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Chernigov

Chernigov, Chernigov County, Chernigov District, Ukraine

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In 1648 the Jews of Chernigov had to flee from the Chmielnicki revolt, when many local Jews were murdered by the Cossacks or enslaved by Crimean Tatars. The Jews returned to Chernigov at the end of the 17th century. At the end of the 19th century the Jews comprised one third of the town’s total population. In 1905 a pogrom that resulted in several Jews being killed and many wounded followed the promulgation of the October Manifesto. In 1906 members of a newly organized Jewish self-defense committee were imprisoned by Russian authorities for the illegal possession of weapons and the committee was disbanded.
During the Russian civil war Chernigov suffered from several pogroms carried out by Petlyura’s forces and Denikin’s army. The results included the killing of several Jews and the looting of Jewish property.
In the 1920s and 1930s state Yiddish schools operated in Chernigov and in 1926 there was a chamber in the Chernigov court where deliberations were conducted in Yiddish. In the 1920s and 1930s many Jews left Chernigov for larger cities while the city itself became atractive for Jews from towns in the area, as well as for non-Jews. In 1939 the city had 12,204 Jews, who comprised 17.8 percent of the total population.
Chernigov was occupied by German troops on September 9 (or on September 12), 1941. Before the occupation many local Jews succeeded in leaving the town to join the Red Army or to escape to the Soviet interior. During the war Jews from the Chernigov District were active in partisan units; some of them, for example Kamenskiy, Berenshtayn, and Gilchik, even became partisan leaders. Chernigov's Jews were ordered by the German authorities to register on September 29, 1941. They were also ordered to wear white armbands with yellow Stars of David and were recruited for forced labor. The Germans moved the Jews of Chernigov into a small area around the old market. At the beginning of the second third of September 1941 the detachment of Sonderkommando 7b shot 19 Jews from Chernigov. On October 23 116 Jews and on October 24 another 144 Jews were shot by Sonderkommando 4a. A few days later the same unit arrested 49 Jews (according to one German source) or 48 people, including 30 Jews and 18 partisans (according to another German source), and shot them.
In November 1941 most of the remaining Jews were shot by Germans. Those Chernigov Jews who were not shot during the November operation were shot in their own homes or imprisoned in the Chernigov city prison and, then, shot in the area of the prison or in another location. On December 1, 1941 only 57 Chernigov Jews were still alive. They were all shot by Germans and their helpers in late 1941 or in 1942. Due to the lack of local specialists, some Jews from Hungary and Rumania were transported to Chernigov and kept alive to work in labor camps in 1942/1943. Most of them died from the unbearable conditions or were murdered by Germans.
Many Jews from various locations in the Chernigov District were murdered in Chernigov city. Jews from Shchors, Kozelets, Koryukovka, and other locations were imprisoned in Chernigov and, then, shot later.
Chernigov was liberated by the Red Army on September 21, 1943.