» Articles » Jewish Lokhvytsia

Jewish Lokhvytsia

The first mention of Lokhvytsia dates back to the 1300s. In the late 1660s, Lokhvytsia, then just a large village, became part of the Russian Empire. The impetus for the development of Lokhvytsia as a city was the receipt in 1644 of the Magdeburg Law.

Since the 17th century, Jews began to settle here. At different times, they accounted for up to half of all inhabitants. So, if in 1847 there were 927 Jews in Lokhvytsia, then in 1897 - already 2465, which accounted for 52% of the population of the town. The largest number of Jews - 2687 - was registered in 1920, but then this figure gradually decreased. According to the Soviet census of 1939, 614 Jewish residents remained in the city.

But let's go back a little, to the times when Lokhvytsia reached the peak of its development, largely due to the hard work and commercial streak of the representatives of its Jewish community.

According to archival data, at the end of the 18th century, Jewish merchants from Lokhvytsia owned several mills, storehouses, breweries and taverns. The lists of Lokhvytsia merchants included at least 20 Jewish surnames. The Jewish community actively developed in the city, and two synagogues were built.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Lokhvytsia was a district town of the Poltava province of the Russian Empire. In 1900-1922, the rabbi of Lokhvytsia was Efroim Efroimson. As of 1910, there were already four synagogues in the city, and a private women's elementary school.

In the early 1900s, Jews in Lokhvytsia made up half of its inhabitants, and in the central part (shtetl) - almost the majority. It is worth noting that the influence of the Jewish community on the social and economic life of the town was truly enormous. Jewish entrepreneurs began to open many commercial enterprises, including a printing house that printed local newspapers and the Jewish magazine Zarya. Before the First World War, in 1913, Jews owned two city hotels, all grocery and jewelry stores, three pharmacies, a cinema, two coffee houses, a bathhouse, two bakeries and a savings and loan partnership. The only lumberjack in Lokhvytsia was also Jewish. 

The revolution of 1917 and the establishment of Soviet power became one of the reasons for the decrease in the proportion of Jews among the inhabitants of Lokhvytsia. In the years 1920-1930, during a period of active industrialization, many Jews, especially young people, moved to large industrial centers of the country.

With the outbreak of World War II, part of the Jews fled to the eastern regions of the USSR. During the occupation of Lokhvytsia by the Nazi troops, a ghetto was organized in the town. Almost all the local Jews and refugees remaining in the city were kept in it, in inhuman conditions. In September 1942, all the prisoners of the Jewish ghetto in Lokhvytsia - 287 people - were shot by the invaders.