CHORTKOV (Pol. Czortków), city in Ukraine; until 1945 in Poland. Jewish settlement in Chortkov dates from the town's establishment in the 16th century. The community numbering some 50 families was almost all massacred during the *Chmielnicki uprisings of 1648–49. Until 1705 Jewish leadership opposed the resettlement of Jews there. A charter granted in 1722 by the lord of Chortkov mentioned the synagogue (of the fortress-synagogue type) and the cemetery; Jews were permitted to reside around the marketplace and its adjoining streets in return for paying an increased impost. The census of 1765 records 746 Jews in Chortkov. After 1772 Chortkov was administered by Austria. The community numbered 3,146 in 1900 and 3,314 in 1921 (out of a total population of 5,191). The beautifully engraved tombstones in the cemetery attest to the presence of a family of Jewish masons in Chortkov at the beginning of the 18th century. The many scholars who resided at Chortkov include Rabbi Shraga, who lived there between 1717 and 1720, and the talmudist Ẓevi Hirsch ha-Levi Horowitz, active there in 1726–54. Chortkov became a ḥasidic center when in 1860 David Moses Friedmann, son of Israel of *Ruzhyn, settled there and founded a "dynasty." The author Karl Emil *Franzos who came from Chortkov described Jewish characters there in his novel Juden yon Barnow.
At the outbreak of World War II there were approximately 8,000 Jews in Chortkov. The Soviet period (September 1939–June 1941) brought far-reaching changes in the structure of the Jewish community, its economy, and educational system. Factories and businesses were nationalized, and many members of the Jewish intelligentsia sought employment in government service. Many refugees from western Poland found assistance and relief through the synagogue, which had become the center for community activity – in part underground. When the Germans attacked the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941), hundreds of young Jews fled, some joining the Soviet army and some escaping into the interior. The town was occupied by the Germans on July 6, 1941, and four days later some 200 Jews were killed in the first pogrom, which was followed in August by the murder of 100 Jews in nearby Czarny Las. In Chortkov itself, 330 Jews were killed that month in the prison courtyard. Shmuel Kruh was appointed head of the Judenrat. His stolid opposition to the Nazi policies resulted in his arrest and execution (on October 12, 1941). In October 1941 several hundred Hungarian Jews were brought to the vicinity of Chortkov, and most of them were murdered en route to Jagielnica. At the same time about 200 Jews in the professions were killed. In the winter of 1941–42, hundreds of Jews were kidnapped for slave labor camps in Skalat and Kamionka. A mass Aktion took place on August 28, 1942, when 2,000 Jews were rounded up and sent to *Belzec death camp. About 500 children, sick, and elderly persons were shot in Chortkov itself. Five hundred Jews were dispatched on October 5, 1942, to Belzec. Toward the end of the year, 1,000 Jews were sent to slave labor camps in the district. Almost all the inmates were murdered in July 1943. A month later the last remaining Jews in Chortkov were killed and the city was declared "judenrein." When the Soviet army occupied the area (March 1944), only about 100 Jews were found alive in Chortkov and a few in a nearby labor camp.
Several resistance groups were active in the ghetto, in the labor camps, and among the partisans who operated in the Chortkov forests. Their leaders were Ryuwen Rosenberg, Meir Waserman, and the two brothers Heniek and Mundek Nusbaum. After the war no Jews settled in Chortkov. Societies of Chortkov Jews exist in Israel and in New York. A memorial book Sefer Yizkor le-Hanẓaḥat Kedoshei Kehillat Chortkov was published in 1967 (Yid., Heb., with English summary).
F. Friedman, Die galizischen Juden im Kampfe um ihre Gleichberechtigung, 1848–1868 (1929), 43, 182 no. 3.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.