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Jewish city of Karaganda

The first Jews appeared in Kazakhstan in the 1860s. However, Karaganda as a village arose at the beginning of the twentieth century, and received the status of the city in 1934. Therefore, the appearance of Jews here is associated with the construction of five-year plans, the exile of political prisoners and the campaign to raise virgin lands.

After the revolution, Jews gained access to education and top positions in the social hierarchy of society. Therefore, Jewish youth who shared the ideals of communism, having received a technical education, voluntarily went to the construction sites of communism.

After the industrial development of the Karaganda basin began, Jewish specialists came to work here in mines and in design institutes. Therefore, the researcher Alexander Abramovich in his work “On the History of the Jews of Karaganda” calculated that in the period from 1947 to 1954, 644 personnel workers of the Karagandaugol plant received personal ranks. Of these, 41 or 6.1% of the total were Jews.

According to archival documents, in 1951 at the Karagandagiproshakht Institute, out of 93 who received personal ranks, 22 (23.6%) were Jews.

These two facts testify to the important role of Jewish experts in the development of the coal industry in Karaganda, since the award dates coincide with the time of the anti-Semitic campaign in the rest of the USSR.

In the early 1950s, a state medical university appeared in Karaganda. In the early years of its existence, 11 of the 14 professors who taught at the university were Jews. There is information that the rector received a reprimand from the party line with the phrase "for clogging cadres." It is known that among the Jewish employees of the university there were more than 20 people who went through the fronts of World War II.

Another source of replenishment of the Jewish population of Karaganda was the repression of the 1930s and the exile of victims of the struggle against cosmopolitanism in 1948-1953. In the 1920s, Jews managed to occupy leading positions in the new social hierarchy. Therefore, already in the 1930s, they became one of the first victims of repression. There were several camps in the Karaganda region where convicts were sent. After serving their sentences, many of them remained to live in a city where it was easier for former prisoners to find work, compared to other regions of the USSR.

After a wave of anti-Semitic repressions of the late 1940s - early 1950s, translator Yu. Eichenwald and disident A. Yesenin-Volpin got to Karaganda.

With the outbreak of World War II, refugee Jews from the western regions of Ukraine and Belarus, as well as the Baltic states, appeared in Karaganda. Some Jews came to the city because of evacuation in 1941, and remained here after the end of the war.

In 1990, the Center for Jewish Culture appeared in Karaganda, and nine years later, the Jewish community was registered.