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Salnytsya is a village in Khmelnytskyi district of Vinnytsia Oblast in Ukraine.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a shtetl of Litin County of Podolia Governorate.

Jews called the village “Solchev” in Yiddish.

Most of the information for this article was taken from the book “Roads of Memory” by Faina Braverman, a native of Salnytsya (1923, Salnytsya – 2003, Kyiv), which I accidentally bought in 2019. Parts of this book can be found here.

Book of Faina Braverman

Book of Faina Braverman

A lot of information was also taken from a three-hour interview by Sophia Attenzon (Becker) with the Shoah Foundation, where she described the pre-war history of Salnytsya and how her family survived the Holocaust.

Sophia Attenzon (Becker)

Sophia Attenzon (Becker)

I visited the village during my expedition in 2020. Vera Stepanenko, who works in the Salnytsya library and is the author of the village’s website, was very helpful to me on the spot.

Of the pre-revolutionary buildings in the village, only the house of the wealthy Jew Rofker has survived. The house was built of red brick and, in Soviet times, belonged to the local collective farm.

Rofkers house:

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In 1870, there was one synagogue in Salnytsya. In 1889, there were three synagogues. In 1885, a Jew owned a brewery in Salnytsya. In 1910, there were two synagogues in Salnytsya, including one Hasidic synagogue.
In 1914, Jews owned the only lumber yard, pharmacy stores, confectionery store, and brewery in Salnytsya, six grocery stores, eleven handicraft shops, and only wine and wine gastronomic goods store.

Salnitsya entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Salnitsya entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

In October 1920, during a pogrom carried out by units of the 1st Cavalry Army, more than 30 Jews were killed in Salnytsya.

I could not find information about other pogroms during the Civil War of 1917-1920. Still, judging by the slight decrease in the Jewish population (minus 20%), the pogroms did not have as destructive consequences as in other towns in Ukraine, where the Jewish population was either significantly reduced or forced to flee.

In the early 1920s, a mikvah and cheders operated in Salnytsya, but later they were closed.

Former center of the shtetl, 2020

Former center of the shtetl, 2020

In the 1920s, a Jewish collective farm named Komintern was organized in the village. Ida Zemlyak worked as an accountant there.

In the 1920s, a four-class Jewish school was established in the village, with a director and one teacher, each of whom taught in two classes. The director of the Jewish school was Israel Markovich Litenecky, who had a large family of five children. In 1937, he was arrested as a Zionist and never returned to the village. His entire family perished during the Holocaust. Interestingly, several other Jews reported Litenecky to the NKVD.

Site of the Jewish school in Salnytsya:

There was also a Ukrainian 10th-grade school, which most of the Jewish children attended.

In her book, Faina Braverman mentions many names of her fellow villagers who lived in the village in the 1920s-1930s:

Jewish population of Salnytsya:
1847 – 179 Jews
1887 ~ 440 Jews
1897 – 903 (24%)
1910 – 831 Jews
1923 – 672 Jews
1996 – 2 Jews

– The family of rabbi Galperovich. The rabbi himself no longer lived in the village, but his wife Muntsa lived here with their three children: the eldest Rosa, the middle Dora, and the youngest Mendele. The four were among the few Jews in Salyntsya who survived the Holocaust. All three children lived in Leningrad after the war. Munetsya died shortly after the WWII in Khmelnytsky.
– The shochet Simkha Gershenzvit and his wife Tuba, and their daughters Fanya, Rahil, and Sara. Their house was on a hill, which made it the only house in the village with steps leading down instead of up. Simkha also performed the function of a mohel. Sara and Rahil worked in hospitals during the war, as they had medical education. After the war, they lived in Leningrad, and Jews and Ukrainians from Salyntsya constantly stayed in their house.
– The algebra and geometry teacher Netis. The Gildenersh family were the only Jews in the village to have a plot of land near their house where an apple orchard grew. The Kulchinsky family earned a living by weaving wicker baskets. The head of the family was called Leyb and his son Kiva. Kiva had a daughter Manya and a son Misha. Misha Gitstein fought on the front, survived, and lived in Kharkiv after the war.
– The family of the melamed Mosenkin, who earned a living by weaving women’s stockings. In the 1920s-1930s, the melamed could no longer teach Torah to children for free. Jewish families with the surnames Shram, Shumsky, Polonsky, Ugrinovsky, Karpovsky, and Ostrovsky.
– The Falis family: the head of the family’s first wife died, leaving behind two daughters. His second wife, Bilya, gave birth to a daughter Rivka.

Last class of the Ukrainian school, 1930

Teachers of local Ukrainian school, 1935

Teachers of local Ukrainian school, 1935

Before the war, there were two synagogues in Salyntsya. One was called “di kloiz,” and the other “di shil.” Di shil was larger. They were located on the riverbank but at opposite ends of the village. But during my visit to the village in 2020, local elders recalled that the synagogue was situated in the centre of the village opposite the modern building of the village council. This wooden synagogue was dismantled before the war.

Hitlerner-Orlov David Naumovich was born in 1904 in Salnytsya. He became the village council chairman in 1930 and held this position from 1946 to 1958. He died in 1996 in Kyiv.

Leizer Broufman was the head of the Komsomol organization in the town. He was killed together with the Jews during the Holocaust.

Boris Lazarovich Haskelberg (1918, Salnytsya – ?) was drafted into the army from the town in 1938. He was demobilized as a disabled veteran after numerous injuries in 1944. He worked in various legal institutions in the USSR.
There was no doctor in the village but a paramedic named Solovyev. During the war, he was remembered for his bad attitude towards Jews.

Buildings of collective farm in Salnytsya:


In July 1941, Salnytsya was occupied by German-Romanian forces.
Ukrainian Marievich was appointed as the commandant, who humiliated and mocked Jews in every possible way, like other policemen. Among the policemen, there was not a single person who treated Jews relatively well. Jews were forced to do the dirtiest work.

In December 1941, all Jews were driven to the Ulanov ghetto. No transportation was provided, and everyone was forced to walk 10 km. After Jews settled in the ghetto, the Germans announced the payment of a contribution, and Jews were forced to collect money and valuables and give them to the Germans.
Some Jews were allowed to return to Salnytsya for a bribe but were later evicted to the Ulanov ghetto or killed directly in the village.

The Jews of Salnytsya were shot along with all the Jews of the Ulanov ghetto on June 10, 1942. Several days before the shooting, the Ulanov pharmacist Israel Dondar gave poison to anyone who wanted it, and some Jews ended their lives by suicide before the shooting pit.

Mass grave in Ulanov, 2020

Mass grave in Ulanov, 2020

Jew Cibushnik was a member of the Communist Party and managed to evacuate himself, but his wife and children remained under occupation and were murdered. After the war, he married a Ukrainian woman and named his two born children after his killed children – Misha and Sara.

Every July 10, surviving Salnytsya Jews and their descendants come to the Ulanov mass grave to commemorate the anniversary of the shooting.

Sofia Atenson (née Becker), born in 1917, mentioned several names of her classmates who died during the Holocaust in her interview in 1998: Bela Muchnik, Genya Karpovskaya, and Klava Arbisman.

Central street of the village, 2020

Central street of the village, 2020

After the WWII

Vera Stepanenko reviewed the archive of the village council for 1944-1946 and found Jews in the lists of residents who returned here after the village was liberated:
– David Naumovich Hitlerner with his wife Raisa Yudanina and daughter Olga, and in 1947 daughter Faina was born; Usher Matveevich Atenzons with his wife Sofia and son Dmitry, and in 1947 son Leonid was born; in 1960 – son Grigory
– Isaac Iosifovich Abel with his wife Prilutskaya Sura and daughter Ludmila
– Shimon Moiseevich Sirotа (? – 1997) with his wife Roza Kravets and children Pobortsov Vladimir and daughter Maria was born in 1946;
– Roza Kravets (worked in a store)
– Maria (Muntsa) Mikhailovna Galperovich with her children Roza, Dora, and son Mikhail (Mendel)
– 60-year-old Maiselis Frida (Freidl) Meirovna
– Raisa Solomonovna Estis (left in 1948).

After the war, about 20-30 Jews lived here. But their number constantly decreased as the elderly died and the youth left for the big cities of the USSR.

Site of the syangogue in the center of former shtetl...

Site of the syangogue in the center of former shtetl…

In 1960s-1970s, a monument was erected in the village to fellow villagers who died in the ranks of the Red Army. But in the lists of the names of the fallen soldiers, there are almost no Jews who were drafted in 1941.

In the late 1960s, the Atenzons built a brick house in the centre of Salnytsya. Sofia Leybovna Atenzon worked as an accountant. They raised and educated three sons. Usher Matveevich worked as the head of the Salnytsya pharmacy for almost 40 years, from 1944 to 1983. In 1984, due to the parents’ advanced age, the eldest son Dmitry Atenzon took them to Vinnytsia, where Usher died in 1994.

Sofia and Usher Atenzon

Sofia and Usher Atenzon

In the 1990s, after the death of their parents, Vladimir Pobortsev returned to the village from Moldova. He lived in the family home. Vladimir passed away in February 2020. He was the last Jew in Salnytsya…

Jewish history of Salnitsya is a sad story, so let this cute Salnitsya kitty be here

Jewish history of Salnytsya is a sad story, so let this cute Salnytsya kitty be here

Jewish cemetery

The Jewish cemetery was no longer used, and deceased Jews were buried in the Ukrainian cemetery.





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