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Slavuta

Slavuta, Slavuta County, Kamenets-Podolsk District, Ukraine

To enlarge the map click here Old Jewish cemetery in Slavuta
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Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013 Old Jewish cemetery in Slavuta
Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013
Genesis Philanthropy Group project Kever (Tomb) of Moshe Shapira
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Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013 Kever (Tomb) of Moshe Shapira
Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013
Genesis Philanthropy Group project

Jews began living in Slavuta in the 18th century. A Jewish printing press that was established in Slavuta in 1791 by Moshe Shapira, son of the Hassidic rebbe Pinhas of Korets, operated until 1836. In the early 19th century Jews contributed to the development of local industry, establishing factories for producing cloth, paper, soap, and candles. In 1897 the Jewish population of 4,891 comprised 60 percent of the total population. During the Russian civil war (1918-21) several local Jews were murdered in pogroms carried out by Ukrainians.
Under the Soviets most Jews worked in artisan cooperatives, state-owned factories, or the government bureaucracy. In the 1920s and 1930s Slavuta was the seat of a Jewish council and had a ten-year Yiddish school that operated until the end of the 1930s. In 1934 an ancient four-story synagogue designed by an Italian architect was torn down. In 1939 the Jewish population of 5,102 comprised about 34 percent of the total population. An additional 400 Jews resided in Slavuta County.
The Germans occupied Slavuta on July 7, 1941. At the end of July a Jewish council was appointed; it was forced to collect the "tax" that the Germans imposed. The Jews were ordered to wear a Star of David on their clothes. In early August a general census of the town's population was carried out by the occupation authorities.
On August 19, 30, and 31, 1941 members of a Gendarmerie (rural order police) unit shot to death about 1,500 Slavuta Jews in murder operations outside the town.
Apparently in September 1941, about 30 Jewish refugees from Slavuta were executed in Lubar (Zhitomir District), along with local Jews. According to one testimony, Jewish POWs were later shot to death over a period of time in Slavuta's Grosslazarett/Stalag 301Z, a German POW camp two kilometers south-east of the town.
On March 1, 1942 a ghetto was established in Slavuta. It was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by Ukrainian auxiliary policemen. On March 2 the Jews from Annopol and its surroundings were taken to the ghetto and on March 4 - the remaining Jews from Berezdov and Kilikiyev. The elderly, sick, and handicapped were shot to death immediately by the Gendarmerie and Ukrainian auxiliary policemen. According to one testimony, in the same month 500 Jews were taken from the ghetto to work near the town of Berezdov and at the Pechivody quarry: several dozen of them died of hunger and illness while others were shot to death when they were no longer considered able to work. The remaining Jews were returned to the ghetto in the second half of June. Apparently between March and June 175 Jewish craftsmen and specialists from Krasnostav, who had been held in the Berezdov ghetto, were taken to the Slavuta ghetto. The inmates of the Slavuta ghetto were required to wear armbands, hand over all their valuables to German headquarters, and perform forced labor. The ghetto was crowded and starvation and disease claimed many lives there. Fearing an epidemic, the Germans murdered about 300 young children by throwing them into a well located near the entrance to the ghetto.
In May the remaining Jews were resettled in another part of town and were made to hand over to the authorities their apartment keys (with their names and addresses attached to them). Skilled workers were held in a building designated for a workshop.
On June 25 or 26, 1942 the majority of the Jews from the ghetto were shot to death by a German murder squad near the water tower in the Slavuta POW camp. According to one testimony, right afterwards 80 survivors were sent to work in the town of Annopol; 5 of them were shot to death several days later for trying to escape. Skilled workers and their families were temporarily spared, apparently until September 1942. At the very end of June, 13 Jews found in hiding were shot to death by Germans, near the school on Tsvitoska Street. In early December 1942 a large group of Jewish prisoners of war was shot to death by SS men at the Slavuta POW camp.
Slavuta was liberated by the Red Army on January 18, 1944.