-Zorek.

Forth Machnovker Rebbe:
R. Yehoshua Rokeach Admur of Machnovka (1949, Tel Aviv), son of R. Yitzchak David Rokeach.
Born: Tel Aviv, 21 Tevet 5709-1949.
Married: Chaya Gittel Michaelowitz daughter of R. Shalom Michaclowitz Admur of Brod.
Resides: Bnei Brak, Israel.

The Rebe Tversky was an important economic “resource” of Makhnovka, since his Hasidim from the Vinnitsa and Berdichev counties – Litin, Yanov, etc. (from Berdichev too, since the Makhnovist Jews constantly migrated there) went to him, which gave money to shops, taverns, inns, for artisans.

The Rebe died in 1917 and was succeeded by his son, r. Abraham-Yeshua, becoming the head of the Makhnovist Hasidim. This name became quite loud in the 30s, as will be discussed later.

Among the Makhnovist Jews, the memory of the times of the Law on the military service of the Jews of 1827 lived for a long time, according to which, during recruitment, 12-year-old boys were taken to cantonist schools, where they were forcibly baptized, and who, after school, served as soldiers for 17 years. In fact, none of them returned to the town. They remembered one very old general who came to the shtetl in the late 90s of the XIX century, and who was one of those Jewish boys.

After the abolition of this savage law, the Jews served under the Law on universal military service. Here is a photograph of a soldier from Makhnovka, Nuta Khaytsis, who served in the Crimea in the late 1870s:

Nuta Khaytsis, who served in the Crimea in the late 1870s

Nuta Khaytsis, who served in the Crimea in the late 1870s

Among the Jews of Makhnovka were participants in the Russo-Japanese War, including those captured in Port Arthur.

A large number of Makhnovist Jews died or went missing during the First World War. List can be found here.

Revolution and Civil War

With the beginning of the February Revolution of 1917, changes are gradually taking place in all aspects of life in Makhnovka. First of all, the power structure is changing. In March 1917, the position of a provincial commissar appeared in Kiev, subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and a county commissar subordinate to him in Berdichev. The position underwent some changes after the proclamation of the Second Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council, which subordinated the provincial commissars to the General Secretariat of Ukraine, and was abolished in April 1918 in connection with the establishment of the power of Hetman P. Skoropadsky.

The previously popular Bund partially lost its influence on Jewish workers and artisans, while in this environment the influence of the left-wing socialist Zionists Poalei Zion (“Workers of Zion”, created in the early 1900s) somewhat increased. This is connected both with the splits in the Bund into pro-Bolshevik and Social Democratic groups, and with the fact that after the actual collapse of the Russian Empire, the Bund’s slogans about the equality of Jewish workers in democratic (but “united and indivisible”) Russia became simply slurred. Although the Bund collaborated with the socialists in the Ukrainian Rada (Council), he was a supporter of the federation of Ukraine and Russia, which irritated the “conscious” Ukrainian peasants and rural intelligentsia. At the same time, unlike in 1905, the Bund objected to purely Jewish self-defense, considering it a manifestation of “Jewish nationalism” and spoke of interethnic armed structures, which was extremely problematic in the conditions of the Jewish pogroms that had begun. Paolei Zion, although not specifically focused on Ukrainian independence, collaborated with the Rada and the Directory, and at the same time was active in the creation of Jewish self-defense units.

Bolshevik influence among the Jewish poor was spread mainly by Jewish soldiers returning from the front.

After the October Revolution in Petrograd and the proclamation of the independent from Russia Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR), an era of events poorly managed from the Center (be it Petrograd, Moscow or Kiev) began, which continued until 1921.

Already in January-February 1918, the Berdichev-Kazatin region, where Makhnovka also fell, became a battlefield between the troops of the adventurer and bloody fanatic Mikhail Muravyov, acting on behalf of the Bolshevik Petrograd Council of People’s Commissars, and detachments of the newly proclaimed Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR). The drama of the events was also created by the fact that the headquarters of the Southwestern Front of the decaying Russian army was located nearby in Berdichev, and a fierce struggle unfolded for the capture of its institutions and warehouses.

February 1918 – the race between the UNR and the Bolsheviks for the capture of Berdichev before the Germans approached (who entered Ukraine according to the Brest Peace). The Ukrainian Zaporozhye brigade of a thousand fighters tried to dislodge from Berdichev a detachment of the famous Red commander Vasily Kikvidze (by the way, not a Bolshevik, but a Left Social Revolutionary), but was defeated. The Kikvidze detachment consisted of Bolshevik-supporting soldiers from the Russian Southwestern Front of the First World War. Further, the Reds fought between Berdichev and Kazatin with a detachment of the well-known UNR Colonel Bolbochan. This war ended with the approach of the Germans, since both of them did not want to face the German army.

Such a fighting neighborhood could not but affect Makhnovka. With the arrival of the Germans in Ukraine (under an agreement with the Central Rada), the administrative confusion intensified. In addition to the Germans and the commissars of the Central Rada, the former local authorities also acted. The Germans were only interested in the supply of food and raw materials (leather, wool). Engaged in this so-called. “commodity centrals”. There was such a central office in Berdichev, and it had to agree, among other things, on deliveries (through purchases) from the Makhnovskaya volost. But only peasant production was not enough, and therefore the Germans demanded to sow empty landowners’ lands, which the peasants perceived as the beginning of a return to landownership. There were plenty of weapons in the villages – the soldiers of the First World War who were leaving the front brought them, and armed clashes with the Germans and representatives of the Ukrainian authorities began, which became a source of constant danger for Makhnovka.

The Central Rada, and then the government of the UNR, established various forms of Jewish self-management: Jewish public councils, local Jewish councils, which were to be coordinated by the Jewish National Secretariat and the Ministry of Jewish Affairs in the government of the UNR. In particular, they were supposed to open Jewish schools, for which some subsidies were allocated.

According to eyewitnesses (Avraham Khazin – more will be said about him later), there was an attempt to open a school with instruction in Hebrew, organized by the Tarbut (“Culture”) society.

A pogrom wave began to approach Makhnovka after the departure of the Germans and the restoration of the power of the Ukrainian Directory of UNR.

During this period, a series of continuous changes of power begins. In February 1919, the Reds began their attack on Kiev, from which on February 14 they knocked out the government of the Petliura Directory. At the beginning of March 1919, the Soviet troops of the 1st Soviet division knocked out the troops of the Directory from Kazatin, Berdichev. Heavy fighting with the active use of artillery went around Makhnovka, and on March 14, 1919, the 9th rifle regiment of the special rifle brigade of the Red Army was located in Makhnovka. The soldiers were looting.

Further, on March 26, the Petliurists again take them to Berdichev, but on April 13, Soviet troops again knock them out of the city.

In May 1919, a new trouble appeared – an uprising in the Red troops by commandment of Grigoriev, who declared himself a free ataman and a fighter for “Soviets without Jews and Communists.” Grigorievtsy and thousands of villagers who joined them launched an offensive from the south of Ukraine to Kiev, arranging wild Jewish pogroms along the way with thousands killed, maimed, raped.

The Soviet Nezhinsky regiment in neighboring Kazatin went over to Grigoriev’s side, which shocked Makhnovka. The Bolsheviks, the Bund and Paolei Zion announced a party mobilization, and many young Jews joined the detachments that blocked the movement of the Grigorievites. One of them were the dead Loshak brothers (their whole family was subsequently killed in 1941 during the German occupation – they are present in the list of executed Jews).

But regardless of what kind of power was called, the entire period from March 1917 to the end of 1921. in the memoirs of the Makhnovites, it was simply called “anarchy”. There was no mention of Ukrainian statehood of this period – all the leaders of that time were perceived (perhaps due to temporary parallax and the background of Soviet propaganda) as “atamans” who came from nowhere, and in this sense Skoropadsky and Petliura did not differ much from some Struk, Sokolov or Maruska Nikiforova.

In total, during the civil war, power in Makhnovka, as in the entire region, changed about 14 times. Denikin’s, Reds, Petliurists, Galicians (the army of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR)) visited here. But before the arrival of the Poles in 1920, somehow the town managed to avoid bloody pogroms. There were mainly attacks by small gangs from the surrounding and distant villages.

In the second half of 1919, Denikin’s men first stood in Makhnovka, who wanted to drive Petlyura out of Berdichev, which, in turn, was approached by the Reds. But at that time, the Galicians, who had previously served under Petliura, unexpectedly joined Denikin’s troops. They were stationed in Brodetsky (2 kilometers from Makhnovka), and then moved to Makhnovka. They say they didn’t particularly smash, and among them there were even Jewish officers.

However, the Galicians were ready to fight only against the Reds, and not against the Ukrainians, and when Berdichev had Petliurists against them, they left the front. The Petliurists, before leaving Berdichev, staged a wild pogrom there (according to some documents, it was December 8-10) and surrendered the city to the Reds.

In late February-early March, Kazatin literally for a day captured Ataman Struk band, one of the most vile and bloody bandits of the Civil War (according to the reviews of both White, Red, and Petliura memoirists), which breaking through from Bessarabia (where he fled from Odessa occupied by the Reds) to his Chernobyl fiefdom, so he passed a little away from Makhnovka.

April 26, 1920 Poles and Petliurists came, who were in Makhnovka until June 15, 1920. On June 15, according to the memoirs, the Poles literally fled through Makhnovka, throwing ammunition and ammunition. But before that, together with the UNR troops, they staged a pogrom with a large number of dead. Unlike hundreds of other cities and towns in Ukraine, this was the only major pogrom in Makhnovka.

In many ways, the pogroms of small gangs were prevented thanks to Jewish self-defense.

Self-defense was created by young Jews who returned from the First World War, members of the Bund and Paolei Zion, and maintained at least some order, because between the arrivals of large military formations during the hostilities, there was no power at all in the town. Self-defense had dozens of rifles at its disposal. There is a known case when a gang from the village of Plyakhova, about a dozen guys on horseback rode to Makhnovka and broke into a house on the outskirts, where two Jewish orphans girls lived. The neighbors heard a scream, ran after the self-defenders (as the old-timers called them back in the 70s of the 20th century), they surrounded the house, took away the horses, tied the guys, beat with the reins, and let them go. The horses were returned later.

Haikel Shturman, Makhnovka beginning of XX century. Photo from collection of Judaica Institute, Kiev.

Haikel Shturman, Makhnovka beginning of XX century. Photo from collection of Judaica Institute, Kiev.

Although the Polish army left in the summer of 1920, and there were no more battles of units of more or less regular armies, for the population of Makhnovka and the entire Berdichev district, the bloody nightmare of the Civil War continued for at least another year. In the county, the most terrible pogroms during this period were staged by the red units of the 6th Red Cavalry Division of the First Cavalry Army of Budeyny (Буденный), when in October 1920 it was redeployed from the Polish front (from near Rovno) to the Northern Tavria against Whites. There were brutal pogroms in the shtetls Samgorodok, Vakhnovka, Pogrebishche, and Spicheny. Many dozens of people were killed, hundreds of women, girls and even girls were raped. This is stated both in the protocols of the subsection of assistance to the pogromized Jews under the People’s Commissariat for Social Security of the Ukrainian SSR, and in the Report of the Extraordinary Investigation Commission to the Revolutionary Military Council of the 1st Cavalry Army. This disaster did not pass through Makhnovka, since only individual rear units of the Cavalry passed through it. However, until the autumn of 1921, there were attacks by small detachments, consisting of the surrounding peasants, deserters from all armies, and city punks. The local authorities, represented until the spring of 1921 by the revolutionary committee, had no units to protect the population, but could only report to the Berdichev or Kiev NKVD of the Soviet Ukraine, which sometimes sent armed detachments to round up bandits. At the same time, news constantly came of uprisings against food reconnaissance and mobilization to the Red Army from neighboring counties, which paralyzed the will of local chiefs. The protection of the inhabitants was carried out only by a self-defense detachment.

Between Wars

Compared to hundreds of other Jewish shtetls and towns in Ukraine, Makhnovka emerged from the Civil War with significantly fewer losses from pogroms and vandalism.

It is not on the lists of Evobshchestkom (Jewish Public Committee for Assistance to Victims of Pogroms) and EVPO (Jewish Society for Assistance to Victims of Pogroms and War) as a settlement whose population needs emergency assistance.

However, due to the severe economic disruption, the outflow of the Jewish population continued, since trade was almost completely stopped, the number of customers for manufacturers, tailors, and shoemakers is falling sharply – the population walks in altered uniforms and overcoats from the warehouses of the tsarist army, from English cloth of the so-called Volunteer Army of the Whites (“Denikin’s”)”, Polish overcoats abandoned during the flight. A significant number of intermediaries remain without income, who had no profession other than information of sellers and buyers, for the most part it does not matter what.

Joiners, locksmiths, blacksmiths, chariot workers, coopers have some orders. those who can work with local raw materials or work on existing metal. There were a little more than 50 such people in Makhnovka in the mid-twenties. Cattle slaughterers (slaughterers), brewers could have some income. Someone made soap.

Part of the artisans (tailors, carpenters, etc.) began to go to work in the villages, despite the danger of stumbling into small bands that kill Jews.

In the early 1920s, there was still the opportunity to go abroad, mostly through the nearby Polish (in Volyn) or Romanian (in Bessarabia) borders with the help of smugglers. Some left legally, but for this it was necessary to go to Kiev or Moscow for documents, which required a certain income. A family is known that left Makhnovka for Mexico in 1922 (a certain Beyla with her husband and children). But the main flow of migrants rushed to Kiev and Moscow, where they could more easily find a job. Emigration to America became almost impossible in 1924 when the Reed-Johnson Act was passed to restrict emigration to America. Some left for Palestine. Some left for the Crimean Jewish collective far ms.

As a result, by 1925, 1,575 Jews remained in Makhnovka. I must say that a certain part of the Poles also left for Poland (for example, the Liversky family).

An important condition for the survival of the Jews was the help of foreign Jewish public organizations, as well as parcels and money transfers from relatives from abroad, mainly from the United States.

Traditional Jewish life continued in the early 1920s, children in most families (except for families of ideological Bolsheviks, Bundists and Socialist Zionists (Paolei Zion)) were given to heder. The court of the Makhnovist Rebbe continued to function, and Hasidim traveled to him from all over the Berdichev district and neighbouring districts.

After the final establishment of Soviet power, the Hebrew school was closed, which had existed for less than a year under the “Ukrainian State” and the “UNR”, but around 1921 a Jewish school was opened with teaching in Yiddish, the so-called “evtrudshkola”. A seven-year Ukrainian school opened in Makhnovka in 1920, but only 48 children studied in it (by 1923 there were already 128 of them).

Motl Faer family with Makhnovka 1920's-1930's. Kids are Leva, Usher, Dudi and Avrum.

Motl Faer family with Makhnovka 1920’s-1930’s. Kids are Leva, Usher, Dudi and Avrum.

In Makhnovka, as in dozens of other places in Ukraine, in addition to the volost (and then district) Council of Deputies, a Jewish village council was created, where office work was carried out in Yiddish .. All this was carried out under the guidance of the so-called Jewish Sections of communist party committees created in 1921 , including the Communist Party of Ukraine (“Evsections”). The goal was to spread the official party ideology among the Jewish lower classes, who had little command of Russian or Ukrainian.

Evsections were also supposed to be some kind of gateway for members of the Jewish socialist parties (Bund, the left faction of Poalei Zion), not yet officially banned by the Soviet authorities, to join the ranks of the main composition of the Communist Party. And indeed, according to the memoirs in Makhnovka, the Evsections activists were mainly “left” Bundists (called KomFarband – “Communist Bund”).

The Jewish sections actually supervised the work of both the Jewish school and the village council. Accordingly, they fought fiercely against the Zionists, whom the Bund had regarded as the main ideological enemies since the rise of the Zionist movement, and against Judaism, and eradicated Hebrew from schools and cultural life. For example, Evsection was against the creation of an agricultural commune on a part of the empty land of one of the Polish landowners by the Zionist organization “Hehalutz” (The Pioneer). For some time Evsection managed to do this. Evsection sought the liquidation of the Poalei Zion organization (which became known as the Jewish Communist Party (EKP) ), despite the fact that officially the Zionist-Socialists legally operated until about 1926, although they were persecuted at the local level (mass arrests in Berdichev in 1922). Old Makhnowits Jews remembered that the confrontation between “Soviet[”, “Zionist” and “clerical” sentiments took place in the Jewish environment itself, between different groups of the population. For example, it was said that a draper from the “Zionist Party” never recommended a small-town tailor whose son was an active member of the Komsomol to a buyer from the village, and similar conflicts.

From the protocols of the meetings of the “Evburo of the Makhnovsky District Party Committee” (PartArkhiv of the Zhytomyr Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CP(b)U)) preserved in the Zhytomyr Regional archive, it can be seen how the topics of closing Cheders (1924) were actively discussed, the organization of the so-called. “Red Saturdays” instead of traditional Jewish Shabbat (“shobes” in the local dialect of Yiddish), associations of Jewish artisans-individuals (“handicraftsmen)” in an artel (in total, 75 Jewish handicraftsmen remained in Makhnovka at that time). There were many meetings to distribute the party press in Yiddish (Berdichev’s “Der Arbeiter”, Moscow’s “Der Emes” (“Pravda”, in translation from Yiddish)).

In the fight against Judaism, the Makhnov Rebbe was, of course, an important object of the Evsection efforts. He was expelled from his home, his “school”, the so-called. Besmedresh” (Beit Midrash in the “correct” Hebrew), located near his house and the synagogue, was closed. However, until about 1929-1930, when the persecution of the fight against religion became official policy in the Soviet Union, he was perhaps the only Hasidic preacher (“Admor”) in the USSR (after Lubavicher Rebbe Shneerson was arrested) who was openly engaged in his activities. In 1932, fearing arrest, he left for Moscow, where he settled in Cherkizovo and, working as a tailor, performed rabbinic functions for hundreds of believers. After World War II, he was invited by the Soviet authorities to the post of Chief Rabbi of the Soviet Union. His refusal to accept this post led to him being exiled to Siberia. In 1965 he received permission to leave the Soviet Union and emigrated to Bnei Brak, Israel.

Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel Twersky 3d Admur of Machnovka (1895, Skvira – 1987, Bnei Brak)

The synagogue was closed, but there was a prayer house (and some melameds kept their cheders semi-underground.

Evsections were liquidated (1930), as having fulfilled their functions, and punitive bodies were engaged in repressions against all those who did not fit into political and cultural life on a professional basis (Most of the activists of Evsektsii perished during the Great Terror in 1937-1939).

The Jewish school (“7-year- school”) and the Jewish village council were liquidated in the 1936.

By the mid-1920s, with the development of the NEP (“New Economical Politics ” of Bolsheviks), life was gradually getting better.

In 1922, 5 privately owned horse-driven groats, 3 oil mills and 4 mechanical mills were put into operation again in Makhnovka. At the same time, state agricultural enterprises were also created. On the former landlords’ lands, 2 state farms arose – a grain farm and a fruit nursery. Many Jews also worked on state farms. In 1934, a 10-year secondary Ukrainian school was opened.

However, the collapse of the NEP in 1928-1929 ruined a significant part of the merchants and artisans, and these people, who were also deprived of most of their social rights as “elements alien to the proletariat” (“disenfranchised”), left from Makhnovka to the large cities. The youth from poor families also went to study in the large cities .

Tefillin of Naum Abramovich Belsky. In 1990's, owned by his daughter Polina

Tefillin of Naum Abramovich Belsky. In 1990’s, owned by his daughter Polina

Makhnovka, like the whole of Ukraine, was affected by the terrible famine of the early thirties. Many local Jews also died of starvation, who did not have a permanent income in various structures associated with the state (state farms, the Machine and Tractor Station (MTS), schools, a district hospital, all sorts of district administrative and party structures). Avrum M. Khazin, drafted into the Red Army in 1932, ecalled that his father, a handicraft tailor, died of starvation. When Avrum arrived at the funeral from Kiev, he walked from Kazatin, wolves howled around, which had never happened before – all living creatures in the surrounding sparse forests was destroyed by starving people.

In 1937, the repressions affected many Makhnovist Poles, in particular teachers, former employees, and people from the nobility. Religious Jews rendered all possible assistance to their families.

In 1935, Makhnovka was renamed into the village of Komsomolskoye, and was the regional center of the Komsomolsk region of the Ukrainian SSR.


By 1939, 843 Jews remained in Makhnovka.

The Germans occupied Makhnovka on July 14, 1941.

According to various sources, no more than three Jewish families of local chiefs were evacuated, and several dozen people did military service or were drafted into the army after the start of the war. Attempts at unauthorized evacuation were actively hindered by the Soviet authorities, threatening with accusations of “sowing panic” (It is interesting that, at the same time, in post-war reports it is emphasized that “about 1500 heads of cattle, several hundred horses, the most valuable equipment were evacuated.!”

After the occupation, the commandant’s office and the German gendarmerie were organized (chief Kubitz, assistants Schneider and Kriste) and the local auxiliary police, where more than 40 local Ukrainians and Poles (chief Zhelekhovsky) entered to serve.

Jewish houses in Mahnovka. Photo of unknown German soldier, 1942

Jewish houses in Mahnovka. Photo of unknown German soldier, 1942

Lists of Jews immediately began to be drawn up, both according to the documents left in Soviet institutions, and according to the “tips” of some local residents. The Jews were forced to sew yellow pieces of cloth on their shoulders and chests, and were constantly sent to forced labor. for the most part completely meaningless, for example, they harnessed instead horses to carts with barrels of water. According to one of the surviving Jews, Motl Faer, in early September, a large German detachment arrived in the village of Brodetskoye, about 2 km from Makhnovka (more than 100 soldiers, they also talked about three hundred soldiers). A few days later they moved to Makhnovka and the beatings and bullying began. There were cases of rape.

Approximately on September 8-9, all Jews were ordered to pack valuable things, materials, tools for the “resettlement” scheduled for September 10. Early in the morning of September 10, the whole place was cordoned off by soldiers, the police and the Germans began to walk around the houses indicated in the lists, ordered them to leave the houses with packed things and go to the building of the former butter factory. Trucks drove around the town, into which things taken from the Jews were thrown. At the oil refinery, men were separated from children and women, women were ordered to remove and hand over all jewelry, otherwise they would be shot. Trucks were brought to the butter plant to load people, but just before leaving the commandant’s office, a police officer Pavlivsky came and said to leave 12 specialists – a cooper (Motl Faer), a glazier, two blacksmiths, and a carpenter (Naum Belsky), etc., and more 5 women for chores. They were taken to a makeshift camp set up in the house of a former Jewish school.

Jewish houses in Mahnovka. Photo of unknown German soldier, 1942

Jewish houses in Mahnovka. Photo of unknown German soldier, 1942


One woman with a three-year-old son was also released. It happened like this. The boy suddenly asked loudly in Ukrainian where we were going. This was heard by one of the policemen, who did not know this woman (she was a teacher Maria Milman, recently sent to work in a local school) and asked what they were doing here among the Jews. She replied that apparently they were here by mistake, and the policeman ordered them to leave immediately. She and her son went to a local resident, Pavlina Moiseevna Stolyarchuk, and then managed to escape.

The rest of the men and women were loaded into cars. In the forest, 5 km from Komsomolskoye, near the village of Zhezhelevo, 3 large pits were dug. The Germans shot, and the police stood in a continuous cordon around the execution pits. After the execution, their task was to fill in the holes. The total number of those shot that day is not known exactly, but no less than 800 people.

The remaining 17 people, with about 80 more Jews and half-Jews from the surrounding villages, were placed in the building of the former Jewish school, fenced with barbed wire. Also in this mini-camp was a girl, Polina Faer (by her husband Belskaya), the daughter of one of the abandoned artisans, the cooper Motl Faer, who got out of the execution pit, was seen by a policeman from the cordon, and taken to her father in the camp. Jews went to work without guards, with yellow strips sewn on their chests and shoulders, but in the evening they had to be inspected. They were forbidden to buy anything in the town. It was impossible to escape, since everyone was warned that in this case all the other prisoners would be shot. Polina Faer was not registered and lived in the camp illegally (in a pit in the yard).

This group of Jews, except for 12 artisans and a woman (Frida Mezheritcher), as well Polina Faer-Belskaya, who, without being registered, was able to escape, was shot on August 8, 1942 in a pit near the field of the “Peremoga” collective farm.

The rest were supposed to be shot on December 13, 1942, but they were warned about the impending execution by one of the policemen named Melnik and tried to escape. At the same time, three people were able to escape – Motl Fire, Naum Belsky and Frida Mezhericher. The rest were caught and after terrible bullying were killed. These victims were reburied to Jewish cemetery in 1950’s. There were 14-15 victims who were reburied in 10 coffins. 

Makhnovka was liberated by units of the Soviet Army on January 7, 1944.

In total, 7 Jews were saved in Makhnovka. One of the rescuers, Alexandra Zavalnaya, who saved Frida Mezhericher, was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

Currently, Yad Vashem is considering the issue of conferring the title of Righteous Pavlina Moiseevna Stolyarchuk, who hid a woman with a 3-year-old son for more than a month, who issued false documents to them, and when it became known about a denunciation by one of the residents of the town to the local police, she was able to help them escape from Makhnovra. Maria, overcoming incredible difficulties and dangers, managed to get with her child to the Romanian zone of occupation, and settle for two and half years in the village of Pirogovo, Vinnitsa region, where she was able to survive with her son thanks to her skills in knitting and sewing, which was very much in demand among local peasants.

Motl Fire (right) with his savior from village Glinske (left) where he hide after 3d shooting of Makhnovka Jews, 1946.

Motl Faer (right) with his savior from village Glinske (left) where he hide after 3d shooting of Makhnovka Jews, 1946.

Polina Belskaya told about Ostap Ivanovich Golub, the chairman of the Local Economical Union (“RaiSouz”), who helped some Jews with food, and gave her the birth certificate of his wife’s younger sister. However, according to her testimonies, during her wanderings in the villages of the Zhytomyr region, no one ever asked her for any documents.

Among those who actively extradited Jews, they named the former director of the mill and some other petty Soviet bosses.

Lists of 252 Makhnovist Jews whose death was documented. The dates of birth of many of those killed are especially shocking.

Testimony of the village council of the village of Komsomolskoye on the impossibility of documenting the names of all the executed Jews due to the lack of household books.

Testimony of the village council of the village of Komsomolskoye on the impossibility of documenting the names of all the executed Jews due to the lack of household books.

After the WWII

Immediately after his release, Naum Abramovich Belsky was appointed head of the Komsomolskoe regional police department. Together with his wife, Polina Faer, he did a lot to find and punish the policemen and those who actively extradited Jews to the Germans, which caused an extremely negative reaction from a certain part of the population. According to local residents, this was the reason for his dismissal. After that, he continued to work at the Brodetsky sugar factory until his retirement. Judging by the fact that he was not a soldier in the active army during the war, he was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War on the 40th anniversary of the Victory in 1985 (the website “Память Народа” (Memory of the People)), after his escaping he most likely fought in one of the partisan detachments in the neighboring Zhytomyr region.

After the war, one of the few surviving Jews, cooper Motl Fire (1880-1976), whose memory is still alive in the village, lived there with his new wife.

After the war, one of the few surviving Jews, cooper Motl Fire (1880-1976), whose memory is still alive in the village, lived there with his new wife.

In total, after the war, in the late forties and fifties, about 20-25 Jews lived in Komsomolskoye (together with the adjoining village of Brodetskoye), including five children who had been born by that time to the survivors, several people who had returned from evacuation and from the front, and several sent to the work of teachers. Most of the Jews who remained alive by the end of the war did not return to the town, but settled in Vinnitsa, Berdichev, and Moscow. Among the secondary school teachers after the war there were 4 Jews (I. Kutisman, S. Schwarzburd, S. Gitman, M. Milman).

In 1962, with great difficulty, a monument was erected in the Zhezhelevsky forest, while the authorities put forward a mandatory condition that the inscription would not speak about Jews, but about “Soviet people”.

Testimony of Polina Belskaya-Faer about the struggle for the erection of the monument:

Money for the monument was collected mainly among the Jews in Kiev, Berdichev, Zhytomyr. At the same time, the reburial of the remains of Holocaust victims from other places was carried out to a large grave in the Zhezhelevsky forest. Full records of the Polina Belskaya-Faer interview to Shoa Foundation can be found here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Opening of the monument in the forest near Zhezhelevo. Polina Belskaya-Faer is sitting on the left in a white cloak and headscarf. Far left is Naum Belsky, followed by Motl Faer.

Opening of the monument in the forest near Zhezhelevo. Polina Belskaya-Faer is sitting on the left in a white cloak and headscarf. Far left is Naum Belsky, followed by Motl Faer.

Polina Belskaya-Faer with father Motl Faer on the day of the opening of the monument in Zhezhelevskiy forest. Photographer Podobinskiy. Photo provided by Polina Belskaya-Faer to Yad-Vashem in 1995

Polina Belskaya-Faer with father Motl Faer on the day of the opening of the monument in Zhezhelevskiy forest. Photographer Podobinskiy. Photo provided by Polina Belskaya-Faer to Yad-Vashem in 1995

Elderly Jews, especially Motl Faer, somehow maintained the Rebbe’s grave in an abandoned Jewish cemetery, and even paid a man who was supposed to stop cattle from grazing on the graves. Some money was transferred by Makhnovist Jews from other cities. It was said that Bnei Brak periodically managed to send photographs of the condition of the Rebbe’s grave. No fence was allowed.

In December 2019, a monument was solemnly opened near the Jewish cemetery at the site of the Second Execution.


At the same time, at the Jewish cemetery, there is a monument erected in the 1940s to the victims of the execution in 1942, although with a poorly preserved inscription.

At the same time, at the Jewish cemetery, there is a monument erected in the 1940s to the victims of the execution in 1942, although with a poorly preserved inscription.

Of the Jewish buildings in Makhnovka, the building of the synagogue remained, which was turned into a residential building and a house that housed the Talmud Torah.

Of the surviving old Jewish residential buildings, one can point out a stone house belonging to the aforementioned Noble School (“Polish School”), and not completely burned out in the fire of 1841, which was sold to the local Jew Haytsis, who brewed beer and kvass with the whole family, and in deep stone cellars of this house arranged a glacier. This house, built of local stone, mined near the village of Zhezhelevo (5 km from Makhnovka), still stands on the square near the monument to Soviet soldiers. 

Mahnovka Jewish cemetery: Polina Belskaya-Faer with brother David Faer before emmigration to Israel. During the month they cleaned Jewish cemetery. As Polina said: "We couldn't say goodbye to alive so said goodbye to dead". Photo provided by Polina Belskaya-Faer to Yad-Vashem in 1995

Mahnovka Jewish cemetery: Polina Belskaya-Faer with brother David Faer before emmigration to Israel. During the month they cleaned Jewish cemetery. As Polina said: “We couldn’t say goodbye to alive so said goodbye to dead”. Photo provided by Polina Belskaya-Faer to Yad-Vashem in 1995

In recent years, an old Jewish cemetery has been fenced and protected from vandalism, where there is an ohel of the Makhnovist Rebbe Yosef Meir Tversky.

Since the beginning of the nineties, there have been no Jews in Makhnovka.

Thus ended almost 400 years of Jewish history of Makhnovka.

Famous Jews from Makhnovka

Boris (Baruch) Brandt (1860-1907), a prominent Russian economist and later Zionist figure, was born in Makhnovka. Although he learned Russian only as an adult, he graduated with honors from the law faculty of Kiev University.
He wrote several works on the organization of taxation, and when the Minister of Finance Sergey Vitte began financial and tax reforms, was invited to work in the Ministry of Finance, which was an extraordinary event, since Jews *who were not baptized in any of the recognized Christian rites) were not allowed into the civil service. In 1897 he was appointed adviser to S. Vitte.

Illegally (and incognito) participated in the First Zionist Congress in Basel as a delegate from the Jewish proto-Zionist organization “Hovevei Zion” (Lovers of Zion).

Khazin Avrum (“Bazya”) Motelevich (1910 – ?)
Son of the tailor Motel Khazin. A participant in the battles against Japanese Army on Lake Khasan (Mongolia) in 1938, where he was among the first servicemen to receive the newly approved medal “For Courage”. Guard Lieutenant Colonel. Commanded a battalion

Khazin Avrum (“Bazya”) Motelevich

Khazin Avrum (“Bazya”) Motelevich


Archive records regarding Jews of Mahnovka
Surnames from the 1897 census lists stored in the State Archive of the Kiev Region (fund 384, inventory 4):



Makhnovka Jewish cemetery




One Comment

  1. Hi there,
    I am researching my grandmother’s family, from Brodets’ke. There was a rumor that they hid a Jewish girl in their home to save her. Her name was Zina (last name possibly Zolotova).
    Shortly after the murder of Jewish people by the Germans, both Zina and my grandmother were taken for work in Germany.
    Both survived the war, but Baba got separated from Zina. She thought that maybe she ended up living in France.

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