Ukraine SIG #Ukraine Re: Pogroms in central Ukraine circa 1916-1918 #ukraine


Moshe & Esther Davis <davis@...>
 

Does anyone know of any pogroms that occurred in central Ukraine
sometime during 1916 thru 1918?
In both my wife's and my own family there are stories handed down
from the pogroms that took place during that period of time.
My wife's mother's family was >from Novograd-Wolinsk (Zvhil), a
large city located between Zitomer and Rovne on the main road
heading west >from Kiev. My wife's grandfather (a teenager at the
time) was drafted into the Russian army during WW1. Soon after
he returned to Zvhil after the war in 1919, the Russian revolution
broke out. The Ukrainian leader Petlura at that time led a
widespread series of pogroms (about 1,400 separate pogroms in
the Ukraine alone) in which about seventy thousand Jews were
murdered and about an equal number wounded. After carrying out
a major pogrom in the city Proskurov, Petlura and his troops came
on trains to Zvhil. The local Jews were terrified, and went to the
"commander" of Zvhil to beg that Petlura's troops not be allowed
into the city. Negotiations took place in which Petlura agreed not
to allow his troops to leave the train station in exchange for the city
providing his troops with new boots. All of the Jewish shoemakers
in the city worked nonstop 24-hours daily for almost a week to fill
the order, with the other Jews of the city bringing them food, drinks,
and coffee around the clock. Then Petlura demanded that the city
contribute new troops to his army. All young men were ordered to
show up to be drafted, under penalty of death. Zayde was in this
draft call. He went wearing his Russian WW1 uniform, and being
able to speak fluent Ukrainian and by faking his name was able to
hide the fact that he was Jewish. He was drafted into Petlura's
army, which moved south towards Odessa. He personally
witnessed other pogroms perpetrated by those Ukrainian troops. In
an autobiographical letter written to his grandchildren, he
specifically mentions the name of a village "Shmilka" where he
describes a pogrom where Jews were beaten and beheaded. Later
he was captured by the Bolsheviks and was considering fighting for
them ("...at least the Bolsheviks didn't murder the Jews like the
Ukrainians...") when the POW camp that he was interned with was
overrun by the Ukrainian troops. Later he was recaptured a second
time by the Bolsheviks. After the revolution, Zayde was on his way
back home when a Ukrainian >from Zvhil recognized him in a train
station as a Jew and tried to murder him. Zayde escaped by hiding
between train cars on the railroad sidings. He returned to Zvhil,
where he married in 1923, and was able to get out of Russia by
obtaining a visa to Cuba in 1926. In 1955, just before Castro took
over Cuba, the family escaped Cuba for the USA.

That was in my wife's family.

My own father's family was >from the village Szeleslonka (also
known as Leh or as Shirukiy Lug, located between Chust and
Sziget) in the area of former Austro-Hungarian Marmaros which is
now within the southwestern border of the Ukraine.

With the defeat of the Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian empire in WW1
and the death of King Franz Josef in 1919, the Austro-Hungarian
empire disintegrated. When the Russian revolution broke out in that
same year, there was an abortive attempt by ethnic Ukrainians
(Rusyn) who lived both in Russia and in the northeastern regions of
Hungary (bordering the Russian Ukraine) to establish an
independent Ukrainian state. As a part of this larger attempted
political uprising by the Ukrainians, there was a local antisemetic
pogrom carried out in 1919 by the ethnic Ukrainians-Ruthenians in
the village Szeleslonka. The Ruthenians rioted and destroyed
Jewish property and homes and forcibly drove the Jews out of town
in the freezing winter. I don't know if anyone was actually killed in
Szeleslonka, but in the Chust Yizkor Book it is mentioned that
people were in fact killed during this uprising in the nearby city
Chust.

The Jewish refugees >from Szeleslonka hid in the forests and found
refuge in neighboring towns where the local Jewish population was
larger and better able to defend themselves. I am in possession of
family letters giving some details of this pogrom. I was told other
details in speaking with various Holocaust survivors >from
Szeleslonka and vicinity.

When some of the young Jewish men >from Szeleslonka who had
served in the Hungarian army in WW1 returned home >from the war
and found out what the local Ruthenians had done, they took
revenge by torching and burning down most of the village.

Order was restored to the area when in 1920 Subcarpathian
Ruthenia (including northern and central Marmaros) was added to
the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia. The Czech army
entered the area and put down the local Ukrainian rabble.

Moshe Davis
Jerusalem

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