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Naroditch (Yiddish), Народичи – Narodichi (Russian), Народичі – Narodychi (Ukrainian)

Narodichi is a district center in the Zhytomyr region. It is known from the XV century. In the XVI-XVIII centuries it was in the Ovruch uezd of Kiev province within the Commonwealth, which became a part of the Russian Empire in 1793.
In the XIX to early XX century, it was a shtetl in the Ovruch district of Volyn province.

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The first mention of a Jewish community in Narodichi was in 1683.  In 1875 the chief rabbi of Narodichi was Elia-Leib Juravel (1847 – ? ).
The main occupations of the Jewish population in XIX-early XX century were crafts and trade.
Jews owned the only pharmacy, the two bakeries, all 9 hotels, a mill and 44 shops in Narodichi. They also owned all 24 grocery shops, all 3 butcher shops, all 9 light industry shops and the only shoe store. The only one dentist in Narodichi was a Jew.

Famous Rabbis Vaisblat’s were born in Narodichi in XIX century:

In the late XIX century emigration of Jewish population to USA and another Western countries began.

On January 13, 1919 Stroock and Lazenyuk gangs ruined Jewish homes and get extorted 20000 rubles.

After Revolution

I find this report on JDC-website, it gives good description of Jewish life in Narodichi in the 1920’s 

Report on Narodichi, Volyn Gubernia Narodiсhi is in the Ovruch yezd and situated in fifty versts from the railway Korosten station. Before the pogroms it had a total population of 4000, of whom 2500 were Jews. At present the population is the same.

In 1919 Harodichi suffered from a number of pogroms at the hands of various bands, which resulted in 15 being murdered and 13 wounded. Almost all of the movable property was pillaged and robbed. The town now has 20 widow, 20 full orphans, 50 half orphans and 30 invalids. Formerly Narodichi was a lively trading town. It had 50 tanneries, 70 shops and there were several sawmills near the town, all of which enabled the inhabitants to warn a decent livelihood. At present there are only nine tanneries in operation, the saw mills are not working and only 17 shops are open.

Existed institutions:

Jewish Public School

Jewish Public Schools Started in 1920 by Narobraz, and is maintained from funds collected from the Jews. 146 children receive instruction here, ranging in age from 7 – 13. 7 from them are full orphans , 27 half orphans and 112 with parents living. The majority of children come from very poor family. The school is badly in need of school supplies and equipment. General Professional – Technical School It has two divisions-building and woodcutting. The school is supervised by the Gubernia Professional Bureau. There are 37 pupils from 15 to 20 years of age, of whom 22 are Jews. The school is need of appliances, stationary and some funds for the organization of a scientific cabinet.

There was a Jewish school in 1920's

There was a Jewish school in 1920’s


There is a hospital which is supervised by the Yezdzrav and receives funds from the District Ispolkom. The premises of the hospital are suitable for its purposes. It has 30 beds, 10 for infectious diseases, 5 for surgical, 7 for gynecological and 8 for therapeutical. There is a lack of linen, and it does not receive an adequate amount of food. Connected with the hospital is a dispensary, which takes care from 15 to 20 persons daily. Medicaments are delivered free of charge only to members of Processional Unions. In November, 1922, hospital received 9 blankets, 17 pairs of slippers and some medical supplies from the ARA.


About 25 families work from four to five dessiatines of land each, a total of 117 dessiatins. Most of the agriculturists are former primitive workers, tanners, and traders who have taken to the soil. Some of them have live stock, but almost no equipment. This group at one time intended to organize a colony on their land, which is situated about four versts from the town, but the civil war and pogroms prevented them from carrying this plan into effect. They have received the following from the ORT: 2 plows, 163 poods of oats, 2 cultivators, 29 poods of barley, 2 harrows, 12 poods of buckwheat, 9 horses.

Jewish population of Narodichi:
1765 – 241 Jews
1847 – 978 Jews
1897 – 2054 (44,8%)
1926 – 2508 Jews
1939 – 1233 (18%)
1947 ~ 100 Jews
2017 – 2 Jews

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, there was a Jewish village council and a Jewish collective farm in Narodichi.
In 1925 there acted “He – Halutz” movement. In 1925 Jews from Narodichi founded collective farm “Red worker ” (102 persons) in Kherson Jewish agricultural district.

In the 1920’s – 1930’s many Jews left Narodichi and resettled to Kiev and other big cities of Soviet Union.

In the 1920’s, three synagogues were functioning in the shtetl but they were all closed by the beginning of the war.

In 1939, the Jewish population of Narodichi was 1,233, comprising less than half of the total population.


In the two months since the start of the German invasion, the Jewish population in town changed dramatically. Many indigenous Jews managed to evacuate to the eastern regions of the Soviet Union while Jewish refugees from the cities arrived in this remote town seeking shelter. In 1941 the Jewish population in Narodichi was wiped out rather quickly in two (or possibly three) massacres.

German forces occupied Narodichi on August 22, 1941.

Shortly after that, robberies of the houses that belonged to the Jews who had managed to evacuate began. In a week they started to rob the houses of those Jews who stayed in the shtetl. Local residents entered the houses, threw out the Jews, took their clothes, linen, and furniture. Everyone was trying to steal the best and sometimes there were even fights because of this. The Germans took pictures of all that happened with pleasure. After the robberies the Jews were evicted from their houses and settled in the flats of the houses that were situated in Jewish streets. Several families lived in one flat.

At August 28, 1941 the Germans together with local Ukrainian nationalists, who showed where Jews lives, began to cast them out. Babies were left to lonely old men.
All Jews were herded into a country club – House of Culture and Ukrainian nationalists beat them on the way to this building. There they were registered and posted in separate rooms:  men, women and children.

At ten o’clock August 29, 1941  fifty men from the club were forced to dig a big pit outside of town. After police lunch, men and then women from club began take out. Before landing on cars Jews were mercilessly beaten by sticks. Car moved people to prepare pit where all were shot. In the afternoon rain started and alive children were released. In that terrible day were killed up to 600 (from some sources among them were 250 children and 4 teachers). Only feeble old men, some women and children stay alive – only two hundred and fifty persons.

First "action" Holocaust Mass grave in Narodichi. From Grave locates in 1 km to the north, near the road to Norinci village. Memorial was erected in 2005 for the cost of Kharkov businessman Feldman.

First “action” Holocaust Mass grave in Narodichi. From Grave locates in 1 km to the north, near the road to Norinci village. Memorial was erected in 2005 for the cost of Kharkov businessman Feldman.

The muder of the Jews was carried out by the local nationalists. Head of the police Khrenovskiy conducted the shooting. Every executor was trying to take part in that bloody massacre. Policeman Ivan Bessmertniy escorted Fira Kofman to the place of the shooting. In the village Latashi of the Narodichi district the headman of the village shot his Jewish neighbor himself. His neighbor was a Jewish woman who had taken her three nephews after their parents had been shot in Narodichi. They all were shot. The boy was 12, girl Bella was 8, and Tsilis was 9 months.

All remained Jews were moved to one street (ghetto) not far from local police. Conditions were terrible and almost every day some person die, especially children. Second “action” took place at November 16, 1941 when all remaining Jews (370 people) were shot at the territory of Jewish Cemetery, children were killed and buried in separated mass grave. Massacre was organized and carried out only by local Ukrainian police without participation of German troops.

There is also another version of these tragic events:

A Ukrainian peasant, Mykola Stepanchik recalled what he had witnessed in 1941 when he was 11 years old. His home was located on the road leading to the mass shooting site. On the morning of the killing Aktion, a member of Sonderkommando 4a had shooed him away, threatening him, if he did not leave the field near his house, where pits were being prepared and guards were cordoning off the area. A German Gestapo man told him in Ukrainian, leave now or you will be killed. He was tending his cow in that field. He was curious and hid in the crops where he could still see what was happening. First a truck appeared with the Germans and a group of Soviet POWs. The POWs dug a large pit. The Germans took a lunch break and then returned at about 3:00 P.M. The truck arrived several times, carrying groups of about 40 or 50 Jews on each occasion. The adult Jews including mothers with infants were separated from the children. The Jews had to crouch down in rows of 10 near the swamp. They were on their knees next to the pit. The Germans had rifles and automatic weapons and stood only about 5 meters from the Jews. There were 6 Ukrainian policemen, but they did not shoot. One Ukrainian policeman placed straw on top of the bodies in the pit. Then the rain came. Passersby avoided this area during the Aktion, and took other roads. Everyone had heard the gunfire.

The Sonderkommando unit, however, soon moved on and left behind the now mostly orphaned Jewish children, who had been brought by the local Ukrainian police to the local cinema/club building, the former synagogue, as an unusual form of open remnant ghetto. The local militia was led by a Ukrainian chief named Khrenovsky (a photographer) and his deputy Artem Orel. It appears that the children were left there, more or less abandoned for about two months, with only 2 elderly women, who were supposed to care for them. They were given no food rations or water and had to depend on the local inhabitants to survive. Stepanchik recalls that some of the children wandered the streets looking for food.

According to evidence collected by Symon Goretsky (and deposited at Yad Vashem, file # 9314) and Arkady Fedorovsky who had joined the Red Army in 1941, lost 20 of his family members in the massacres, and returned to Narodichi in 1944, the former orthodox priest in the town went door to door, confronting locals, demanding that they donate food, and proclaiming that if they did not help these poor children then they would be punished by God. Some shared their food, but most avoided the club/cinema and spread rumors that the priest had gone mad.

In November 1941, the 72 children were shot by three German Gendarmes, assisted by local Ukrainian policemen, including Khrenovsky and Orel. They were forced to run naked in the Jewish cemetery, while being shot by one Gendarme who had mounted a machine gun on a tripod, and two others who held semi-automatic pistols. The children’s bodies were hastily buried in the cemetery; the ground was hard. According to the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission report, 370 Jews were shot in Narodichi in November 1941. It is not clear if this figure also includes the Jews who were shot in September or not, but it appears to conflict with the smaller number of child victims cited by the witnesses. Given that Narodichi was also a Rayon center, where German and Ukrainian police were stationed, additional Jews may have been brought there from surrounding villages. It is possible that there was third Aktion in November, at which time Jewish inhabitants from the villages were shot. In 1944, Fedorovsky and other local inhabitants erected a monument to the “823 Soviet Jews Shot in Narodichi.” The local Ukrainian police chief Khrenovsky was judged by a Soviet military tribunal and shot. The names and fates of the German perpetrators are not known.

Children's mass grave in local Jewish cemetery. Monumnet was erected in 2012

Children’s mass grave in local Jewish cemetery. Monumnet was erected in 2012

Jew David Nayvelt used to live in the shtetl before the war. He was very strong. During the shooting of the Jews he captured two policemen (or Germans) and killed them by knocking their foreheads together.
Jew Elia Melamed came from the Jewish quarter to see his good friend who used to be his co-worker. The latter informed the police at once. Melamed was captured and shot.

Details about Holocaust in Narodichi were taken from memoirs of Semen Fridman.

Narodichi was liberated by Red Army at November 11, 1943. For crimes again Jews were convicted head of police Hrenovskiy (shot), Kostruba (25 years in prison), brothers Bessmertniy (25 and 10 years). But many killers fled and were not punished.
List of perished soldiers from Narodichi with many Jewish names on local WWII memorial :

After the WWII, people gathered at the Holocaust mass graves on the each ninth of May.

After WWII

After the WWII about 100 Jews returned to Narodichi.
The largest part of the information about postwar Jews in Narodichi was given by Yosef Avramovich Illinets, born in 1947.

We are interviewing Yosef Avramovich Illinets during Summer expedition in 2017

We are interviewing Yosef Avramovich Illinets during Summer expedition in 2017

A minyan gathered secretly in different Jewish houses because the police and local authorities were constantly chasing those who prayed.
Sometimes old men gathered at Sholom Fridman’s place. His children Leva and Nona are living in the USA now.
Chaim Gershkovich Sapozhnikov (?-1971), Shlema Shulman, Elia Kats, Yankel Stotland, Leyba Fridman, and Avrum Vakhlis (hatter) were faithful members of the minyan.
After the war the following Jewish families returned to the shtetl: Mendelenko, Geifman (Isaak Geifman was a director of a weaving factory), Reyderman (Pinia Reyderman was a director of a procurement office), Smyk, Borodianskiy, Gapanovskiy, Kravets, and Neizvestnii.

Shaya Froimovich Veksler was a head of the best collective farm. He was awarded with numerous medals for his success.

The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 had an extremely negative impact on all spheres of life in Narodychi. At the time about 30-40 Jews lived in Narodichi. The majority of them were moved to other towns and village.

According to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated July 23, 1991 Narodichi was evacuated and was one of the worst hit areas by the radiation, affecting some 93,000 people in the Narodichi town and surrounding raion, 20,000 of which were children. This led to the cessation of all industrial enterprises and one of two secondary schools were closed. On the streets of Narodichi are many abandoned houses and dilapidated buildings of educational and medical institutions, etc.
Vital functions of the town however are gradually being established and in 2013 there lives about 2500 people.
In 2017, only one Jewish woman and her daughter lived here. The daughter had cancer…

Center of Narodichi in 2017

Center of Narodichi in 2017

Jewish Cemetery

Located at the north-western part of the settlement. It was founded in the end of XIX century and acted during all XX century. Holocaust memorial monument was erected there in 2012.

Gates to Jewish cemetery

Gates to Jewish cemetery

At this site I found information that during second “action” in November 16, 1941 children were killed and burried in separate grave. Jews marked this place after the war by small wooden house which was surrounded by metal fence. Time destroy this monument and unknown people stole the fence.

Some postWWII graves have wooden monuments:

An old part of the cemetery was destroyed during the war. We could find only a couple of prewar monuments. Now it is a large wasteland:

More photos of Jewish cemetery in Narodichi can be found here.




  1. Thank you for your great work.

  2. Thank you very much for this article. My grandfather, Nathan Friedman, grew up in this town.

  3. I just read this article. My grandfather, Morris Geiderman, was born in Naroditch in 1889, as was his wife Eva Rosenman in 1900. Eva’s father, my great great grandfather, Samuel Rosenman, and his wife, Miriam Spector were also born in Naroditch. Besides, Eva, four other children were born there as well. It appears that Samuel must have immigrated to the United States around 1910, as the two youngest of his 7 children were born in the U.S. in 1913 and 1916. Anyone having information about them, please feel free to contact me.

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