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Polonnoye

Polonnoye, Polonnoye County, Kamenets-Podolsk District, Ukraine

To enlarge the map click here Current view of Polonnoye
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Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013 Current view of Polonnoye
Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013
Genesis Philanthropy Group project Former synagogue, currently a museum dedicated to  Perets Markish
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Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013 Former synagogue, currently a museum dedicated to Perets Markish
Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013
Genesis Philanthropy Group project Gravestone at the old Jewish cemetery
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Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013 Gravestone at the old Jewish cemetery
Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013
Genesis Philanthropy Group project

the first reference to Jews in Polonnoye relates to 1601. By the mid- 17th century a large Jewish community existed there. In 1648 almost 10,000 Jews (including the well-known kabbalist Shimshon of Ostropol) who had taken refuge within the town's walls were massacred by the troops of Bogdan Chmielnitsky. In 1684 the community was permitted to build new homes but in the early 18th century it suffered attacks by the Haidamaks and by Polish and Swedish soldiers. In 1783 a Jewish printing press, that mainly produced Hasidic texts, was founded in the city. In 1897 the Jewish population amounted to 7,910 or 48.6 percent of the total population. A specialty of the local Jewish artisans was the laying of parquet flooring. Jews were also employed at a porcelain factory and various workshops. In December 1905 the local Jews were attacked in a pogrom and on September 24-25, 1917 a unit of infantry reservists injured 9 Jews in another pogrom. About 20 Jews were murdered during the Russian civil war (1918-20) in pogroms carried out by Ukrainian and by Red Army soldiers.
Under Soviet rule many Jewish artisans began working in factories, but a considerable number continued to practice their traditional trades. Perets Markish (1895-1952) a well-known Soviet Yiddish poet and playwright, was born in Polonnoye. In the early 1930s a Jewish kolkhoz was established on the outskirts of town. Polonnoye had a government-sponsored Yiddish school. On the eve of World War II the town's 4,171 Jews comprised 30 percent of the total population.
The Germans occupied Polonnoye on July 6, 1941. Only few Jews managed to flee the town before the German occupation. At the end of August a headquarter's unit of Einsatzgruppen C murdered over one hundred Jewish men in the town. On September 2, 1,275 Jews were murdered in the forest on the outskirts of the town. 15 Jewish families (nearly 50 Jews), refugees from Polonnoye, were executed in Lyubar (Zhitomir District), along with local Jews, in the same month. In October 1941 the approximately 1,300 Jews (mainly skilled workers and their families) who had been left in the town, as well as some other Jews from nearby villages, were locked into the ghetto located on the town's outskirts at the former granite quarry on Baranovskaya Street. Before the war the place was used as a Soviet concentration camp for "public enemies." The ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by Ukrainian policemen. The inmates were housed in several barracks. A Jew named Rogel was appointed ghetto elder. The Jews were ordered to wear yellow patches on their chests and backs and to perform various kinds of forced labor, such as removing tombstones from the old Jewish cemetery. Apparently in the late autumn of 1941, the Jews from the nearby village of Labun (or Novo Labun), as well as some specialists from the town of Poninka, were also incarcerated in the ghetto. Due to the crowding, hunger, and poor hygienic conditions typhus broke out in the ghetto and claimed many victims. According to one testimony, from time to time old and sick people were taken from the ghetto and shot to death.
On June 25, 1942 almost all the 750 inmates of the ghetto (except for several specialists) were murdered by a German unit outside the town, near the Poninka train station.
Polonnoye was liberated by the Red Army on January 8, 1944.