Drogicin is located in Belarus at 52° 11´ lattitude and 25° 09´ longitude. It is 155 miles (250 KM) SW of Minsk.On a good detailed map of the region one can find it on the road between Brest and Pinsk, about 70 km west of Pinsk. It was located in the Grodno Gubernia. NOTE: there is another shtetl of the same name located in Poland near Bialystock.
This was originally a hand drawn map in the Drogicin yiskor book.
There is a yiskor book for Drogicin the title of which can be translated as "Drohitchin: Five Hundred Years of Jewish Life". The dedication reads "In memory of the five thousand Jewish souls from Drohitchin who perished at the hands of the murderous Germans in two mass slaughters". Written by Rabbi Dov Warshawsky, it is a compilation of stories, history and biography contributed by survivors of the holocaust. It is written in Yiddish. The following is a brief overview gathered from the book.
The Polesye is the area that Drogicin is located. It is one of the great swampy areas of Europe. These swamps served to protect the town from the armies of King Karl XII of Sweden, Napoleon Bonapart and the Germans in WWI. The rest of the area contains forests and rivers. The rivers were a good source of fish, and thus income for the area. Lumber was also a major business in the area.
The earliest reference to Jews from the town can be found in the records of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, the so called Registry. These show that Jews farmed some significant plots in the area in the years 1463-1494.The annual contribution of these tenant farmers was 6,000 Groshen.
The 1766 census indicated 510 Jewish souls in the town. This may be low because 2 gilders had to be paid for each Jew in taxes. In 1847, according to the official census, there were 843 Jews in Drohitchin. The economic conditions of the area improved in the early part of the twentieth century, due to the opening of a railroad station (in Nagorye) and then the construction of a road from the station to Drogicin. In 1921 there were 1521 Jews and by 1939 there were 4500.
Religious life was very important in the town. It was a center for Cabalism. In the late part of the eighteenth century lived one of the old Drogicin rabbis, Reb Dovid Yafa (Jaffee, Yaffe). Reb Dovid Came from Reb Mordkhe Yafa's family. Reb Mordkhe was known as "Master of the Garments." In addition to being a great rabbi, Reb Dovid was also a great cabalist. Legend has it that he created a golem. Later the town was influenced by the Khassidic Movement.
The Jews of Drogicin formed a vigilante group before WWII which allowed them to stand up against the growing anti-semitism. There were no pogroms during that time due to the proud and defiant attitude of the Jews of Drogicin. However with the German occupation, Jewish Drohitchin was destroyed in two mass slaughters on October 17 and July 25, 1942.
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Updated by Ben Eisenstein 12/05/04
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