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Orel

Orel, Orel County, Orel District, Russia

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Orel was located outside of the Pale of Settlement. Jews apparently settled in Orel in the mid 1850s. Orel's Jews were either engaged in commerce or crafts or were army veterans. In 1876 the Jewish community received permission to establish a prayer house and have a crown, i.e., government-appointed, rabbi. In 1897 the 1,750 local Jews comprised 4 percent of Orel's residents. After the construction of rail lines in Kursk and Orel Provinces, Jews became actively involved in the grain trade, transporting grain from the region via Rostov-on-Don. In October 31, 1905 dozens of Jewish shops were looted and several Jews were wounded during a pogrom.
In 1939 Orel's 3,143 Jews comprised 2.8 percent of the total population.
Orel was occupied by German forces on October 3, 1941. Mass shootings of the Orel Jewish population were carried out in the Medvedkovskiy Forest, as well as on the Kurgan forest tract. Mentally handicapped Jews were murdered together other mental patients in the vicinity of Nekrasovka village. Some sources note that at least one Jew was murdered near the Orel brick factory. Other possible sites where Jewish families were shot to death were the area next to the Krestitelskoye cemetery and an area near the local airfield.
Orel was liberated by the Red Army on August 5, 1943.