BOLEKHOV (Pol. Bolechów), city in W. Ukraine; from 1945 to 1991 in the Ukrainian S.S.R. (formerly in *Galicia; from 1772 to 1919 within Austria, subsequently in Poland). Municipal status
The Jews formed a considerable majority of the population until World War II. In 1900 there were 3,323 Jewish inhabitants (78% of the total); in 1925, 2,435. In elections for the Austrian parliament (1867 through 1906), Bolekhov formed part of a constituency with largely Jewish voters. In 1931 there were 2,986 Jews.
[Nathan Michael Gelber]
When World War II broke out, Bolekhov came under Soviet occupation until July 2, 1941, when the town was occupied by Slovak and Ukrainian units under German command. The German commander established a Judenrat, headed by Dr. Reifeisen, who shortly afterward committed suicide. The Jews were segregated in a ghetto established in the autumn of 1941 and the intolerable living conditions there were aggravated by the arrival of refugees from the villages in the district. Relief was organized with great difficulty, and by the spring of 1942 most of them had died of starvation. Some Jews were employed in the local tanneries. Later, Jews were employed in lumber work at a special labor camp. In late October 1941, the German police seized over 1,850 Jews. After being tortured for 24 hours, some succumbed and the rest were brought to a mass grave in the Tanjawa forest and shot. The second mass liquidation took place in early August 1942 when a manhunt was conducted jointly by the Ukrainian and Jewish police for three days. The victims were herded into the courtyard of the city hall, where some 500 persons were murdered by the Ukrainians and some 2,000 dispatched by freight trains to *Belzec death camp where they perished. By 1943 only 1,000 Jews remained in the ghetto, in the work camp, and a few in the Jewish police. These were gradually murdered and only a few managed to escape to the neighboring forests. Some joined the partisans, while others perished there during the first few weeks. By the time of the Soviet conquest (spring of 1944) only a handful of Jews remained alive. In the district of Bolekhov, there was a group of Jewish partisan fighters who operated under the command of a Ukrainian communist.
B. Wasiutyński, Ludnósć ẓydowska w Polsce w w. XIX i XX (1930), 122; Y. Eshel and M.H. Eshel, Sefer ha-Zikkaron li-Kedoshei Boleḥov (1957).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.