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Puliny (from 1935 until 2016 called Chervonoarmiisk) is an urban-type settlement in Zhytomyr Oblast. It is the administrative center of Puliny Raion. Population: 5,454(2013 est.)
In XIX – beginning of XX century it was a shtetl of Zhitomir Yezd, Volyn Gubernia.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Puliny did not form an independent Jewish community and in 1867 there were only 43 Jewish houses.

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In 1867 the Russian authorities knew about one prayer house in Puliny, which was officially registered in 1854. Most probably, the prayer house was built around 1850. It was also mentioned in the Polish geographical dictionary in 1870.

Puliny entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Puliny entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

In the early XX century, however, Puliny developed into a settlement with 200 wooden houses. Two rows of wooden stalls stood in the middle of the Market Square. According to Jewish folklore, the Rebbe of Makarov blessed those stalls that no fire would damage them, and they survived all subsequent fires. According to the memoir of Yaakov Ben-Dov, in the early twentieth century there were already four synagogues in Puliny.

The Old Synagogue was the prayer place of the rabbi, shollets, and important balabatim. The Kloyz of the Makarov Hasidim was described as “beautiful” and housed the association Hevra Shas for studying the Gemara. The Prayer House of Tailors had the association Hevra Tehilim, the members of which recited Psalms. The forth prayer house was that of the Butchers. All four synagogues were registered by the Soviet authorities in 1922 and 1924.

Synagogue"Bais Sheni" , 2017

Synagogue”Bais Sheni” , 2017

I couldn’t find any detailed information about pogroms during the Civil War. However, there are no doubts that the shtetl suffered from the pogroms. In December 1921, a Jewish children’s house was formed to help those who had suffered in the pogroms. Sixty children from Jewish families lived there. Local Jews used to work in that house.

Children from Ukrainian and Jewish families began to study separately in the Puliny school in 1924.
In 1927 a Jewish village council was formed in Puliny.
In 1929 the first Jewish collective farm was organized by L.A. Vainshtok.

Old Jewish house in the center of Puliny, 1960's

Old Jewish house in the center of Puliny, 1960’s

Synagogue”Bais Sheni” was probably closed in 1927 and converted into a Yiddish school. After World War II it became a kindergarten and from the earn 1970’s — a dwelling house.
All other synagogues were closed also at the same time.

Former center of the shtetl

Former center of the shtetl


In 1939, 523 Jews, 18.7 percent of the whole population, lived in Puliny. It was occupied by the Germans on July 10th, 1941. By December 30 all the Jews were dead
A ghetto was formed in Puliny.

It included four streets. The ghetto was surrounded by wire. Jews lived 20 people in one room. They weren’t made to work hard. The prisoners wore yellow stars on their back and chest. The leader in the Ghetto was a Jew. His name was David, his surname is unknown. He wasn’t local. When the Germans weren’t nearby he didn’t touch the Jews but only when some of them appeared he began to beat the Jews with astick.

In September 1941, Nazis gathered 274 Jews at the foot of the Lysa mountain. They were made to dig a pit and afterwards they were executed. The executors pricked out the eyes of four Jews, then they were beaten and hung. In late November all who had survived were ordered to gather near the hospital. They were allowed to take the belongings they could carry. When the Jews started approaching the place the Germans with dogs and the police were already standing there. The rumor that all the Jews would be driven to Palestine was spread. The Jews began to shout, elders started praying. There were empty cars nearby. The Jews were escorted along the streets of Puliny; while empty trucks went in front of them. The locals standing in the streets rushed into the columns of Jews and snatched the packages from the Jews. The police not only didn’t prevent it but helped the locals and gave all that was stolen to their wives and other people. The column approached the cemetery which was situated on the Lysa mountain. The victims were pushed to the already dug pits and shot. The wounded were beaten to death with sticks. Little children were thrown into the pits alive.

Holocaust mass grave in Puliny

Holocaust mass grave in Puliny

The locals took the deserted houses of the Jews for firewood.

There are two lists of the Jews who were killed. They consist of 278 names.

During WWII, 595 people were shot in the district, 259 of them were Jews (49.59%).

The story of the destruction of Jews from Puliny was described in the book “I will not forget, I will not forgive” by Mark Meshok (1927 – 2017), who got out from the corpses after the liquidation of the ghetto and fought in the partisan detachment. He, his mother and brother were the only Jews from Puliny who managed to survive the occupation.

Here are a few passages from his book:

How did people live in Ghetto? Several families lived in one crowded house. We were very hungry. Sometimes there was no place to sit let alone lie down. Only elders could lie down. There were no men in the ghetto . The all had been shot by that time (July, 1941)
We exchanged our belongings. If the polizeis didn’t see, people exchanged jewelry which they had managed to preserve for a slice of bread. There was lack of water. There was only one well in the ghetto, on grandpa Shaya’s yard.
Adults were driven to the work. Anyone 10-years-old and up was considered an adult. First, we were sent to gather hops – we carried it in baskets to the dryer. Then we were helping the other prisoners build the road. We fetched stones and smashed them. Once a day they gave us something which they thought was a meal. It was some kind of a soup made of rotten potato and beets. Sometimes there was a cabbage leaf in it. Only those who had a dish could eat. And we were not allowed to take anything away from the ghetto. People began to feel ill. We were given injections. A lot of people died. Later it turned out that they were taking our blood for experiments. Every week a car stopped near the gates. Ill and elder people were gathered near it. They said they were going to the hospital. However, nobody saw these people again. They were driven to a gas chamber.
If somebody died in the ghetto, two or three people were ordered to carry the body. Such people were buried outside the territory of the Polish cemetery. Neither signs or boards were allowed. They just dug a not very deep pit, threw the body in it and covered it with dirt. That was all. We lived in such a way until December 27th, 1941.
The cold was extremely severe. About 4 a.m. everyone was woken up and gathered in the street. Somebody said that we would be driven to Palestine. Elders walked, covered with their tallisses and praying. Poplizeis began to form a column and opened the wire. There were a lot of Germans and polizeis.
Something horrible began. People found out that the ghetto was being closed. The peasants from the shtetl came, started to tear off the headscarves from the women, took the belongings away from the prisoners. They took away all they could. We couldn’t take all our things with us, we took only the most precious ones.

Father and mother of Mark Meshok, which were killed in Puliny

Father and mother of Mark Meshok, which were killed in Puliny

About the reburial of Holocaust victims in 1965:

Near the entrance of the Jewish cemetery we had dug a large pit. We fit two big boxes together and put the blankets inside. When everything was ready I went to the location of the shooting. A bulldozer followed us. We came to that awful place. Barley was growing there. A geodesists’?? tower was near it. It was the place I would never forget.
My dear father and two uncles with my cousins were shot five meters away from the tower. We began to dig . Soon we saw the bones of those people who had been shot. That was a mass grave where my father was as well. I recognized the father by his yellow boots and the belt. I wanted to take these things but the elders didn’t letme.
We took the bodies carefully out, wrapped them in the blankets and put them into the boxes on the car. Then we began to dig for the women’s grave. I was mistaken by several meters. When we kept digging foxes started to ran out from the pit. It turned out that their burrows were there. We revealed more than one hundred bodies of women and children from that grave. There were 138 corpses in it. I counted them myself. We put them onto the car and went to the place of reburial. Then we did the same with the other grave. The one I crept out of 24? years before. In such a way, 24 years later, we reburied all the Jews who had been murdered by the fascists on December 27th, 1941 near the village of Yagodenka, Krasnoarmeysk district, Zhitomir region. We collected a little money from the people who had come. Their relatives were buried there. We erected a large monument a month later. I am going to look after it as long as I am alive.
If you come straight to the grave, the women’s grave is on the left, and the men’s grave is on the right. The total number of people is 487.

Only 3 Jews survived the Holocaust in Puliny: Mark Meshok with his mother and brother.

In the 1990s, a group of religios Jews from the United States and Canada came to Puliny and prayed in this house. No on who could give us more detailed information about this event was still alive in 2017.

In the 1990s, a group of religios Jews from the United States and Canada came to Puliny and prayed in this house. No on who could give us more detailed information about this event was still alive in 2017.

After the WWII

The information about the post-war Jews of Puliny was given by a local resident Petro Dmytrovych Lysiuk (a photographer in Puliny since 1972) during our visit in the summer of 2017.

Old Jewish houses in the center of Puliny on the photos of different events, 1960’s:

After the war, up to 80 Jews returned from the evacuation and from the front to the former shtetl. Among them was Misha El (worked as a shoemaker), Ziama and Rita Batalion, Rebekka Meyerovna (worked as a teacher), the Sherman family, Freiman, Niselman, Nibulsky, Preven.

But old people died, and the youth moved to big cities…  In 1975, there were only 22 Jews living here.
As far as we know, in the 1990’s the community wasn’t active here.
One of the last Jews of Puliny was Isaak Yakovich Nibulskiy, who moved to Israel in 2016.

In 2017, only a few fully assimilated descendants of local Jews lived in the former shtetl…

Jewish cemetery



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