KREMENCHUG


KREMENCHUG, Poltava district, in Ukraine. The earliest information on Jewish settlement in Kremenchug dates from 1782; 454 Jews were registered as poll-tax payers in the district of Kremenchug in 1801. In accordance with the policy "of directing the Jews toward productive professions," the Russian government opened a weaving mill in the city in 1809, designed to teach this craft to Jews who lacked a profession. The number of Jews employed in the mill in 1810, together with the members of their families, amounted to 232. After this date the Jews began to leave the mill because of the difficult conditions there, and in 1817 it closed down. Later in the 19th century, the Jewish population increased rapidly, as a result of emigration from the northwestern provinces of Russia to the southeastern ones. In 1847 there were 3,475 Jews registered in the community of Kremenchug, while by 1897 there was a large Jewish population of 29,869 persons (47% of the total population). The Jews played a most important role in the economic development of the town, especially in the grain and timber trades and the manufacture of tobacco. They owned ten sawmills and several tobacco factories. Early in the 19th century a Jewish hospital was opened, and in 1844 a Chabad yeshivah was established. By the end of the century, there were two talmudei torah, one with carpentry and metalworking classes, and Jewish private schools for boys and girls. During World War I, the yeshivot of *Lubavich and *Slobodka (from Kovno) were transferred to Kremenchug. Pogroms were staged in October 1905, in April 1918 by armed bands of Grigoryev, and in August 1919 by the soldiers of the "Volunteer Army" of General *Denikin. In the 1920s the Jews made up 50% of the workers in the factories, and about 75% in tobacco production, shoes, and carpentry. In the 1930s there were two Jewish schools and an electro-mechanical college. In 1926 there were 28,969 Jews (49.2% of the total) living in the town, with the number dropping by 1939 to 19,880 (22% of the total population). The Germans occupied Kremenchug on September 9, 1941, and they soon – together with the Ukrainian police – pillaged the Jews, ordered them to wear the yellow star, and forbade them to buy food in the stores. On September 27, 1941, they were ordered to register and to move into ghetto barracks in the Novo-Ivanovka suburb; all their belongings were taken from them. From September 27 to November 7 about 8,000 Jews were murdered by the Germans. The small group of professionals, such as doctors and nurses, who were left were killed in January 1942. Hundreds of Jewish soldiers from the Soviet army, from the local prisoner of war camp, were also murdered. In 1959 the Jewish population numbered about 5,200 (6% of the total) and in 1970 it was estimated at about 1,000. Of the 60 synagogues in 1917, only one remained open in 1959, only to be closed down in the early 1960s. The old "Great" synagogue, destroyed by the Nazis, was still standing, roofless. Most Jews left in the 1990s but community life revived, with both educational and religious services being offered. Natives of Kremenchug included the Zionist leader J. *Tschlenow and the painter Mané *Katz. The poet A. *Shlonsky was born in Kryukov, a suburb of Kremenchug, as was the Jewish Soviet army officer Alexander Pecherski who headed the uprising in the Sobibor death camp in 1943.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

A. Litai, in: Reshumot, 3 (1923), 237–63; A.I. Freidenberg, Zikhroynes fun a Tsionististishn Soldat (1938), 220–60; M. Osherowitch, Shtet un Shtetlekh in Ukraine, 2 (1948), 35–46; Die Judenpogrome in Russland, 2 (1910), 250–5; J.B. Schechtman, Pogromy dobrovolcheskoy armii na Ukraine (1932), 312–6; I. Juditski, Yidishe Burzhuazye un Yidisher Proletariat in Ershter Helft 19 Yarhundert (1930), 14–19; B. Weinryb, Neueste Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Juden in Russland und Polen, 1 (1934), 106–7.

[Yehuda Slutsky /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.