Pages Navigation Menu



Пирятин (Ukrainian), Пирятин – Piriatin (Russian)

Pyriatyn is a historic town located in Poltava region of central Ukraine, center of Piriatyn district. Piriatyn is located on the Udai River, a tributary of the Sula. The city’s estimated population is 16,146 (as of 2011).

In XIX – beginning of XX century it was center of Piriatyn Yezd of Poltava Gubernia.

Piryatin is approx. 44 km from Priluki, 150 km from Kiev and in 47 km from Lubny.

Information about after-war Jews of Piriatin was provided by poet Velvel Chernin in 2019. Velvel used to come to Piriatin to spent the summer with his grandparents in the 1960’s.


A Jewish community was first recorded in Pyriatyn at the start of the XVII centuryPyriatyn. At the time of ”Khmelnytchina”–a popular uprising led by Bogdan Kmelnitsky–, in 1648, the community was destroyed.
By the end of the 17th century the Jews settled in Pyriatyn again.

My location
Get Directions

In XIX century rabbi Menakhem-Tuviya, the student of Tsemakh Tsedek, was the rabbi in Pyriatyn.

Jewish population of Piryatin:
1802 – 99 jews
1847 – 464 jews
1865 – 1377 (30,7%)
1897 – 3166 (39,4%)
1910 – 5692 jews
1926 – 3885 jews
1939 – 1747 (12,7%).
2015 ~ 50

In late XIX –XX centuries commercial trade and artisan crafts were the main Jewish occupations in Pyriatyn.
In 1855 there were 87 merchants of the 3rd guild and 302 among the Jews of Pyriatyn.

The synagogue was built in 1859.

“Poaley Tsion” branch, a Zionist youth movement, was founded here in 1906.

Four years later Pyriatyn had three synagogues, a Jewish cemetery, two private colleges for Jewish men, two private colleges for Jewish women, a Talmud Torah, 37 Jewish households.Talmud Torah was situated in the “Zhabolavka” neighborhood.

During the Beilis trial, 813 rabbis of the Russian Empire signed a declaration about the impossibility of any blood usage in Jewish rituals.
Pyriatyn’s rabbi L.Z. Ginzburg is mentioned in this list.

In 1912, the Jewish Savings and Loan Association was set up.

Pyriatyn entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1903:

In 1914 four pharmacies, the town bakery and the town barber had Jewish owners as well as 28 shops (including five haberdashery stores, the town musical instruments store, two jewelers’ and two stationery stores) were owned and managed by the Jews of Pyriatyn.

Yakov Haskelovich Maylis – this name was known to every resident of Piryatin in the 19th century. It was he who built the first powerful steam mill in the city and gave a significant impetus to the development of this industry. This happened in the years 1866-1868, and the mentioned mill stood… exactly where it stands now. The structure can be seen in the photo, it was used by the Bread Products Plant until the 1990s. It is currently closed as it is in a state of disrepair.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Civil War pogroms

In April 1918 several murders of the local Jews occurred at the Pyriatyn railway station.

Railway in Piryatin

Railway in Piryatin

In February 1919 a Jewish pogrom, , organized by the units of the Directorate, a provisional Ukrainian governing body.

In summer 1919  another pogrom was instigated by the division of the Volunteer army under the command of General Shkuro.  Piryatin was occupied by Denikin’s army during autumn 1919. At this time most Jewish houses and shops were destroyed, many people were killed.

In 2015, I found in Chernigov Archiv documents regarding pogroms in Piryatin. Some of them were children’s testimony in Priluky Children Asylum recorded in the beginning of 1920’s:

Blana (13 years), Boris (10 years), Abraham (6 years) Kostrinskiy – Our father Eliya (40 years, locksmith) was killed on November 19, 1919, mother was raped and died in 1920. Brother Moses (11 years) and sister Nadya (12 years ) died too. We find shelter in Priluki Asylum.
Boris (14 years), Enta (12 years), Aaron (5 years) Yrlainis – Our father Morduh and mother Elka were killed…
Etya (14 years) , Luba (12 years) Suponitskiy (daughters of Mendel) – Our mother was beat up.
Iosef Vigoder – My father David (55 years) died after torture.
Ranya, Elya, Pavel Kaganov (father – Laiser) – Our father (49 years,blacksmith) was beat up and lost ability to work. Now we are in Priluki Asylum

Body of Yacov Gershkovich Amchislavskiy, he lived in village Machet near Piryatin. In 1918, he was killed far from home during businees trip. Train was stopped by the members of local gang. Yacob was betrayed by another passenger. Bandits discovered Yacob's circumcision, poke his eyes and shot. Local's shot photos of all Jews who were killed in that train and buried a bodies.

Body of Yacov Gershkovich Amchislavskiy, he lived in village Machet near Piryatin. In 1918, he was killed far from home during businees trip. Train was stopped by the members of local gang. Yacob was betrayed by another passenger. Bandits discovered Yacob’s circumcision, poke his eyes and shot. Local’s shot photos of all Jews who were killed in that train and buried a bodies.

Also another people mentioned in their documents next names of pogrom victims in Piryatin:
Killed: Leiba Polyakov (45 years), Moses Fridman (65 years),Mark Levitov (28 years)
Injured: Yankel Leib Ropskiy (53 years), Meer Yakovlevich Ruvimskiy (55 years), Simha Moiseevich Ostrovskiy.

Of course these lists include not all Piryatin pogrom victims.

Between wars

At the time, many people joined the Communist Party. The synagogue was closed, and it was replaced by a fulling factory. However, the older generation was trying to save their religious heritage by meeting up for religious observances in the chapel, which used to be a private house, whose owner took it upon himself to become a rabbi.

Old shtetl's building in the center of Piryatin

Old shtetl’s building in the center of Piryatin

Iliya Aronovich with children Akradiy, Olga and Yacov in Pyriatyn, 1920's. Photo provided by Ivan Zozulya

Iliya Aronovich with children Akradiy, Olga and Yacov in Pyriatyn, 1920’s. Photo provided by Ivan Zozulya

In the early 1920s a committee of the aid to the victims of pogroms was established in Pyriatyn, and an orphanage for the Jewish children was opened as well as a Jewish labor school № 4, named after the International Labor Day, “The First of May”.

In 1922, local communists quelled the meeting of Jewish party Bund, this caused fights and shootings.

In 1926 a youth Zionist organization was led by I Mogilevskiy, M Mordukhovich, J Rozinskiy. Two hand-written magazines were produced – “Der Veker” and “The Voice of Labor”.

In 1920’s, there were registered 3 religious Jewish community.

Yiddish elementary school in Piryatin, 1929 YVA,Photo Collection 8913/1

Yiddish elementary school in Piryatin, 1929 YVA,Photo Collection 8913/1

The most interesting part of the history of the Jews in Pyriatyn before the World War II is to do with the Jewish collective farm. As the policies of NEP (New Economic Policy) were abandoned, marking a sharp departure from the state support of private enterprise which hit small Jewish businesses exceptionally hard, there was a need to provide workplaces for disenfranchised Jewish workers. To employ them, a Jewish collective farm, called “The Banner of Communism”, was organized in Pyriatyn. Kusiel Kazakevich was a chairman.

Center of Piryatin in 2015

Center of Piryatin in 2015


Its buildings were located in the outskirts of the town, at the end of Kievska Street. According to some old residents, the collective farm got one acre of land, which used to belong to the landowner farmers. The first chairman of the collective farm, employing mostly men, was Toporskiy. With a lot of Jewish enthusiasm and common sense, they applied themselves to the work new to them. Soon the collective farm became a prosperous agricultural business. Grain, sugar-beets, vegetables, sunflowers were grown there. It had its own mill and an oil-press. There was plantation of melons, with the produce sold at the local market and famous all over the local area. Cattle breeding program was started, with a dairy farms, a pig farms (traditions weren’t much thought about) and even a small horse farm coming later. The farm’s race track and stables remain until the present day.

Territory of former Jewish collective farm in 2015

Territory of former Jewish collective farm in 2015 (see map above for detail location)

Former Kogan's house

Former Kogan’s house

In the 1930s, Ilya Markovych Stavitskiy became the chairman of the collective farm. Many Ukrainians were employed on the farm at the time. According to the old farm workers, he was a sensible and smart manager, as well as a kind and honest man. In 1933, the year of severe famine, he saved some oats from government seizures – there were rumors that he ordered to sprinkle it with bran. In that hungry winter, the farm’s canteen cooked soup with those oats. It was said that Ilya Markovich agreed to help some teenagers who escaped from a starving nearby village. Their relatives asked him for help, so he added their names to the employees’ list, as shepherds, so they could get dinner at the farm’s canteen.

Aaron Mendelevich Rymanovskiy (1902, Pirytin - ?), worked in Pirytin's collective farm and was arrested in 1937.

Aaron Mendelevich Rymanovskiy (1902, Pirytin – ?), worked in Pirytin’s collective farm and was arrested in 1937.

In the 1930s most Jews moved from Pyriatyn to other cities.

In 1939 there were 1,747 Jews (12.7% of the whole population).



On the 18 September, 1941 Pyriatyn was occupied by Wehrmacht.

Only a small number of Jews were able to evacuate to the East of the Soviet Union. All men liable for call-up were drafted or voluntarily entered the Red Army, so 87-88% of the Jews, who lived in the town, remained under the Nazi occupation.

Seated: Haya Elyashevna Amchislavskaya(nee Merkina)(1886-1942,killed in Pirytin) with 2 grandaughters Lusya(1924 - ?) and Janna Arjadievna Chernina (1929-1993) Standing: parent of 2 girls - Aaron Popilov (1904-1982) with wife Dina Yakovlevna Popilova (Amchislavskaya) (1903-1985) Piryatin, beginning of 1930's. Photo provided by Velv Chernin

Seated: Haya Elyashevna Amchislavskaya(nee Merkina)(1886-1942,killed in Pirytin) with 2 grandaughters Lusya(1924 – ?) and Janna Arjadievna Chernina (1929-1993) Standing: parent of 2 girls – Aaron Popilov (1904-1982) with wife Dina Yakovlevna Popilova (Amchislavskaya) (1903-1985) Piryatin, beginning of 1930’s. Photo provided by Velv Chernin

As soon as the area was occupied, an order by the commandant’s office was issued for all Jews had to be registered and to wear a white bandage with a yellow six-pointed star on the sleeve. All Jews were forbidden to appear in public places. Jewish men were assigned to different jobs without payment.

In 1941 or early 1942, a  ghetto was founded in Pyriatyn, located on Naberejna St. In March –April 1942, 1,530 Jews lived in the ghetto.

The Ex-chairman of the Jewish collective farm Kusiel Kazakevich left Piriatin in order to organize a partisan detachment. However, the Germans found out about this. 100 hostages were captured from the Jewish ghetto. The Germans announced that if Kusiel didn’t give up, they all would be shot. Kazakevich gave up and was shot after being tortured. 100 Jewish hostages were shot too.

Streets of former Jewish ghetto in 2015:

On the top of church (on the photo you can see new church build on the place of destroyed old church) was located machine gun of ghetto guard.

Until September 1942 the town and nearby districts were controlled by the military commandant’s office, which set up the town judiciary force and Ukrainian auxiliary police, who became executive agencies of the commandant’s office.

"Pirogova Levada": book of local historian about Nazi victims in Piratin

“Pirogova Levada”: book of local historian about Nazi victims in Piratin, 2012

In September 1942 the power was transferred to the German civil administration, and Pyriatyn joined the Kiev general district, becoming an administrative center of the Gebietskommissariat Pyriatyn, including Pyriatyn, Chernukhi, Sencha and Lokhvitsa.

On 6 April 1942 the ghetto was liquidated. Germans moved all Jews in 2 columns to western outskirt. First column was formed from elderly people on the carts and in second were young Jews who can walk. Columns were guarded by 15 local Ukrainian policemen and 4 German soldiers. Almost all Jews were shot in the Pirogova Levada 3 km away out of Pyriatyn. The mass killing was executed by Sonderkommando SD “Plat” under the command of Hauptsturmfurer SS Plat. The same team was probably responsible for another action on 18 May 1942 , when 380 communists and soviet activists, as well as 25 Gipsy and some Jewish families were shot in the same place.

Piryatin was liberated by the Red Army on September 17, 1943.

Report about Nazi's crimes in occupied Piryatin

Report about Nazi’s crimes in occupied Piryatin

Photos of Holocaust victims in Piryatin from book “Pirogova Levada”:

Only a few Jews managed to escape. Among them was S.Y. Kantor, who left the ghetto at night before the shooting. She said she was warned by a German officer. Going into hiding, she managed to reach Belgorod on foot.

Boris Beilin was slightly wounded during mass execution and got out from common grave at night. After liberation he joined the Soviet Army to fight Germans. After the war he lived in Piryatin.

Boris Beilyn (1914-1967)

Boris Beilyn (1914-1967)

In the 1930’s, a local Jew whose name and surname are unknown married a Ukrainian woman Anastasiya Vakulovna (her surname is unknown). His first wife was Jewish, they had three children. Soon he dropped his Ukrainian wife and his three children from the first marriage and left. Anastasiya saved all three children during the German occupation, brought them up, married them all with Jews in Kiev and only after that she herself married a local Ukrainian tailor.

I find 2 lists of Piryatin Holocaust victims:

  • handwritten list created by Head of local Jewish community Vladimir Gurevich
First list

First list

  • list of civilians killed during the Nazi occuption from the book “Pirogova Levada” (published by local historian in 2012). It contain not only Jewish names

After the WWII

After the war the following Jewish families returned from the evacuation to Piriatin (the list is incomplete): Yosif and Tsilia Papilov, Aron Papilov (military pensioner), Birman, Druker (worked as a journalist), Moiseyenko, Mitnovitsky, Krupitsky, Shilman Sonia (local), and Liova (born in Gaysin).

In the postwar period religious Jewish community was registered  at December 25, 1946 by address Soviet Str., 12.  It was a private room in the house of Mendel Iosypovich Livshits.
In 1946 the community numbered 39 people, in 1950 – 40, in 1959 – 15. The duties of the Rabbi were performed by Moses Zalmanovich Mashkovich (1884–?).

Jewish community was removed from registration by the decision of Executive Committee of Poltava region’s Council from December 08, 1959.

The head of a the town council was Jewish in the 1950’s. His name and surname are unknown.
In the 1960’s, the elderly people gathered for prayers at Mitnovitsky’s house (his first name is unknown). He lived in Proyezdnoy lane near the cinema. After his death the minyan wasn’t held any more. Local Jews didn’t bake matza themselves; it was brought from Moscow or Kiev.
A barbershop was housed in the synagogue building during Soviet times.

Community was registered again in 1998. First chairman was elected Avigdor Naumovich Rahmanovich (1919-). After his death new Head of Jewish community was elected Vladimir Borisovich Gurevich.


Most documents regarding Jewish history of Piryatin store in Poltava Archiv.
Birth records for 1900-1906: Fond 1072/1/1.

Former Synagogue

Building of former synagogue located on Yarmakova Str.

Building of former synagogue

Building of former synagogue

Holocaust mass grave

Grave located in 3 km from the town, “Pirohovskaya levada” (pasture), urochische Yablonevishchina. There is a memorial at the site.

From the article “The Land of Piryatin” by Ilya Erenburg:
On April 6, 1942, in the town of Pryatina of Poltava District, the Germans murdered 1,600 Jews – old people, women, and children who were not able to move [i.e. escape] westward….
The Jews were taken out to the road to Greben. They were brought as far as Pirogovskaya Levada, 3 kilometers from Piryatin. Large pits had been prepared there. The Jews were forced to take off their clothes. Right afterwards the Germans and policemen divided among themselves the things that belonged to the women and children. Then they chased the people into the pit in groups of five and shot them with automatic weapons.

First memorial in Pirogova Leavda

First memorial in Pirogova Leavda

I can’t speak about the murder of nursing infants: I don’t have the words to do this. Right now I want to tell about the suffering of Petre Lavrentevich Chepurchenko. He was brought here at three in the afternoon, along with were more than 300 residents of Piryatin. They were given shovels. They saw the Germans killing the children. At five o’clock an officer gave the order: “Bury them!” Cries and groans resounded from the pit. Half-dead people were stirring under a thin layer of earth. Chepurchenko said: “The earth is heaving…”

Unknown Soviet soldier near the grave in Pirogova Levada, 1944. Photo was found in Pirytin city council in 1990's and transferred to local museum.

Unknown Soviet soldier near the grave in Pirogova Levada, 1944. Photo was found in Pirytin city council in 1990’s and transferred to local museum.

Suddenly Chepurchenko saw emerging from this earth his neighbor and friend the Jew Ruderman, who delivered things for the felt boot factory. Ruderman’s eyes were full of blood and his body was covered with blood. Ruderman screamed, “Finish me off!” From behind him someone shouted in response, “Finish him off!” That was the request of another person [Jew] whom Chpurchenko knew, a carpenter whose first name was Sima, who had been only wounded, not killed. A dead woman lay at Chepurchenko’s feet. A 5-year old boy crawled out from under her body, crying, ‘Mommy!” Chepurchenko didn’t see or hear anything else. He had fainted.
Petro Lavrentevich Chepurchenko is still alive but his life is a bitter one: he cannot forget April 6, 1942… His gaze was focused on some point and he seemed to be listening. What does he see: the boy tugging at his dead mother [or perhaps] Ruderman’s eyes? On that terrible day, along with the others, the Germans killed Chepurchenko….”

November 26, 1943

Famous Jews from Piryatin

Lev Grigoryevich Mironov (Leib Kagan Girshevich) (1895-1938, Moscow), a member of Special Services, Commissioner of State Security, 2nd rank (1935), in 1922-23 – Deputy People’s Commissar of Justice of the Turkestan ASSR, in 1933-34 –  a member of the Board of the OGPU of the USSR, “Honourable worker of the All-Russian Special Commission for Combating Counter-revolution and Sabotage – GPU(State Political Directorate)” (twice), awarded with two medals, arrested in 1937, shot in 1938. He wasn’t rehabilitated.

Lev Grigoryevich Mironov (1895-1938)

Lev Grigoryevich Mironov (1895-1938)

Jewish cemetery

The cemetery is located on the northeast of the town in Tsybania Street, №8. It was founded in the beginning of the XIX century.

Part of gravestones was stolen by local Ukrainians. Cemetery looks very abandoned.

View from Piryatin Jewish cemetery

View from Piryatin Jewish cemetery



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: