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Pikov is a small village in the Kalynivka raion, Vinnytsia region of Ukraine. As of 2023, around 2,000 lived there.

In the 19th – beginning of 20 century, Pikov was a shtetl of Vinnitsa uezd, Podolskaya Gubernia

In the past, Pykiv consisted of two parts called Novy Pykiv (New Pykiv) and Stary Pykiv (Old Pykiv), which were on opposite sides of the Snyvoda River. According to historical documents, they were separate towns until they merged in 1960. Before the revolution, most of the Jewish residents lived in Novy Pykiv.

Enterence to Pikov, 2020

Enterence to Pikov, 2020

When I visited the former Pykiv shtetl in winter 2020, all that remained of the Jewish community were a Jewish cemetery and the ruins of a big Jewish house.

The first reference to a Jewish presence in Pikov dates back to the beginning of the eighteenth century.   

Oldest toilet in Ukraine located near the former market square in Old Pikov, 2020. Yes, it is real toilet...

Oldest toilet in Ukraine located near the former market square in Old Pikov, 2020. Yes, it is real toilet…

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the village of Old Pykiv was home to the family estate of Count Potocki, along with a large park nearby. In 1713, Pykiv shtetl was ransacked by Cossacks, who committed heinous acts against the Jewish population, including the mutilation of women. According to the archival records, they “cut off the noses and ears of Jewish women”.

Before the Revolution, Pykiv shtetl was home to approximately 2,400 Jews, who lived in 500 houses. Most of the houses were constructed using clay and wood, with only wealthy Jewish families being able to afford brick homes. The shtetl hosted large fairs twice a year.

Pikov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Pikov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

The Jewish community of Pikov suffered heavy losses during World War I, including a severely deflated economy. The civil war struck another blow to the Jews of Pikov. A pogrom broke out in July 1919, and fifty Jews were murdered. 

Center of the former shtetl, 2020

Center of the former shtetl, 2020

In 1926, the town had a Jewish population of 1,644, accounting for half of the total population. The local Jewish council promoted a Yiddish-language Jewish education for the children and youth of Pikov. During the 1920s and ’30s, Pikov had an active Jewish school.

Two synagogues operated in the town through the beginning of the 1930s but they were closed before the WWII.

Up until the 1930s, there was no separate Jewish school in Pykiv. Instead, the village’s school was situated in the center of New Pykiv, with the majority of the Jewish children studying there. All of the teachers in the school were Jewish.

Leib Gitman on the front of the house which was built by his workers in Pikov. In 1928, he gifted this house to his son after the merriage.

Leib Gitman on the front of the house, which was built by his workers in Pikov. In 1928, he gifted this house to his son after the marriage.

In 1924, under the Soviet regime, the Jewish “Trud” kolkhoz was established. In 1936, another Jewish kolkhoz was formed. The Jewish collective farms in the area cultivated roughly 200 hectares of land.
In the 1930s, Gitman was the director of a motor-tractor station in Pykiv. As there was no power station in the village, he used a gasoline generator to electrify part of the shtetl, including the synagogue and school. The first bicycle in Pykiv belonged to his son, Grigori Gitman.

Group of the builders in Pikov, 1926. 1 - Leib Gitman, 2 - Yankel Tsiprin, 3 - Itsik Tsiprin (was killed in Pikov during the Holocaust)

Group of the builders in Pikov, 1926. 1 – Leib Gitman, 2 – Yankel Tsiprin, 3 – Itsik Tsiprin (was killed in Pikov during the Holocaust)

In 1939, a Jewish refugee from Poland who was a doctor arrived in Pykiv and attempted to warn the local Jewish community about the German’s atrocities against Jews. Sadly, most of the Jewish community did not believe his warnings.

Old Jewish houses in the Jewish part of Pikov, 2020:

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Old Jewish house

Old Jewish house

Last PreRevolution Jewsih shop in New Pikov, 2020.

Last PreRevolution Jewsih shop in New Pikov, 2020.


At the start of WWII, hardly any Jews were able to evacuate. Srul Shnaider, who managed a shop in the shtetl, was the first victim of the Nazis in Pykiv.
When German troops arrived in New Pykiv, they established a ghetto where the entire Jewish population of the town was forced to relocate. An 8-10 member Judenrat was established, with Yankel Josevich as its head.
The Ukrainian police carried out daily raids on the shtetl, plundering 1-2 houses each day. From these raids, a store was opened for Ukrainians, where the stolen goods were sold at very low prices. The policemen who carried out these raids pocketed the money they made and spent it on alcohol.

Jewish population of Pikov:
1765 – 298 Jews
1847 — 1566 Jews
1897 — 1479 (~100%)
1923 — 1232 Jews
1950s — 20-40 Jews

In March 1942, all the young people from the ghetto were taken to the German aerodrome construction site at Kalynivka. Ganya Shnaider, Manya Yukhman, and Anya Gitman were among those sent to a German brothel for pilots and later executed.
The day before the execution, the Germans ordered local peasants to dig a grave measuring 50 by 10 meters in the Jewish cemetery.
On May 29th, 1942, the ghetto residents were ordered to paint their houses, and all Jews hastened to comply. The following day, the Hungarians surrounded the ghetto and forced all the Jews to gather in the shtetl’s square, before herding them to the stable of the Jewish collective farm, not far from the Jewish cemetery. The Jews were then taken out of the stable and shot.
The shooting site was surrounded by local police and peasants armed with pitchforks and axes. The Jews were threatened that, in the event of any attempts to resist, the children would be buried alive.

Fanya Gitman (1904 Pikov- 1984, Vinnitsya), survived during the Holocaust in Pikov.

Fanya Gitman (1904 Pikov- 1984, Vinnitsya), survived during the Holocaust in Pikov.

Prior to the destruction of the Pykiv ghetto, a Jewish Red Army officer who had previously been held in the Khmelnik ghetto arrived and attempted to gather the Jewish youth to take them to the forest to join the partisans. However, he was apprehended and taken to the execution pit with other Jews. During the undressing process, the officer drew his concealed firearm and fired at a German soldier. This caused confusion and enabled a group of Jews to escape. Sadly, the officer was injured during his attempt to escape and drowned in the nearby pond.
Before the execution, the former head of the Jewish school delivered a speech to the doomed Jews, although the content of his speech is not known.

Mass grave in Pikov Jewish cemetery, 2020:

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 Thirty three Jewish men who were selected due to their profession were released.
According to the surviving locals, the earth on the grave moved for three days following the execution, as if it were trying to give voice to the tragedy that had taken place.
The execution was carried out in groups of ten, with the men being killed first. Despite this, a few Jews were able to escape.

List of Holocaust victims in Pikov:

In addition to the Jews who were killed in the common grave, there were others who managed to survive the initial execution but were later found and killed near the same location. Their identities are unknown, but the burial sites are marked by small mounds of earth.
In a nearby village, local police discovered a 10-year-old Jewish girl who had been hidden by some of the villagers. She was taken to the common grave and killed.
Despite the threat of execution for harboring Jews, a local woman named Nizvetskaya hid a Jewish woman and her two children. They were able to survive and eventually moved to Saint Petersburg after the war.

One individual, named Dashkovich, managed to escape the pit and survive the execution. Following the war, he resided in Saint Petersburg.
Semyon Gershkovich was another survivor of the execution. He too lived in Saint Petersburg after the war and gave a detailed 1.5 hour interview to the Shoah Foundation in 1995, describing how he managed to survive the war.

Semion Gershkovich during the interview

Semion Gershkovich during the interview

Other sources suggest that a total of 1800 Jews were executed in Pykiv, with 300 of them coming from Ivaniv and being brought to Pykiv before the execution. The same German executioner who killed the Pykiv Jews later slaughtered the Ulaniv Jews.

After the liberation of New Pykiv shtetl, a special commission was established to document the number of victims and the methods of execution used in the mass killing.
The Pykiv Jewish cemetery became the final resting place for the remains of Jews who were killed in other locations.

On May 30, 1946, a memorial was erected in Pikov at the site where most of the Jews of the area were murdered on May 30, 1942. The site is fenced off and contains a monument crowned by the Soviet star. An inscription on the monument reads: “Brutally killed by German-Fascist barbarians on May 30, 1942”. An additional monument bears the inscription: “In memory of those killed at the hands of the German-Fascist occupiers during the years of the Great Patriotic War, 1941-1944.”

Mass grave of Pikov's Jewish, 1940's-1950's. Photo from Yad Vashem archive.

Mass grave of Pikov’s Jewish, 1940’s-1950’s. Photo from Yad Vashem archive.

Every year at the end of May, Jews from different locations come to Pikov to commemorate their loved ones. The monument at the murder site was rebuilt in 2008.

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After the WWII

Following the destruction of the Jewish population in New Pykiv, Ukrainian locals looted the abandoned homes in search of valuables, including gold, and used the wood as fuel. After the war, the area was rebuilt by the locals.

Surviving Jews were advised not to return to the shtetl for several months after its liberation, as the former policemen and their families may have sought to eliminate witnesses to their crimes.
During 1944-1945, Jews who were drafted into the army returned to the shtetl, but left after ensuring that all their relatives had perished.
A Jewish pilot, who lost his leg during the war and became disabled, also visited the shtetl but did not stay since his wife, two children, and siblings had all perished in the Pykiv ghetto.
Every year on May 30th, Pykiv Jews from across the USSR gather to visit the grave of the executed and pay respects to their deceased loved ones.

After the war, approximately 30 Jews who had evacuated or were drafted into the Soviet Army returned to the shtetl, and locals recall that around 10 Jewish families lived there during that time.
I was able to gather some incomplete information about the Jews of Pykiv, including:
– Izko and Molko, who were old-clothes sellers
– Gusya Press, who worked at a shop and had two sons, Roma and Vilya, and a daughter Emma
– Pesya (last name unknown) and her son Avrum, who returned from the war without a leg
– Godel’
– Gizkoh, who traveled around local villages in a horse-drawn carriage and bought skins from locals
– the large Zyprin family, consisting of seven members

Many Jews left Pykiv and resettled in Vinnytsia.

During the construction of a shop in the Jewish neighbourhood of Novy Pykiv in the 1960s-1970s, a buried treasure of gold coins was discovered, likely hidden by one of the executed Jews. The Ukrainian who found the treasure sold the coins for 25 rubles each.

The synagogue building in Pykiv was a one-story brick building located on the river, with beautiful colourful leadlights. It was destroyed after the execution of Jews and was fully demolished later after the war.

There was a synagogue in Pikov...

There was a synagogue in Pikov…


In the 1990s, Valery Bilun, the son of a Jewish village dentist, moved to Germany and was believed to be the last Jew in Pykiv.

Old Pre-Revolution paved road in the Jewish part of Pikov:

This article was translated by Asya Samsonova.


Jewish cemetery

After the war, local Jews named Geler, Fishman, and Soyfer were buried in the Jewish cemetery.

  • Post WWII part of the cemetery
  • Pre WWII part of the cemetery




  1. Hard to find words. Very moving.

  2. My family, the Kliger family lived in Pikov. They left after WW 1 to come to US. I believe his brother, David was killed in a program. My great grandfather was Shrul Kliger.

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