Join Our Mailing List

Sponsor Us!

Virtual Jewish World:
Dubno, Ukraine


Virtual Jewish World: Table of Contents | Europe | Ukraine


Print Friendly and PDF

Dubno is a city in Ukraine. The Jewish community of Dubno is first mentioned in documents of 1532 in connection with the ownership of cattle. The oldest tombstone inscription in the Jewish cemetery dates from 1581. At the beginning of the 17th century Isaiah ha-Levi Horowitz , author of Shenei Luot ha-Berit , was the rabbi in Dubno. The community was represented on the council of the province (galil) of Volhynia.

On the eve of the Chmielnicki uprising there were about 2,000 Jews in Dubno. From 1648 to 1649, most of the Jews were massacred because the Poles refused to permit them to take refuge in the fortress. According to tradition the graves of the martyrs were located near the eastern wall of the great synagogue, where it was customary to mourn them on the fast of Tisha B'Av.

The Jewish community was reestablished shortly after the uprising under the patronage of the princes Lubomirski, who accorded the Jewish community special privileges in 1699 and 1713. By the beginning of the 18th century Dubno had become the largest Jewish community in the Volhynia region, being represented on the Council of the Four Lands and earning the sobriquet "Dubno the Great" (Dubno Rabbati). Its delegate, Rabbi Meir ben Joel, was chosen to be head of the Council of the Four Lands in the late 1750's. As blood libels were occuring during this time in Poland, Rabbi Meir sent his relative, Rabbi Eliokim-Zelig of Yampol, to the see the Pope in Rome and get bull against the libels, which he then published in Latin and Polish.

In 1765, Jewish polltax payers numbered 1,923. Jacob Kranz, the most famous of 18th-century Jewish preachers in Lithuania, was known as the Maggid of Dubno after the city with which he was most closely associated. In the 19th century, Haskalah activists, such as the physician and writer Reuben Kalischer, the lexicographer and poet Solomon Mandelkern and the poet and writer Abraham Baer Gottlober lived in Dubno.

In 1780, the Jewish population numbered 2,325, in 1847, 6,330 and in 1897 it was about 7,108 - roughly half the city's total population. In 1794, Jonathan Jacob of Wielowies, Silesia established the first Hebrew printing press in Dubno. Jonathan's partner was M. Piotrowsky, a non-Jew, and the business was under the patronage of Prince Lubomirski, the ruler of the town, whose escutcheon and initials appeared on the title pages. The press was active for nine years and produced 22 books. Another press, founded in 1804 by the printer Aaron Jonah, was established in partnership with Joseph Leib. During the four years Aaron was in Dubno, his press published ten books. Dubno's rabbi, Ḥayyim Mordecai Margolioth, established a press in 1819, printing works by his brother Ephraim Zalman of Brody, and a Shulḥan Arukh with his own commentaries (Sha'arei Teshuvah) and those of his brother (Yad Ephraim). The press was closed after a fire.

During World War I and the civil war in Russia, the city changed hands a number of times and the community suffered extreme hardship, mainly of an economic nature. In March 1918, the Cossacks staged a pogrom killing 18 Jews. While Dubno belonged to Poland (1921–39), the community maintained many cultural institutions and there was an active Zionist and pioneer movement. In 1921, the Jews numbered 5,315 and in 1931 the Jewish population was approximately 7,364, out of a total population of 12,696.

After the outbreak of World War II, Dubno was occupied by Soviet forces on September 18, 1939. The Soviet authorities liquidated the Jewish community institutions, made all political parties illegal, transferred Jewish welfare institutions to the municipality and allowed only one Jewish activity – the public kitchen for refugees from the West. All Jewish economic enterprises and buildings were nationalized. Jewish leaders, among them David Perl president of the Zionist Organization, were arrested. When the German-Soviet war broke out in June 1941, hundreds of young Jewish men escaped from Dubno to the Soviet interior. After the Germans entered Dubno on June 25, 1941, the local Ukrainian population indulged in acts of murder and robbery while the Germans extracted 100,000 rubles (approximately $20,000) from the Jewish community.

On July 22, 1941, 80 Jews were executed by the Nazis in the local cemetery; one month later 900 were killed. The Germans organized a Judenrat headed by Konrad Tojbenfeld and the Jewish population was conscripted for forced labor, with many succumbing to the unbearable conditions. Two ghettoes were established in Dubno at the beginning of April 1942 - one for the workers and their families and the second for the rest of the Jews. On May 26–27, 1942, the Germans murdered all the Jews in the second ghetto, burying them in mass graves on the outskirts of the city. In August 1942, Jews from the environs and survivors of the second ghetto were brought to the first ghetto.

On October 5, 1942, about 4,500 inhabitants of the first ghetto were murdered. The remaining 353 were murdered a few weeks later on October 23, 1942, and the last 14 Jews escaped. Two partisan groups were formed by Dubno escapees. One headed by Isaac Wasserman was wiped out by the Germans, the other suffered losses in battles and the last 16 fighters joined the Polish self-defense units which fought the Ukrainian UPA. When the war was over only about 300 Jews from Dubno remained alive, including those who had returned from the Soviet Union.

No Jewish community was reestablished in Dubno after the war.


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

P. Pesis, Ir Dubno ve-Rabbaneha (1902); H.S. Margolies, Dubno Rabbati (1910); H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (19502), 119–20; A. Yaari, in: KS, 9 (1932/33), 432; Rivkind, ibid., 11 (1934/35), 386–7. HOLOCAUST PERIOD: M. Weisberg, in: Fun Letstn Khurbn, 2 (1946), 14–27; Elimelekh, in; Yalkut Volhyn, 1 (1945), index; Fefer, ibid., index; Dubno (1966), memorial book (Heb. and Yid.). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: PK.

Back to Top