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

Susan Watchman

My father and his family immigrated to US from Romanian Chernivitsi in 1929. It was definitely populated by Austrian Galicians  and his family had come there from Jagielnica around 1900. It was heavily ethnically German and German speaking among the Jews and German (not Yoddish) was my dad's 1st language . And when they immigrated to US they had to get Romanian citizenship papers first. But that could have been a result of the 1922 and 1924 immigration law change. So I would say if they said they were Russian it was the town not the city. 
Susan Watchman
Phoenix, Az

Aline Petzold

I agree with Yohanan's reply to your question.  My Aunt Edith Willig Marcu was born in Chernovitz, (Bukovina) Romania and always professed to be proud of her Austrian origins.  She spoke fluent German as well as Romanian and made dishes with Austrian roots - I remember her delicious Plum Dumplings and her Cherry Soup - dishes that are Austrian rather than typically Romanian. 
Aline Sternberg Petzold, St. Paul MN USA


If your ancestors referred to their origin as Russia in documents prior to WW1 then no doubt that it would be the smaller town from Russia,
because anyone that came from the larger city of Czernovitz, Bokovina  - was a proud Austrian and would never call themselves Russians.
Even during the Romanian time between the wars. 
Unless the documents are from after ww2 when Czernovitz, Bokovina was part of USSR and maybe your ancestors would refer to USSR as Russia. But I doubt it.
Melbourne, Australia

Researching (main surnames):

Banai Lynn Feldstein

Daniel Horowitz had the same issue and I don't know how he determined which one was the correct one for his family, but he then ran an indexing project for one of them for the records microfilmed at FamilySearch, so you can check the database and see if you have matching family in the bigger city.
Banai Lynn Feldstein
Professional Genealogist
Salt Lake City, Utah

Steve Stein



Thanks, but that wasn’t my question. I’m sure there are plenty of Rosenthals everywhere. My question is really which Chernivtsi to pursue, based on the evidence.


Steve Stein

Sherri Bobish

Hi Steve,

I searched for ROSENTHAL (soundex search) and town Chernivtsi at The JewishGen Unified Databases, and I found 33 burial records at a cemetery in Chernivtsi on Zelena Street.
Most spelled ROSENTHAL, but a few spelled ROZENTHAL.  Perhaps you will recognize some of the names (there are photos of the stones.)

According to this site:
The cemetery on Zelena Street is at the Chernivtsi at coordinates  48°18' N, 25°56' E.

Also found a testimony of  Rozental' Shmil' Srulevich
which mentions the Chernivtsi at coordinates 48°32' N 28°07' E.

Good luck in your search,

Sherri Bobish

RATOWSKY / CHAIMSON (Ariogala, Lith.); LEFFENFELD / FINK / KALTER (Daliowa & Jasliska, Pol.)
BOJDA / BLEIWEISS (Tarnow & Tarnobrzeg, Pol.); WALTZMAN / WALZMAN (Ustrzyki Dolne, Pol.)
LEVY (Tyrawa Woloska, Pol.); SOLON / SOLAN / SOKOLSKY (Grodek, Bialystok, Pol.)
BOBISH / BLUMENKRANZ / APPEL / WEINER / ROSENBERG (Vysoko-Litovsk, Brest, Biala Podlaska)

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