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Miropol

Miropol

Miropol, a village in the Romanovsky district of the Zhytomyr region, stands on the Sluch River.

In 1957, the village of Kamenka, which stands on the left bank of the Sluch River, was annexed to Miropol, but the locals still continue to call this part of the village Kamenka.

In the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, Miropol was the shtetl of Novograd-Volynsky uezd, Volyn province. From 1925 it was the centre of the Jewish village council of the Dzerzhinsky district of the Volyn region.

Article was translated by Daniel Pesin.

The first references to a Jewish presence in Miropol relate to the beginning of the 18th century. At the end of the 19th century there were 1,912 Jews, who comprised about 39 percent of the total population.

Miropol in 2020:

Old Jewish house in the center of former shtetl

Old Jewish house in the centre of former shtetl

Jewish population of Miropol:
1847 — 865 Jews
1897 — 1912 (38%)
1926 — 1143 Jews
1931 — 1412 Jews
1989 – 11 Jews
2021 – 1 Jew

In the middle of the 18th century, Rabbi Pinchas from Korets, a student of the Besht (translator’s note: the Besht, also known as Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer or the Baal Shem Tov, was the founder of Hasidism; Besht is the acronym for Baal Shem Tov, which means “One with the Good Name”) lived for some time in Miropol.

The main occupations of the Jewish population of Miropol in the beginning of the 20th century were handcrafts and petty trade. In 1914, the Jews of Miropol owned 2 pharmacies, 2 kerosene warehouses, 6 timber warehouses, photography, and 30 shops (including 17 grocery stores and 10 manufactories). There was an operating Talmud Torah.

Rav Avraham Dovid Marbenu-Kaufman (?, Miropol - 1938, NY, USA), was a Miropol rabbi in the beginning of 20 century

Rav Avraham Dovid Marbenu-Kaufman (?, Miropol – 1938, NY, USA), was a Miropol rabbi in the beginning of 20 century

In the lists of unreliable citizens for 1909, who were engaged in secret emigrant activities (the border with Austria was not far away), there was 1 resident of Miropol – Meer Shmulevich Bukshtein.

Center of Miropol in the beginning of 20 century: 

Miropol entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Miropol entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

On December 1, 1917 there was a pogrom in Miropol; in 1919, a pogrom in Miropol was perpetrated by detachments of the Directory.

In the end of the 1920s a mikveh operated in Miropol; cheders were closed by the authorities.

In 1925, people from Miropol founded in the Kherson region a Jewish agricultural colony called “Miropolsky grain grower” (it had 8 families and 52 people).

By 1926 the number of Jewish residents had declined to 1,189. Until 1935 there was a Yiddish school there.

7th grade of Miropol school, 1939-1940

7th grade of Miropol school, 1939-1940

Miropol school, 1938

Miropol school, 1938

 

Holocaust

On June 22nd, 1941, the airfield, the military town and Miropol itself were bombed by German aircraft; many were killed and wounded.

Soviet military vehicles in the center of Miropol, 1941

Soviet military vehicles in the center of Miropol, 1941

Only two weeks later German forces entered the shtetl. It was occupied from July 6th, 1941 to January 6th, 1944. The Wehrmacht troops were greeted by bread and salt on an embroidered towel by the local intelligentsia, headed by Gavrilyuk, the head teacher of the local school, who was an honoured teacher, having been awarded the Order of Lenin not long before the war. The editor of the newspaper gave a heartfelt speech, in which it was said: “Thank you, gentlemen, Germans, for the liberation from commissars and zhids.”

In late July or early August, all of the Jews were herded into the ghetto, which was located closer to the centre of the village. Every day, the police chased them to work. The girls were sent to work in a German hospital, where they washed floors, chopped wood in the kitchen, carried food, and cleaned up after the wounded. Men were used for earthworks. In the first pit, dug by them, were buried Red Army soldiers who were on the defensive in dugouts near the military camp.

Ruins of count's palace in the Miropol's park. During WWII, building was used by local police

Ruins of count’s palace in the Miropol’s park. During WWII, building was used by local police

From the 28th to the 30th of July, 1941, the first motorised infantry brigade of the SS caried out “actions” in the region of the rive Sluch, and in New Miropol. From the report of the operative team “S” of August 9th, 1941 it is known that in Miropol were shot 24 Jews, who were accused of avoiding work. In addition to this, on September 28th, 1941, in Miropol and also in the two neighbouring villages Kamenka and Pechanovka about 200 Jews were shot in total. It is known that in Miropol were shot 157 Jews, of whom 29 were men, 66 were women and 62 were children. Two days later, another Jewish family was destroyed.

"Killing

In the beginning of October the Nazis and their accomplices exterminated 94 Jews. On the 13th of October, 250 Jews were shot in Miropol, and in October and November 1942, 960 were shot. On the eve of the action in Miropol, policemens came from all over the area. The Jews were told that everybody would be sent to the shtetl of Lyubar. With them they were ordered to take a change of clothes, not a lot of food, and all money and valuables. From dawn the action began. All Jews were sent to the central square. The feeble old ones and the sick were carried on doors taken off their hinges. Parents with children tried to take places in the column closest to the roadside, to run to their non-Jewish acquaintances to ask them to hide the children. So it was decided before the action. On command, men rushed at the policemen, breaking out of the cordon. The children ran after them. But not a single family hid the Jewish children.

Approximate location of mass grave. In 1983, remains of the vicitmes were reburied to the center of village. Photo by 2020

Approximate location of mass grave. In 1983, remains of the vicitmes were reburied to the center of village. Photo by 2020

The policemen led the Jews to the old park, where earlier a huge hole had been dug. The doomed people were stripped naked, had their belongings taken away, then the column was decided into tens, was led to the hole and was shot.

Jewish artisans and their families were left alive. They escaped being shot during this action, as did those who managed to hide. But after a short time they were all destroyed.

In Miropol, the Jews of the surrounding villages were also shot. So in December 1941 in neighbouring Kolodyazhnoye, 9 Jews who were hiding there (8 adults and a child) were arrested; they were taken to Miropol, where they were shot.

The Red Army liberated Miropol on January 6, 1944.

Lyudmila Blekhman (nee Tsymrin) survived the time of the execution. She survived being shot 2 times. After the war, she got married and had 2 sons. The last time she came to Miropol was in 1987. She left details memories about the WWII. Lyudmila died in Israel in 2015.

 

Photos from the personal archive of Lyudmila Blekhman:

Memories of  Lyudmila Blekhman:

After WWII, about 100 Jews returned to Miropol, among them:
– the Sandler family; she worked in the library
– the Krimers; both worked in a factory
– Feferberg Semyon with family
– a family of doctors named Zubkis
– Feldelman, working in the store
– Dora Davidovna (last name unknown), teacher at school
– Viksman

Most of them lived in Kamenka (the left-bank part of Miropol).

In the 1970s, Miropol was visited by the Jew Rapport, who left his native shtetl before 1917. Such a visit during the Soviet era was a rarity. The second time he came in the 1980s, he brought a VCR and video camera as a gift to the local school, which was a rarity in those days. He also wanted to open a toilet paper production line in Miropol, but wanted a street named after him. The local authorities were not opposed, but they were forbidden to do this by someone from Kyiv.

Reburial of Holocaust victims from mass grave to park in the centre of village.

Holocaust survival Lyudmila Blekhman with the son, 1983

Holocaust survival Lyudmila Blekhman with the son, 1983

Mass grave in 2020’s:

Most of the local Jews emigrated to Israel in the 1990s. Only one woman came back; the climate did not suit her.

Famous Jews from Miropol

Yakov Grigorevich Mashbits (1928, Miropol – 1997, Moscow) – a Soviet and Russian economic geographer.

Yakov Mashbits

Yakov Mashbits

New Jewish cemetery

It locates in Kamenka (western part of the village).

There is a grave of Baal Shem Tov desciple here:

 

Cemetery’s guard

Old Jewish cemetery

It locates in Eastern part of Miropol:

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