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Troyanov

Troyanov

Troyanov is a village in Zhytomir district, Zhytomir region.

Troyanov is located on the Gnilopyat River, a tributary of the Teterev. The village’s estimated population is 1929 (as of 2001).

In 19th – beginning of 20th century it was a shtetl of Zhytomir Yezd of Volyn Gubernia

I visited Troyanov during the 2020 summer expedition. Afterwards, I was able to put together the little information I collected about the Jews of the village. There haven’t been any new buildings in the village since the beginning of the 20th century. The only remnant reminding of a once-great Jewish community is a large overgrown Jewish cemetery. A local teacher Volodymyr Matsun took us about the cemetery.

A former resident of the village Yakov Yolin, who currently lives in Zhytomyr, told us about the post-war Jews.

Beginning

The first reference to Jews in Troyanov relates to the mid-18th century. At the end of the 19th century, the Jewish population of Troyanov numbered about 1,469 and comprising 18.6 percent out of the total population. In 1905 the town suffered from several pogroms, after which the Jews of Troyanov, together with the Jewish community in Zhitomir, organized a Jewish self-defense force.

It is known that local Ukrainian peasants killed ten Jewish boys from a nearby shtetl Chudnov, who had taken part in Zhytomyr Jewish self-defence in 1905.

Members of the Bund’s self-defense organization killed 23–26 April 1905, in Troyanov.” Russian–Polish postcard with portraits of (left to right) P. Gorvits, Y. Brodski, and A. Fleysher. (YIVO)

Members of the Bund’s self-defense organization killed 23–26 April 1905, in Troyanov.” Russian–Polish postcard with portraits of (left to right) P. Gorvits, Y. Brodski, and A. Fleysher. (YIVO)

The central area of the village and 3 adjacent streets were occupied by the Jews. There were some 40 small Jewish stores in the market square. Troyanov used to have two synagogues: the New one and the Old one.

Troyanov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Troyanov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

During the Soviet period a Jewish kolkhoz was established in Troyanov.

In the 1930s there was a junior Jewish school. In 1939, 581 Jews lived in Troyanov (11.3% of the population).

Former market square in the center of shtetl:

Holocaust

Very few Jewish families could escape from the village before the Germans occupied it in 1941. The village was occupied from August 15, 1941 to July 2,1944.

All remaining Jews were driven into a ghetto which consisted of a few overcrowded huts surrounded with a barbed wire fence. Five or six families were stuffed into each house.

In August, 1941, the Germans reported: “…..where the engineering unit is located, communists and 22 Jews had been liquidated”.

Mass executions in Troyanov started when the Wehrmacht together with local Ukrainian police killed 53 Jews and 6 communists. In October, 1941 493 Jews were murdered. During the occupation, 863 people were killed in the village, including 678 Jews or 78% of total victims.

The mass execution site is located 3 km from Troyanov and 2.5 km from the village of Rudnja Gorodozka, on the territory of a military training grounds. Only a few locals know where it was.
Ukrainian residents used to tell a story of a Jewish blacksmith who was bullied by the police and forced to carry a bucket of water around the village. After scoffing at him the policemen drowned him in a well.

Possibly, last Jewish house in the center of former shtetl

Possibly, last Jewish house in the center of former shtetl

After the WW2, returning Jews erected a monument on the mass gravesite to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust (6 km northwest of the village). But later, the hill on the grave happened to be destroyed by a collective farm tractor. A local Jew Boris Yolin restored the monument and the hill over the gravesite.   It is topped by a Star of David and has two inscriptions, one in Hebrew and other in Russian.

The Hebrew inscription says: “Here lie all those Jewish people, children and women, who were martyred in the year 1941.”

The Russian inscription says: “Here lie those Jews of Troyanov who were brutally murdered by the German Fascists in 1941. To their memory [erected] by their relatives and friends.”

I can’t find any data on the Troyanov Jews who survived the Holocaust in these occupied territories. But I am told that after the War, there lived an old woman Hana, the only Jew, who had survived in the occupation. She managed to escape from a mass grave twice.

Post-WWII

After the WW2, several Jewish families came back to live in the area. They were the Gitelmanns (schoolteachers), the Furmans, Boris Yolin (the head of the Yolin family, deputy director of a wood processing plant), the Falkiewskis (the head of the family worked as chief of a department at the same plant). A Jewish woman Aida Viktorovna (the surname unknown) worked as a teacher at the local school. A Jewish man Grushko was the chairman of the local collective farm.

There was a synagogue on this site

There was a synagogue on this site

Most Jewish houses were demolished or occupied by Ukrainians. As a result, the majority of the surviving Jews resettled in Zhytomyr.

After the War there was no rabbi in Troyanov. However on the Passover, the Jews secretly baked matzo at their homes.

Some 50 Jews lived there in the 1960s. It is known that in 1970 ten Jewish children attended the local school.

The older Jews were dying out and the Jewish children were leaving to study in big cities of the USSR. The last Troyanov Jews were the Yolins, who left for Israel in the 1990s. Their son Yakov Yolin remained in Ukraine and he lives in Zhytomyr. The last Jews in the village were Boris Yolin and his wife Sarah, who left for Israel in October, 1990. Boris Yolin died in Israel in 2015, and his wife Sarah died in 2017 at the age of 94.

Famous Jews from Troyanov

Aharon Gordon (1856, Troyanov – 1922, Israel), Zionist thinker.

Aharon Gordon

Aharon Gordon

Yacob Roitenberg (1910, Troyanov – 1988, Moscow), soviet mathematician.

Yacob Roitenberg

Yacob Roitenberg

Jewish cemetery

There still is a caretaker’s cabin by the Jewish cemetery, though the caretaker died long ago, so nobody lives here.

Comments

comments

2 Comments

  1. Rivals the Golovanevsk post in terms of narrative and photo. Well done. The way you are able to track down modern locations for these sites shows the quality of research involved.

  2. Thank you for your work.

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