We are thrilled to report that we have completed construction on new protective fencing at two Jewish cemeteries in the Volyn region of Ukraine – Staryi Chortoryisk and the new Jewish cemetery in Lyuboml’.
Jews first settled in Staryi Chortoryisk in 1577, and the cemetery, is thought to have been established between the 16th and 17th centuries, By 1887, the Jewish population of the town had grown to 822, around 30% of the total population. Given the village was located on the front lines of WWI, many houses were burned, and the Jewish population was expelled from the town, with only a quarter of the former community returning after the war. By 1941, the Jewish population was thought to be around 300, almost all of whom were killed when, on occupying the town on June 26th of the same year, the Nazis carried out a mass execution near the cemetery. In 1968, the surviving members of the community had a monument erected on the site of the shooting.
Lyuboml’ has been home to a Jewish community since 1521. Although the community suffered many hardships throughout its long history, such as the pogroms of the early 20th century, it grew, and by 1931, the town had the highest percentage of Jews of anywhere in the country, making up 3,141 of the total population of 3,300. However, after the Nazi occupation of the town in June 25th 1941, a period of severe repression began, and in 1942, a total of 4,500 people, including the town’s entire Jewish community and many refugees from Poland, were taken to pits near the town and shot. After the war, prior to the repopulation of the town, there were only 51 known survivors.
When ESJF first surveyed these two cemeteries in 2019, as part of our European Commission-funded pilot project “Protecting the Jewish Cemeteries of Europe”, they were found to be neglected and severely overgrown. However, we are delighted to say that with the new fencing in place, these two precious cemeteries are again safe.
ESJF began 2020 with plans to fence 7 Jewish cemeteries in Volyn: Kysylyn, Lyubeshiv, Mel’nyssya Old, Troyanivka, Torchyn, Staryi Chortoryisk, and Lyuboml’ New. We are pleased to report that, in spite of the difficulties imposed this year by the global pandemic, we have now fenced all of the cemeteries we planned to in the region.
Many thanks to the Auswärtiges Amt Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany, for their continued support of this essential work.