Kharkiv Old Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Site address
The indicated territory is located on the territory of the park between Volonters’ka, Pidlisna and Cherednychenkivs’ka streets.
GPS coordinates
49.98829, 36.1841
Perimeter length
900 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
There is no fence.
Preservation condition
Demolished and overbuilt Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is built up with park of culture.
Number of existing gravestones
No tombstones preserved.
Date of oldest tombstone
Date of newest tombstone
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys

Historical overview

The cemetery was established in 1799. In the late 1930s, it was partially demolished and finally destroyed in the late 1940s – early 1950s. A park of culture and recreation in the Leninsky (modern Kholodnogorsky) district was built on the site at the same time. The cemetery is marked on map of 1930s.

Kharkiv (Ukr. Харків, Rus. Харьков, Yid. כאַרקאָוו) had a Jewish presence in the early 18th century. The city was beyond the Pale of Settlement, so Jews were not officially allowed to settle here. Exceptions were made, however, for cantonists discharged from military service or merchants. The two groups formed separate congregations, each with its own synagogue. The city also had a Karaite community of a few hundred. Kharkiv’s important fairs attracted thousands of Jewish traders, and a large number of Jews lived in Kharkiv without residence permits despite the continued efforts by the police to deport them. In 1882, Kharkiv students founded Bilu, one of the earliest Zionist groups to settle in Palestine, and the city remained a major Zionist centre until the 1920s. During the late 19th century the Jewish population grew from 775 in 1863 to 11,013 (6% of the city) in 1897.

In the early 20th century, the city had 5 synagogues, a Jewish hospital as well as various Jewish charities and schools. Thousands of Jewish refugees from German-occupied western parts of the Russian Empire arrived in 1915. Unlike most communities in Ukraine, Kharkiv did not experience a pogrom during the revolutions of 1917 and the ensuing Civil War. In 1919, Kharkiv became the capital of Soviet Ukraine, although this was transferred to Kyiv in 1934. The Jewish population grew to over 81,000 (20%( in 1926.
The Soviet authorities persecuted Jewish religious activities and Zionist groups and promoted Yiddish-language secular Jewish culture. The city had Jewish press and a Jewish theatre, Yiddish was the language of instruction in 4 elementary schools, a high school, a teacher-training college, and a Jewish department of a technical school for newspaper personnel.

In 1939, there were 130,250 Jews (16%) in Kharkiv. Apparently, most of them were able to evacuate before the German army captured Kharkiv in October 1941. A Judenrat was established in November 1941, and around -10,000 Jews were forced into a ghetto in December. The majority of them were killed at Drobytskyi Yar in January 1942. Around 400 sick or elderly Jews were locked in the synagogue on Meshchanskaia Street, where they died of cold and hunger.

After WWII, the Jews began to return and a Jewish religious congregation was reestablished in 1945. In 1959, the Jewish population of Kharkiv was around 65,000. The 70s & 80s saw a revival of Zionist activism and a mass emigration to Israel and the USA. The Jewish population dropped from around 90,000 in 1979 to around 49,000 in 1989, another 15,000 Jews emigrated in the 1990s. Today Kharkiv has several Jewish religious, cultural and educational institutions. According to the 2001 census, Kharkiv had a Jewish population of 11,176.

The cemetery was established in 1799. The Karaite community also used the cemetery. The demolition started in the 1930s and was completed by the early 1950s. The area was turned into a park, some of the land was built over later.