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Propoysk: Jewish history

The former Propoysk was renamed Slavgorod in 1945. This Belarusian town is located about 70 kilometers from Mogilev. The first mention of it contains the Charter of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania of 1136. According to legend, the name of the city is associated with the small river Pronya flowing nearby (in some ancient sources - Propa).

Jews began to settle in the town around the beginning of the 18th century. So, according to some information, in 1766 there were about 150 of them in Propoysk. The separation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772 led to the withdrawal of Propoysk to the Russian Empire and its transfer to the possession of Prince Golitsyn.

According to the volost documents, in 1880 there were 341 wooden houses in the city, 154 of which belonged to Jewish families. At that time, there were about 40 trading shops, a tile and tannery, 2 mills, 2 hotels, a post office, a hospital and a school. Most of the commercial enterprises belonged to people from the Jewish community. There was, of course, a synagogue in Propoysk, as well as 4 Jewish prayer schools. And according to the census as of 1897, 2304 people out of 4350 inhabitants of Propoysk were Jews.

Jewish enterprises in Propoysk, such as a brewery, a butter churn, a brick factory and others, mainly worked for the local consumer. However, part of the production of the tile factory was exported to other regions, and it is even known that Propoysk tiles were supplied for facing some chambers of the Moscow Kremlin.

With the advent of Soviet power in Propoysk, in the 1920s, part of the Jews left for big cities, and the rest worked in various crafts and petty trade. They created their own craft cooperatives and even worked on collective farms, which began to be massively created by the Soviets. According to archival documents, the Jewish school continued to operate in the 1920s and 1930s, but it was closed in 1938. As of 1928, there were six synagogues in Propoysk.

It is worth noting that under the Soviet regime, Propoysk received the official status of the city only in 1938. Before the Second World War, in 1939, there were 4,700 inhabitants in Propoysk, of which 1,038 were Jews. It was approximately 22% of the city's population.

At the beginning of the war, many Jewish families were evacuated to the eastern part of the USSR. The city was captured by the German occupation troops in August 1941, which created a Jewish ghetto there in October. In November of the same year, the Jews of the Propoysk ghetto were shot.

The city was liberated by Soviet troops in November 1943. On the day of liberation, November 25, Propoysk was renamed into Slavgorod.