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Sosnica (Polish), Sosnitza (Yiddish), Sosnyzja (German), Сосница – Sosnitsa (Russian), Сосниця (Ukrainian)

Sosnitsa is a historic town located in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine and is the center of Sosnitsa district. Sosnitsa is located on the Ubid River, a tributary of the Desna. The city’s estimated population is 7,695 (as of 2014).

Sosnitsa became a part of Russia Empire in 1667, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was the center of Sosnitsa Yezd of Chernigov Gubernia.

In the 17th century, Sosnytsia,  one of the oldest cities in the Chernihiv region, became a district center.

During Khmelnitsky’s uprising, a total expulsion of Jews from Sosnytsia took place. The Jews returned to this area in the early 19th century, when Chernihiv province was included into the Pale of Settlement.

Centre of the Sosnitsya, 2020

Centre of the Sosnitsya, 2020

According to the census of 1847, the county had only one Jewish community, the one in Sosnytsia itself, comprising 1,210 people.

Jewish population of Sostitsya:
1847 – 1210 Jews
1897 – 1842 (26%)
1939 – 370 Jews
1995 ~ 20 Jews
2008 – 6 Jews
2020 – 2 Jews

In 1865 official Rabbi was Yankel Krichevskiy and in 1883 – 1894 Leiba Berkovich Levitskiy (1858 – ?).
In 1873, two prayer houses were founded. Later, a third prayer house was constructed named Artisan.
According to the 1897 census, the total county population consisted of 170,000 inhabitants, among them 7,600 Jews. In Sosnytsia itself, the total population stood at 7,000, including 1,842 Jews. Among the county settlements, where at least 500 people resided, the Jews comprised the highest percentage in Karyukovka – 3,502 people, of whom 381 Jews; Novi Mlyny – 3,298 and 349; Mena – 6,277 and 1,659 respectively.

Old PreRevolution building in the centre of Sosnitysa, 2020:

In the late 19th century, Sosnytsia county numbered already 4,000 Jews and there were 30 Jewish merchants and 542 burghers in the city.
In November 15-18 1905, during a mass conscription for the army, a pogrom occurred in Sosnytsia, which destroyed 22 Jewish homes and a prayer school.

Old PreRevolution building in the centre of Sosnitysa, 2020:

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In 1919, pogroms took place led by Petlura.
After Civil War pogroms many Jewish family left Sosnitsya for bigger cities.
After the Revolution, a Jewish commune called Der Stern was formed in the town. Several workshops existed there that produced different goods. There was no Jewish school in the town in the 1920s.

List of the disenfranchised citizens in Sosnitsya, 1922. Photo from Chernigov Archive provided by Volodimir Morenets

List of the disenfranchised citizens in Sosnitsya, 1922. Photo from Chernigov Archive provided by Volodimir Morenets

According to the 1939 census in Sosnytsia lived 370 Jews.

Boris and Sima Izrailevi, Sosnitsya 1930

Boris and Sima Izrailevi, Sosnitsya 1930

From the beginning of the war most Jews were not able to evacuate. This was due to the city’s distance from major railways and roads. Also elderly remembered the Germans from 1918 and did not understand the impending danger.

Rebuild PreRevolution house in the centre of Sosnitsya, 2020

Rebuild PreRevolution house in the centre of Sosnitsya, 2020

Germans entered Sosnitsya on September 8, 1941. The first mass shooting happened on September 12th.
The whole Jewish population of Sosnitsya was destroyed in 3 “actions” in November 10 (66 Jews), November 16th, 1941 (100 Jews) and March 10, 1942 (100 Jews).
The Jewish community of Sosnytsia district was completely destroyed during the Holocaust. In total, over 300 Jewish residents were shot.

More information about Holocaust in Sosnytsya can be found here.
We know the names of only 269 Jews killed in Sosnitsya and Sosnitsya district and 38 names of soldiers who were killed during WWII. You can find both lists here (in Russian).
Other names are still unknown…
After the war, seven Jewish families returned from evacuation.
Zyama Zalesky was drafted into the army, but his wife and children stayed in Sosnitsa and were not evacuated. They were shot along with all the other Jews. After returning from the military, Zyama remarried.

Old house in the center of Sosnitysa

Old house in the center of Sosnitysa

The Jewish community was registered in Sosnitsya in 1996. At the time 20 Jews were living there. The first chairman was Avraam Naumovich Babushkin. He held this position until 2010. After him, Yakov Zyamovich Zalesky became the head of the community.

In the Summer 2009 students of University of Dortmund (USA) led by Professor Alice Rollet installed metal fence around the Jewish cemetery in Sosnitsa and around Holocaust graves.

In Autumn 2009 the family of the head of the Jewish community, Yakov Zalesskiy, erected a monument in Masalaevka village to a Jewish woman who was killed there together with her 4 year old children during the war.

In 2008 6 Jews live in Sosnitsya.
In 2020, two Jews were living in Sosnitsa.


Famous Jews from Sosnitsya

Yakov Grigoryevich Blumkin (1898, Sosnitsya – 3 November 1929) a Leftist Socialist-Revolutionary, assassin, Bolshevik and an agent of Cheka and State Political Directorate (GPU).

Yakov Blumkin

Yakov Blumkin

Holocaust mass graves

All Nazi murders took place at a ravine near Viunishe village. At this site, four monuments have been erected in memory of the victims:

– A common monument to all civilians killed during occupation from 1941-1943 is situated on the top of the hill and includes a list of 873 people. Some of the names are Jewish.

– Three monuments on the separate sites of each “action” November 10, 1941 , November 16, 1941 and March 10, 1942.

According to photos taken by, Jewish genealogist, Miriam Weiner, at the beginning of 1990’s there was only one memorial plaque with Star of David with a small inscription dedicated to those killed in the November 16, 1941 action.

In the beginning of 2000’s Jews expats from Sosnitsya collected money and constructed first monument. The construction of the two other monuments was funded by Chernigov based Russian businessman, Viktor Mironov.

Soviet memorial on the top of the ravine:

Mass graves:

Jewish cemetery

Go along Chernihivs’ka Str., turn at the building number 76, the cemetery is located behind the house 72.

There are two fences on the three sides: a wooden and iron one. The latter bears the Stars of David.

Old part of the cemetery:

New part of the cemetery:



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