KONOTOP Jews Past and Present


There was a wave of robberies and small pogroms at that time. Fortunately, there were no massive killings. The most successful time for Jews was during the German (Kaiser) occupation. There were a lot of Jews, such as officers and Division Ravines [rabbis], in the German army. Later, the Soviet power created conditions of safety for Jews, but from the economical point of view that was a hard time for Jews. Private enterprises were nationalized and trade was stopped. The attempts of illegal trade were cruelly punished and sometimes even the people were shot for such kinds of activity. One of the functions of the Cheka (Soviet police) of that time was the struggle with speculation, the meaning of which was stretched too far. During the new economical program (NEP), they reestablished the economic activities of Jews (shops, rent of plants and factories, andtradesman), but on a lesser level than before. The main difficulties were the high repressive taxes. In 1923—1928, the illegal activities of Zionist's organizations were revived and the mass emigration to Palestine occurred during that time, which was organized by Gehalutca. In 1924, the Zionists-Socialist's Party (CZSP) and the Union of Youth (CC-Yugend Ferband) distributed leaflets calling for migration to Palestine. At that time under the influence of the Jewish section of the Communist Party began the movement for the migration to Birobidjan.17 And the first arresting of Zionists began. But the real economic catastrophe for Jews began in 1928—1930, when [Stalin] started to thwart the activities of the NEP. Private trade, industrial, and artisan’s enterprises became bankrupt under the pressure of the high level of taxation. Their owners, who couldn't pay, ran away from the town. In 1929, tradesman, harness maker, and saddle maker, Gorinskiy, hung himself from the window of his shop. As a rule, Jews moved to Russia to their children and relatives living there. Numerically, the community shrank significantly. The composition changed as well, predominantly government clerks, factory workers, and poor people. The relationship with the synagogue weakened. The Jewish community received the final blow during the Second World War. Some part of the population moved to the other parts of the USSR.


17 Jewish Autonomic Region, where Stalin planned to relocate all Jews in the Soviet




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