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Poltava, Poltava County, Poltava District, Ukraine

To enlarge the map click here Pupils of Jewish school in the school vegetable garden, Poltava, before 1917 Pupils of Jewish school in the school vegetable garden, Poltava, before 1917 YVA Photo Collection 4147/55

The first Jews settled in Poltava at the beginning of the 19th century. Their number increased due to the migration of Jews from Lithuania and Belorussia, as well as to the rapid economic growth of the city. In 1897 Poltava's 11,046 Jews comprised 20.5 percent of the total population. In 1918 - 1920 Poltava Jews suffered from pogroms perpetuated by various military detachments that occupied the city: in 1919 59 Jews were murdered in a pogrom, and in 1920 - 9 more. In 1939 the Jewish population of Poltava was 12,860 or 9.9 percent of the total population.
Poltava was occupied on September 19, 1941. Many Jews succeeded in leaving Poltava before the German troops entered the city. From the very first days of the occupation the German authorities began to abuse and despoil the Jewish population. The Jews were required to wear a patch with the Star of David and were conscripted for forced labor, even if they were advanced in years. Anyone disobeying orders was shot. In Poltava the Germans conducted two censuses. The Jewish council that was made responsible for counting the Jewish population registered 5,000 Jews (including 2,800 adults) in September, 1941. The second census, that apparently took place in October 1941, registered 3,500 Jews living in the city. The Germans conducted two major murder operations in Poltava, the first in late September and the second in late November, 1941. Those Jews who had avoided the registration were later captured and shot. In addition German sources report the murder of 161 Jews in early October 1941. Poltava was liberated by the Red Army on September 23, 1943.