KONOTOP Jews Past and Present


There is a lot of historical research, which proves that it is true. Some historians think that it was the center of the Lipeckr [Lipetskova] principality and it was called, Lipovetsk. It was fully destroyed by Mongol troops for disobedience.1 The town was rebuilt again under the name Konotop in the 17th century. The first written reference that mentioned the fort of Konotop was dated in 1638. Konotop is a local center, which is situated on the left bank of Ezuch River, 129 kilometers from the city of Sumy. Today Konotop is one of the biggest railway centers with a population more than 100,000 people.

The first mention about Jews in Konotop appeared at the beginning of the 19th century when few people lived there. But the Jewish symbolic was found in 1782 in the Coat of Arms of Konotop. On the Coat of Arms there is depicted the details: “in a red field a golden cross, on the bottom the silver half-moon with the inner side facing upwards, and on the top a six-cornered star of David.” By 1847, the Jews who lived there increased to 521 people. According to the information provided in “Materials for Geography and Statistics of Russia,” compiled by officers of the general headquarters of Chernigov Gubernya, it was written that 1206 Jews lived in Konotop in 1861 – 566 males and 640 females. The population of Jews significantly increased in the second part of the 19th century as a result of the migration of Jews from the northwestern regions to the southeastern territories for permanent residence and achieved 4425 Jews (25.3% from the overall population in Konotop in 1897).2

Konotop was a typical town of the Pale of Settlement. Its social structure was defined by the lack of rights for the Jewish people. There were no peasants, predominantly merchants and craftsmen. Most of them used to live in poverty. The increase of the Jewish population occurred as a result of the building of the railway lines from Kiev to Moscow and from Kiev to Poland) in 1772, 1794, and 1795, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, annexed a large portion of Eastern Lithuania-Poland. By so doing, Russia inherited 3.5 million Jews within its new territories. Imperial Ukases (Decrees) were issued that evicted Jews from the larger cities. This resulted in mass migration of the entire Jewish population in Russia. Most of the Jews had to relocate within the Pale of Settlement.

1 14th century.

2 Following the three Partitions of Poland (Grand Duchy of Lithuania-Republic of


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