Chernivtsi or Chernivtsi? #russia #ukraine #austria-czech

Steve Stein

I’m revisiting a long-standing brick wall. My wife’s grandfather Harry/Hirsch Rosenthal was most likely from “Czernovitz.”


Unfortunately, there are two such places, both with Jewish communities, and they are not that far apart (less than 200 miles). There is the big city that before World War I was in Bukovina province of Austria-Hungary, 48°32' N 28°07' E , and there is the smaller town that was in Podolia Guberniya of the Russian Empire, 48°18' N 25°56' E. JewishGen indicates that the latter was known in Yiddish as “Kleyn-Tshernevits.” Since both are now in Ukraine, both are currently spelled the same way, Chernivtsi, according to the JG Communities Database.

If all the paper trail for Harry and his siblings - naturalizations, census records, etc. -  indicate that he was a subject of the Russian Empire before World War I, is there any reason not to believe that he was from the town, as opposed to the much larger city? According to the Communities Database, the city was in  Austria/Bukovina, then Romania, then the USSR after World War II, whereas the town was always Russia/USSR except for a brief period during World War II when it was part of Romania.

If anyone thinks they need the documents to decide, let me know.

Steve Stein
Highland Park, NJ USA

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