Experience: Kamenets Podolsk

Agnes Lugosi
“Kamenets-Podolsk, Kamenets-Podolsk County, Kamenets-Podolsk District, Ukraine

The first reference to Jews in Kamenets-Podolsk dates from the 15th century. Two centuries later many Jews found refuge in the city during the Chmielnitsky uprising. 

Kamenets-Podolsk was an important religious and political center of Ukrainian Jewry. In the 18th century, it became a stronghold of Hassidic Judaism. At the beginning of the 20th century, many Jews in Kamenets-Podolsk were active politically, belonging to various Zionist, socialist, and religious parties. 

“At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Kamenets-Podolsk had a thriving Jewish community numbering about 16,000, comprising 40 percent of the city's total population.
At the beginning of World War I, many Jews left Kamenets-Podolsk. The local Jewish community suffered greatly during the Revolutionary period and the ensuing Civil War, being victimized by more than one side. For example, during the pogrom staged in 1919 by Petlyura's Ukrainian troops between 100 and 200 Jews were murdered while, in February 1921, 16 Jews from Kamenets-Podolsk were shot by Red Army soldiers.
At the beginning of the Soviet period, most local Jews were traders, artisans, officials, or workers. By the beginning of 1930, when private business was restricted, most merchants shifted to crafts and industry. The city had some Yiddish schools, a court with deliberations in Yiddish, Yiddish clubs, and libraries.
Many local Jews left for larger cities, while Jews from shtetls came to live in Kamenets-Podolsk. In January 1939 the Jewish population of Kamenets-Podolsk was 13,796 or 38 percent of the total. 

“Kamenets-Podolsk was occupied by German and Hungarian troops on July 11, 1941. Some Jews succeeded in leaving the city before the arrival of Axis troops. Soon after the start of the occupation some 60 Jewish men were shot in the Old Town. The German military authorities appointed a local administration consisting of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, who proceeded to conduct antisemitic propaganda. 

The Ukrainian administration was responsible for registering the Jewish population of the city, appointing members of a Jewish council, and forcing the Jews to wear a Star of David. Early in August 1941, the Jews of Kamenets-Podolsk were forced into a ghetto on an island in the Old Town. 

“At the end of July 1941 Hungarian occupation authorities began to deport Jews from Carpatho-Rus. By the end of August, more than 10,000 of these Jewish deportees had arrived in Kamenets-Podolsk, where they were also put into the ghetto. 

These deportees were shot on August 26, 1941. On August 27 and 28, 1941 about 10,000 Kamenets-Podolsk Jews were murdered. The remaining 5,000 Jews of the city were put into a new ghetto located in the area of a former chemical institute in the neighborhood of Polskie Folvarki. Later, Jews with specific skills who had been spared in the massacres in the Kamenets-Podolsk area were forced into this ghetto as well. In the summer of 1942 about 800 Jewish children and old people were murdered. The killing of Jews from Kamenets-Podolsk continued throughout 1942. 

“In the second half of that year, the remaining Jews were transferred to the former military camp of the Soviet border-guard training unit. In late October or early November 1942 about 4,000 ghetto inmates were shot. The murder of those Jews who had survived the massacres of 1941-1942 but were caught by Germans and local auxiliaries, and that of Jews brought to Kamenets-Podolsk from surrounding localities continued in 1943. 

A total of almost 30,000 Jews were victims of the Nazi genocide in Kamenets-Podolsk. 
The city was liberated by the Red Army on March 27, 1944.”

Yad Vashem
The Untold Stories: The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR
Accessed on July 25, 2011

Kamenets Podolsk, Ukraine, Postwar, Monument to local Jews.

Yad Vashem Photo Archive
Genia Klein 
Accessed on July 25, 2011