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Proskurov

Proskurov, Proskurov County, Kamenets-Podolsk (today Khmelnytskyi) District, Ukraine (today Khmelnytsky) )

To enlarge the map click here Current view of the monument to the Jews murdered in a pogrom in February 1919.
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Photo by Arkadi Zeltser, 2014 Current view of the monument to the Jews murdered in a pogrom in February 1919.
Photo by Arkadi Zeltser, 2014
The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem

Jews are first mentioned as residing in Proskurov in the early 17th century. When the town was linked to the Zhmerinka-Volochisk railway line in the 19th century, this accelerated economic development and boosted Jewish wholesale trade, particularly in lumber, grain, and textiles. Jews also owned a number of factories and printing houses. In 1897 the Jewish population was 11,411, comprising half of the total population. The community maintained nine synagogues, a Jewish hospital, a library, and a theater. On February 15-17, 1919, during the pogroms of the Russian civil war, groups of Symon Petliura's Ukrainian army and others massacred over 1,600 Jews in the city and crippled many of them for life. In the Soviet period a Yiddish school operated in the city. Jews worked in state-owned factories and cooperatives. In 1939 the Jewish population was 14,518 or 38.7 percent of the total population of the city.
The Germans captured Proskurov on July 8, 1941. Some Hungarian troops and labor battalions were quartered in the city. By this time some Jewish refugees from the western parts of Ukraine had fled to the city, while only a few Jewish families managed to leave. According to one testimony, during the first days of the occupation a group of old Jewish men was shot to death at one of the city's wells. Shortly afterwards, registration of the Jewish population was carried out and the Jews were ordered to wear yellow badges on their backs and chests and to hand over their valuables to the Germans. In September 1941, on the order of Gebietskommissar (regional commissar) Schmerbeck, the Jews were ordered to move into a ghetto that was set up in the market place area and a Jewish council (Judenrat) was appointed. The Jews were taken from the ghetto to perform forced labor. On November 4, 1941 the Jews (3,000, according to the German sources, or 5,300, according to a Soviet report) from the ghetto were murdered outside the city. High-ranking SD officers were in charge of this murder operation. After this, Gebietskommissar Schmerbeck ordered the partition of the ghetto into an "old" ghetto and a "second" ghetto, for the skilled workers, along with specialists from the neighboring towns of Chernyi Ostrov and Felshtin. Several Jews who had been hiding in the old ghetto managed to slip into the skilled worker's ghetto and be registered as specialists. Harsh conditions, mainly in the large ghetto, caused high mortality there. In March 1942 the Jews from the town of Nikolayev were forced into the ghetto. In addition throughout 1942 Proskurov had a labor camp, in which Jews from various nearby towns were concentrated. Another labor camp in the nearby village of Leznevo held many Soviet POWs and, later, young Jews from towns in the area. Starting on November 30, 1942 and apparently for more than a week, the remaining Jews from the ghettos, along with the Jewish prisoners from the Proskurov and Leznevo camps, were murdered outside the city. At the end of this murder operation the city was declared "judenfrei."
Proskurov was liberated by the Red Army on March 25, 1944. In 1954 it was renamed Khmelnitskiy.