Jewish Agricultural Colonies In the Ukraine

Update Jan-July 2010

Researcher: Chaim Freedman
Website manager: Max Heffler

                                           Berel Komisaruk House and farmyard, Grafskoy c.1908

Considerable material has been added to the site over the last year. With the growing accessibility of Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian archives previously undiscovered material comes to light. Descendants of colonists, living in the former Soviet Union, are extracting material and developing their own sites.

Two Russian books which contain extremely valuable information about the Ekaterinoslav colonies:

L. Uleinikov [Binshtok], Jewish Agricultural Colonies in Ekaterinoslav Province in 1890, St Petersburg, 1891,
I. Kankrin, Jewish Agricultural Colonies of Aleksandrov Uyezd Ekaterinoslav Province, Ekaterinoslav, 1893.

The books are the result of a very detailed census of the colonies made by Uleinikov in 1890 and Kankrin in 1893. Each book has an introduction with a general overview and statistics. The authors are quite biased - Uleinikov is a supporter of Jewish agricultural colonies and Kankrin is a severe critic. The most valuable feature of these books is the detailed census of the colonists' households. The books have also a brief overview of each colony with summary of history and facilities. Kankrin's book has detailed house/street handwritten plans of the ten colonies he studied, including sketches of the types of buildings.

                Menakhem Mendel Komisaruk house in Grafkoy after the Revolution
Uleinikov has complete lists of heads of all families (surname, name and patronymic) in 17 colonies of Ekaterinoslav Province, Aleksandovsk and Mariupol Uyezds, with detailed record of family composition, military service, type of house, agricultural implements, livestock, land and its subdivision within family and notes about profession etc.

Kankrin studied in a similar fashion 10 colonies in Aleksandrovsk Uyezd and has even more information about colonists' families. He was obsessed with the idea that colonists in reality remained artisans and not worked much as agriculturalists.

The Russian Foreword to Uleynikov's book has been translated

An analysis of the validity of the conclusions of Ulaynikov and Kanrin was added entitled "Life on the Jewish Agricultural colonies – success or failure"

An example is provided of one entry for the Komisaruk family of Grafskoy.

Holocaust material has been added with an interview of Ukrainian residents of former Jewish colony Novozaltopol by Father Patrick Desbois, which providesa horrifying account which demonstrates who actually carried out the massacre of nearly 800 Jews

                                        Novozlatopol Mass Grave exhibit Gulyai Polye museum
Novozlatopol Holocaust memorial

Photographs have been added from the St. Petersburg Film archive and World ORT Photographic archive. These rare photos were taken of many colonies in 1904 and 1922 showing public buildings such as schools, synagogues, municipal offices, and farmhouses.

Grafskoy school
colony reservoir and horses

Bogodarovka synagogue

A Yiddish book"Nayzlatopler Rayon" [Novozlatopol Region] is an account of the Sovietized colonies after the Revolution and Civil War.

Comments on this book appear in an article "Destruction of Jewish Tradition under the Soviet Administration" assessing the affect of Sovietization on the destruction of Jewish cultural and religious life with particular reference to the role of the Yevsekzia.

                                             Grafskoy synagogue converted to club.

Zelenopole synagogue prior to the Revolution

Zelenopole synagogue converted to theatre

Memoirs of Grafskoy 1907-1921 by the son of a rabbi of the colony include a description of life on the colony and the reaction to the pogroms during the Russian Civil War which took place after the Revolution.

                                        Mass grave Trudoliubovka after Makhno pogrom 1919

Nechayevka after Makhno pogrom 1919

Prenumeranten Lists [The list of subscribers] from three books which include many residents of the colonies.

Links – a new page with links to useful sites.

Yakov Pasik's Russian site is updated from time to time. The site includes material in both English and Russian together with photographs and maps.

Thanks go to those who extracted, translated, processed and contributed to the acquisition of this material:

Bernshtam, Pavel
Comisarow, Mel
Farber-Sherman, Mitja
Freedman, Chaim
Giller, Lisa.
Govor, Elena
Heffler, Max
Komissarouk, Joseph
Pasik, Yakov
Ronn, Michoel

Volunteers are sought for further translations.