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Vasilkov is a city in Kiev region with a population, as of 2013, of 36,672.

Vasilkov was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1686 and belonged to the Kiev-Pechersk Monastery till 1785.
In 1796, it became a center of the Vasilkov uyezd of Kiev gubernia.

In 1648, Vasilkov was conquered by chmielnicki’s cossacks who massacred its inhabitants, Jews and Poles alike. Since Vasilkov was annexed to Russia in 1686 no Jewish community existed there until the second partition of Poland in 1792.

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Vasilkov was a Chasidic community and for some time David b. Nahum Twersky of Chernobyl lived there. The Jews in Vasilkov engaged in crafts, small-scale business, and worked in local tanneries.

Vasilkov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913:

Jewish population of Vasilkov:
1799 – 1478 Jews
1802 – 1889 Jews
1861 – 2999 Jews
1897 – 5156 (40%)
1926 – 3061 (14%)
1939 – 1736 (11%)
2017 ~ 100 Jews

In 1861, there was one synagogue and two prayer houses in Vasilkov.Tailoring and trade were the most spread occupations amongst Jews of Vasilkov uiezd. There were approximately 4,400 Jews in the town and nearby villages.

In 1881 the town experience a several-day-long pogrom during which a number of Jews were murdered and Jewish houses and property were looted or destroyed.

The number of Jews in Vasilkov grew steadily in the course of the XIX century. In 1897 Vasilkov’s 5,156 Jews constituted 39.3 percent of the total population.

Former synagogue in Vasilkov. It was closed in 1936:

A communist’s star instead of Star of David in the window on the top of aaron kodesh of Vasylkov synagogue:

Four synagogues and 34 prayer houses with four rabbis were officially registered in 1907.
In 1909 there was a Talmud-Еorah, a primary girls training school, and two private specialized schools. The Vaisberg brothers owned three tanneries.

Russian soldiers in Vasilkov, 1910’s:

Old PreRevolution building in the center of Vasilkov:

Information about Vasilkov Talmud Torah before 1917:

Civil War

The Jews of Vasilkov suffered greatly from the violence accompanying the years of revolution and civil war in Russia. In the series of pogroms staged in 1919 by various warring parties a number of Jews was killed, Jewish women were raped, and Jewish property was severely damaged or destroyed.

Ruins in Vasikov after the pogrom, November 1919

Ruins in Vasikov after the pogrom, November 1919

In February 1919, Petlyura’s army conducted pogroms in Vasilkov, massacring 50 Jews and 60 Russians suspected of being communists; the Jewish community was forced to pay a special contribution.

Many of Vasilkov’s Jews left the town during this period, seeking refuge in Kiev.

List of pogrom victims provided by genealogist Nadya Lipes and


Between the Wars

When the Soviet regime was established, Jewish communal life was discontinued.
In 1926, the Jews in Vasilkov numbered 3061 (14. 4% of the total population).

The ban imposed by Soviets on any kind of private economic activity seriously affected the Jewish population of Vasilkov. In the 1930’s there was a Jewish collective farm, “Nayer Veg” (New Way) in Vasilkov.

PreRevolution building in the center of Vasilkov

PreRevolution building in the center of Vasilkov

In addition, many of Vasilkov’s Jews found employment at the local leather factory.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s there was a Yiddish school in Vasilkov.

In 1939 1,736 Jews lived in Vasilkov, where they constituted 11.4 percent of the total population.


Vasilkov was occupied by Wehrmacht on August 31st, 1941.

Vasilkov in winter 1941/1942. Photo of unknown German soldier

Vasilkov in winter 1941/1942. Photo of unknown German soldier

On August 22nd 1941, a leading command ZK 4 was sent to Vasilkov. All Jews were ordered to gather at the old market. After that, they were taken away in 3 cars to the ravine where the shooting took place. Germans shot more than 300 Jews (according to other sources – 105). The shootings of Jews took place in different places: in the territory of Pokrovskii cemetery, in the sewerage field, in the ravine of Zastugne, in the yard of the mill “Zagotzerno”, and in the railway station Vasilkov-I.

Holocaust mass killing site in Vasilkov

Holocaust mass killing site in Vasilkov

Memorial on the killing site (former military shooting range):

Shootings of the Jewish war prisoners were carried out in the town. A transit-camp was located in the yard of the mill “Zagotzerno”. Those Jews who had managed to come back home were arrested by the Ukrainian police and sent to this camp.

In July-August 1942, 40 Jews and 11 gypsies were shot by the district police in Vasilkov. Jews brought to Vasilkov from other towns and villages of Vasilkov County, apparently including Jews from Borovaya, were murdered in Vasilkov, together with local Jews.

A lot of Jews managed to escape from the place of the execution. In September 1941, Jew named Roza hit the executioner and ran away during the shooting.

A message about four Jews’ escape from the prison of Vasilkov was published in the local newspaper. The release date of the newspaper was October 10th 1942, meaning that the Jews were pursued even after the actions of total destruction.

Righteous among the nations in Vasilkov and Vasilkov district:

Jewish soldiers from Vasilkov who was perished during WWII:

The mass grave of the Holocaust victims was opened in 1943, immediately after the liberation of Vasilkov. The bodies were transferred into coffins. Children were buried in coffins together with adults. In total, all the coffins fit into 70 underwater pits. They were buried in the centre near the police building:

Vasilkov was liberated by the Red Army on November 6, 1943.

Two articles about Holocaust in Vasilkov from newspaper “Nadezhda”:

PostWWII period

After the war a lot of Jewish families returned to Vasilkov. Jewish religious life was prohibited. Iakov Iosifovich Zarkh (1904-1976) was an unofficial rabbi. The community gathered money to help those who were in need.

A minian, mostly consisting of elderly Jews, was gathered in different houses because of the persecution by the authorities. Minian was also gathered in carpenter Lankel Margulis’ house. His two daughters live in Israel now. The following Jews of Vasilkov used to attend the prayers: Bluvshteins, Aizenberg, Perlovich, Zark, Zilman, Galperin, Shatiykins, Kolonskiis.

Matsah was baked in Ukrainian Khors’ house, as he wasn’t persecuted by the authorities and had a stove.

Former synagogue in Vasilkov, now it is a school №1. In the 1950’s, the attic of the school was open and all Torah scrolls and books which had been kept there were thrown to the street. Children were playing with them.

Former synagogue in Vasilkov, now it is a school №1. In the 1950’s, the attic of the school was open and all Torah scrolls and books which had been kept there were thrown to the street. Children were playing with them.

Site of small wooden synagogue behind the building of the bigger synagogue.

Site of small wooden synagogue behind the building of the bigger synagogue.

In the 1950’s, the attic of the school was open and all Torah scrolls and books which had been kept there were thrown to the street. Children were playing with them.

In PostWWII times, Yacob Zarh was unofficial Rabbi of Vasilkov Jewish community. Blushtein and Aisek Aizenberg were unofficial gabaim and collected money for different Jewish needs e.g. salary for cemetery keeper and help for needy Jews.

Grave of Yacob Zarh in local New Jewish cemetery

Grave of Yacob Zarh in local New Jewish cemetery


A Jewish community was organized 20 years ago in 1997. Semen Isaakovich Teninskii was its first head. When he had died, Mikhail Gershkovich Perlovich took his place. Next chairman was Tatiana Markusovna Rozenberg.
In 2017 Iefim Zavadskii was elected as the head of the community.

Famous Jews from Vasilkov

Volf Mendelevich Beilis (1923, Vasilkov – 2001) an orientalist, historian.

Volf Mendelevich Beilis

Volf Mendelevich Beilis

Itskhok Polishchuk (1882, Vasilkov – 1964, Chicago) a publicist, MD.

Itskhok Polishchuk

Itskhok Polishchuk

Iakov Aizikovich Khelemskiy (1914, Vasilkov – 2003, Moscow), a poet, writer, interpreter.

Iakov Khelemskiy

Iakov Khelemskiy

Eli Gershevich Spivak (1890, Vasilkov – 1950, Moscow, Lubianka jail) a linguist, literary critic, professor.

Eli Spivak

Eli Spivak


Vasilkov census of 1897 has the following Jewish names: Kovelman, Shifris, Nerubai, Moloment, Nemtsov, Iolin, Fuks, Kats, Iolin, Eidlis, Perel, Iudkis, Kotliar, Iaroslavskii, Ritbarg, Chernobilskii, Rovner, Kisilenko, Novak, Rozenfeld, Lishchiner, Dligach, Ozirianskii, Daich, Rabinovich, Ozirianskaia, Zhuravitskii, Chudnovskii, Grach, Roitbarg, Novoselitskii, Poberetskii, Kofman, Sukhkolinskii, Pritsker, Kotsupei, Sandler, Pritsker, Kortsev, Podgaietskii, Borsuk, Blumen, Koshovatskii, Brodskii, Brodskii, Zlotnik, Bliumen, Feldshtein, Sigalov, Brodkin, Alter, Zaritskii, Kazan, Barishpolskii, Vainshtein, Libok, Bas, Soroka, Cherniavskii, Drobner, Pritsker, Pritsker, Sandler, Sokolovskii, Vaismanova, Vaismanova, Dubinskii, Menis, Drobner, Cherniakhovskii, Boguslavskii, Dubinskii, Olshanskii, Vishnevetskii, Vishnevetskii, Vilpan, Shub, Matiushanskaia, Borodkova, Svidkii, Lishchinskii, Goldshtein, Goldshtein, Barishpolskii, Pritsker, Cherkas, Fishman, Goldman, Ruvinskii, Pishchonskii, Tonkonogii, Shinkarov, Pritskerova, Iampolskaia, Libok, Levik, Novoselitskii, Brodskaia, Filkovich, Shapira, Vaksshokher, Korelman.

Also, valuable records regarding Vasilkov Jews in XIX century can be found on this Wikipedia page.

Holocaust execution site

In 1951, bodies were reburied from this place to Jewish cemetery.
In 2021, memorial was open in this place. 

Article about opening the monument on this place.

Old Jewish cemetery

In 1950’s, it was destroyed. Only small amount of the graves were transferred to new Jewish cemetery.

Destroyed Old Vasilkov Jewish cemetery on the map. Photo from the Surveys of Jewish cemeteries by ECJF

Destroyed Old Vasilkov Jewish cemetery on the map. Photo from the Surveys of Jewish cemeteries by ECJF

New Jewish cemetery

Cemetery was created in 1950’s.


In 1951 the bodies of the Holocaust victims from Vasilkov were reburied in the town’s Jewish cemetery and a fenced off obelisk was erected. The Russian inscriptions on the plaques attached to this monument say: “Their eternal memory will live in the hearts of all their descendants. To those shot by the German-Fascist barbarians in 1941-1942” and “The remains of the victims of Fascism are buried here.” The monument has no indication of the Jewish identity of the victims.

New Holocaust memorial opening in local Jewish cemetery, 2018:

In 2017, Yacob Tamarkin repaired a memorial plaque on Holocaust mass grave and restored names of killed Jews. They were hidden on opposite site of the plaque according to request of Soviet authorities in 1950’s.

Yacob Tamarkin with results of his job

Yacob Tamarkin with results of his job

In 1950’s, a house of the watchman was built in a Jewish cemetery. He received a salary of 60 roubles from the community. Later the watchman got an apartment in a new house and moved from the cemetery. The house was demolished.

New memorial plaque was placed on memorial, 2017

New memorial plaque was placed on memorial, 2017

New plate on memorial

New plate on the memorial




  1. Thank you.

  2. My grandmother listed her place of origin as Vasylikov Kiev in her immigration papers yet I don’t see her last name, Sorin under the genealogy section above. She emigrated in 1913 and left many family members behind.

  3. Thanks for this great article and especially the photos! They’re terrific. My father’s family is from Vasilkiv, they fled the area after many members of the family were killed during the pogroms of the early 1900s. My great-grandfather and great-grandmother Joseph and Minnie Berkovich-Chazinsky emigrated to the US (where they were “given” the surname of Berkow!) and settled in Baltimore. Joseph was President of his local synagogue in SW Baltimore for 20 years. In 2009 Joseph and Minnie’s son-in-law Bernard Siegel donated an original Torah from Vasilkiv which had been buried for safety during the Holocaust to the current version of that same synagogue in Baltimore. The “Siegel Torah” was dedicated at the Baltimore synagogue with one of my 1st cousins in attendance, and it resides there to this day. I love the story of my family and our people.

  4. My maternal Grandfather Misha Shilstood was born in Vasilkov in 1916. He was drafted into the Soviet Army in the first week of the German invasion on June 22 1941. All of my grandfathers relatives were murdered by the SS and their Ukrainian collaborators. Only my Great Grandmother survived through the last evacuation of the city before it fell to the Germans 6th Army Group South. My grandfather was badly wounded during the battle of Stalingrad and spent the rest of the war recovering from his wounds. After the war he and my great grandmother moved to Kiev.

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