by Yakov Pasik.
Used by permission of the author.
Jewish colony NOVOPOLTAVKA
During the years 1830-1840 Tsar Nicholas pursued a policy of relocation of farming Jews who lived in the western provinces of Russia. During this forced relocation many became ill and died. Upon arrival at the Kherson government disbursed them to areas which were not ready to accept new settlers. As a result, in a short time all the houses were crowded, and thousands of people had to be accommodated in camps open camps disbursed around the area. Hunger and disease forced many people to revolt. Authorities took strong repressive measures and the troublemakers were punished severely. The governor-general of the Novorossiysk Territory, Earl M. Vorontsov, took immediate steps to improve the harsh conditions. In 1841 he founded in the province of Kherson five new Jewish agricultural colonies, including Novopoltavka (Novo-Poltavka) c coordinates N 47 ° 32'53 ", E 32 ° 30'03". That colony was given 6000 acres of relatively good quality land.
Novopoltavka got its name from the neighboring village Poltavka (since 1928 Bashtanka). The first settlers were natives of the province of Courland (part of present-day Latvia). All the settlers were granted privileged status of "colonists"which was given to foreign settlers engaged in agriculture. First Schultz (headman) of the colony was Gershon Michelson. In 1848 Schulz was elected Geymanson Hirsch, and then served as the M. Schulz Haskind, Motia Litmanovich (since 1863).
In 1845 the colony 150 families lived in state houses Valkova.  Despite the benefits the first years of life in the new location were very heavy. Unable to withstand the hardships and tribulations, some immigrants fled to neighboring cities while others returned to their former places of residence. The farms of the colonists who remained in the colony developed slowly due to the lack of much-needed experience in agriculture. After all Jews for centuries before the migration had engaged in trade and crafts.
In 1859 (X revision) in Novopoltavka there were 149 houses, inhabited by 1567 persons (768 males and 799 females). the population in the colony decreased in 1889 to 1459 (694 men and 765 women). 
In addition to the Jews there was a population of German colonists living in the area . In the middle of the XIX century, the Government had decided to settle German colonists in the Jewish colonies to serve as model hosts and share their experience with the Jewish agricultural peasants. Initially Novopoltavke settled first German colonists (about 10 families). That number increased but did not exceed 10% of the population. The Germans and Jews tended to live separately on three streets. The Germans built a Lutheran chapel and a school. Over time German teachers was no longer needed. In 1890 the Germans resettled 3 miles north to their colony Novopoltavki Neufeld / Neufeld, now the village of Efremovka Novobugskogo region Nikolaev region. In 1896, 92 people lived in Neufeld.
The development of the colony was hindered by the lack of safe water for the villagers and their livestock. In Novopoltavka there were several shallow wells but the water was "bitter, salty, and was said to "give rise to permanent sickness". Water had to be taken from deep wells located at a distance of five miles from the colony. Good water became the subject of trade: the neighboring farmers brought it to the colonies, usually on the eve of holidays, and the villagers were selling buckets. 
The main occupation of the inhabitants of the colony was agriculture. Advances in this field had come to the Jewish settlers in twenty years after the founding of the colony. In 1863 peasant M. Gitling received a cash prize of 100 rubles from the Ministry of State for high yields. 
In the years 1869-1873 railways was built on the roads from Znamenka to Nikolaev. Two miles from the colony a railway station was erected. With the commissioning of the station into operation, Novopoltavka had become an important grain and commercial center.
In the "List of settlements in Kherson province and statistics on each settlement," published by the Regional Committee in Kherson in 1896, the following description of the colony was: "the New Poltavka; within Privolnyanskoy parish, in Velenje bailiff 4 mill and District Commander 6 land, with ponds on the beam Gorzhanoy. Courts 262. inhabitants in 1893 (904 x 989 m.) Station Kharkov-Nikolaev railway. Rural order. Jewish houses of worship 3. zemstvo school (80 m 21 d). Pharmacy. Bath . lumberyards 2. shops 13. bazaar day 52. Before the district town 90.; Zemstvo postal station Privolnoye 12.; steamship pier 57 in New Odessa. "
The colony had a doctor, who received a salary from the colonists. In 1911, Leon Solomonovich Goldstein served as a physician, and also had a pharmacy assistant ,apothecary Zaydenvurmu. 
At the end of the century the population of the colony grew rapidly. According to the census in 1897 Novopoltavka had 2179 inhabitants of which 1959 were Jews (about 90% of the population). In 1898 the colony had 242 families of farmers with 2506 acres of land. The fields of black earth were conveniently located in relation to the colony. On the average each family had 10.3 acres. Total acreage sown was 3711 acres: cultivated wheat (46.4%), rye, barley (41.9%), oats, millet and potatoes,fruit trees and on 1273 the vineyards. On average, the family had: horses - 3.1 cows - 1.7, chicken - 14.7. There were three houses of worship and a Cheder school. In addition to farming. people of the colonies were engaged in handicrafts and trade. In 1913 the number had grown to 19 stores, including three grocery, 3 haberdashery, 4 agricultural implements and machinery. Against this background, stood Isaac Gimmelfarb , who had a department store. The colony was known for its windmills, and churn. One of the biggest was a Mill Dobrowolski, which employed 18 workers and an annual income of 30,425 rubles was. , 
Since the founding of the colony boys went to cheder (elementary religious schools) where they were taught the basics of Jewish literacy, and religion. Family living rooms usually served as places to teach the children, with table and benches around it. Parents were paid a pittance for the training. Most Melamedov (teachers) were older people who had no special education. In 1867, 16 Novopoltavka Melamedov taught 114 boys.  Almost the entire male population of the colony possessed Jewish literacy
The first school for the initial teaching of Russian language, arithmetic, Hebrew language and the law of God in the colony was opened in 1869. Full state councilor, KA Peterson, conducting an inspection of the Jewish colonies and reported that the Novopoltavka school "placed pretty well". The teacher Jewish was "beautifully spoken in Russian, a very advanced young man" . At the school were 40 students. They are all were "well and sensibly read and write in Russian."  In 1880 the school taught 22 boys and 32 girls. 
Then the one-class school was established by the Ministry of Education. It was housed in the same room with the office of Schultz (mayor) and the constable. The school studied the Russian language (reading, writing, grammar). an increasing number of colonists knew Russian grammar. However, the school did not meet the needs of the local population. It educated only a fifth of the children, the rest were trained only in the cheder.
Increased agricultural production in Novopoltavka and other Jewish colonies demanded respect for the high culture of farming and thus literate farmers were necessary. This was how there arose the idea of creating a specialized institution. The concept was successfully implemented. In 1902 the Novopoltavskaya Jewish agricultural school commenced operation. It was founded by the famous agronomist, Bertenson. Funds for the construction of the buildings and furnishing of the school came from Jewish philanthropists I. Brodsky, G. Vavelsberg, G. Ginzburg and the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA). It was located five miles south of the colony. The main educational building was designed by the architect KI Quinta. Baron H. Gunzburg was appointed School trustee.  The school was designed for 60 students, boys were taken at age 14 and older. The duration of study was 3 years. The third year was designed exclusively for practical work (1850 hours) in the field and on farms. To do this, the government had allocated 300 acres of land on which was established a model farm with crops of grain and industrial crops, pasture (44 acres), garden (3 acres), vineyard (2 acres), forest plantations. They also had a dairy farm (26 cows) and stables (28 horses) for working cattle. Near the school emerged a village in which resided the attendants (in 1911 - 139 inhabitants). Each year, 20 people were graduated from this school. Agronomist Brunin Zorih Nisonovich and his assistant agronomist Samuel E. (Haimovich) Lubarsky, managed the school until 1911. The teachers were Meer Movshovich Godlewski and Lyusternik Steinberg. From 1911 to 1918, the director of the school and manager of its farm was Samuel E Lubarsky (1878-1938, an agronomist and an outstanding organizer of Agriculture). Lubarsky was later the deputy director of the American-Jewish Joint agronomic Corporation Agro-Joint. In December 1918, Lubarsky’s wife, Zinaida Iosovna Boguslavskaia, whom he married in 1904, was killed by armed bandits who broke into the school and carried out a pogrom. Lubarsky was left a widower with two children, Lea [Levintan], born in 1905, and Abram born in 1910. In 1918 the school was closed because of the inability to continue their studies in the Civil War. , , , 
At the beginning of XX century, Novopoltavka had some fairly wealthy colonists. The Lowenstein brothers flourished. They had a farm, shops and mills. Interestingly, Lowenstein received land and settled in Novopoltavka after demobilization from the imperial army in late 1870 - early 1880. The Lowenstein brothers quickly achieved success. Mayor Lowenstein bought a steam engine and built the first steam mill in the county. In 1906 Rose, the eldest daughter of one of the brothers went to study medicine in Switzerland. The older brother Akim also had enough money for education of his children abroad (one of their children studied in Switzerland, the other one, Engineering in Belgium)
Novopoltavska life changed in the Civil War, when the thugs smashed and looted, "a Jewish household." All the Lowensteins were in hiding with Orthodox neighbors. The farms were completely destroyed: horses and cattle stolen, equipment destroyed, house and buildings were burned. The Lowensteins had to leave Novopoltavka. The grandson of Mayer Lowenstein recalled all the stories his grandfather had about Novopoltavka "about how they had horses and dogs, and what they had and what was the nature of habits, and how it worked and how cropper - binder, and as allowed in the first thresher, and as my grandfather bought a portable engine for the mill, and a mechanic came from Nikolaev to let the steam engine and the whole district came together to watch ... and about how children were taken to Nikolaev to learn ... And how on Christmas and Easter Christian they went to visit his Ukrainian and German neighbors, and these neighbors came to him on the Passover and Hanukkah. " 
The family of Aaron and Basia Shafir also owned a mill. They had four children. They lived in a large brick house of five rooms. They grew in the garden flowers, and a orchard. They kept cows and chickens. They lived with the grandfather and grandmother. The family was religious. They observed kashrut, the Sabbath, they celebrated all religious holidays. On Friday, Grandma Leah lit a candle. "Grandpa Isaac was an expert on the Torah". On Saturdays and on holidays the whole family went to the synagogue. Nathan, one of the sons of Aaron and Basia, was born in 1910. He graduated from the cheder. He continued his education in the Nikolaev, where he graduated from high school in 1928, then enrolled at the Moscow Institute of Journalism. Before the war, Nathan worked as executive secretary of the Republican Komsomol newspaper "Stalin's tribe" in Kiev. Since the beginning of the war he was a war correspondent. He died on May 23, 1942 
Despite the growing prosperity of the colonists, the waves of pogroms, which in 1881 rolled across the Russian empire, pushed the residents to emigrate. A considerable number of novopoltavtsev emigrated mainly to North America, Argentina and Palestine. A typical family of immigrants was Yudko Freynberg, 32 years old, educated, who left the military service in 1893, emigrated in February 1904 together with his wife Freynberg 30 years old, literate, with their two children (their annual income was 200 rubles). 
The main part of the Jewish population of the colony were deeply religious which contributed to the preservation of Jewish traditions. Central to their religious life were the synagogues. The synagogue was not only a house of prayer and study of the laws of faith, but also a place of meeting of the community. The rabbis enjoyed great honor in the community. The community elected their rabbis and payed them regular salaries. The main function of a rabbi was the study, interpretation and teaching of Jewish law. The rabbi was also an expert and a judge in any legal dispute arises. He supervised education, kashrut and other affairs of the community. Rabbis in the colony were educated and intelligent people. At the turn of the century, rabbi Eliyahu (Elijah) Ratner served as rabbi. In 1895 he published in Warsaw his book "Pesher Agadta."
"Pesher Agadta" which is a 172 page book in Hebrew (9.2MB PDF file)
NOTE: Will open in a new browser window or tab.
With the improvement in the culture of agriculture, Novopoltavka was one of the best colonies in the Kherson province. A typical colonist was a third generation farmer Moses Davidovich Gordon (1880-1941). In his younger years, he helped his father to run the farm. Bass Ruskol married the daughter of a farmer from a neighboring Jewish agricultural colony of Great Nagartav. He inherited the land from the father. These included the vineyards, farmland, house and outbuildings, stables, barn and a barn for storage of agricultural implements. Growing crops and industrial crops to feed the family and livestock, the main income came from the vineyard. Grapes and wine were sold in the market. He was not rich, and the money went to support the management and maintenance of the family included which had five children. Gordon, like most colonists, led his farm in an exemplary manner, putting in it all his skill, diligence, and using advanced agronomic techniques. His farmland had always been in good condition. There was a spacious house covered with galvanized iron, a cellar for long term storage of fruits and vegetables, small fruit garden, and a pool pit to collect rainwater. Behind the house was the garden, where vegetables were grown for their own use: potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beets, onions, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, and tomatoes. They also dug a deep well for drinking water. 
The First World War, which began in 1914, became an ordeal for the entire population of the colony. The army mobilized much of the male population. Agricultural work fell on the shoulders of women, children and the elderly. At the same time, the colony received refugees and deported Jews from the front line. For example, in 1915 in Novopoltavka were placed 59 families (233 persons). 40 children of these families began to study in novopoltavskih schools. For the maintenance of migrants, the Jewish charities of Nikolaev spent £ 7435 
After the October Revolution, Soviet power was established in the colony on February 1918. During the Civil War, power passed from hand to hand. Military actions were accompanied by numerous troubles for the people of the colony. In March 1919 Due to the difficult conditions they created the underground Novopoltavka Revolutionary Committee. n August 1919 the retreating side of the demoralized Red Army Souther Group stopped at Novy Bug and revolted fueled by profits from Makhno agitators. They began looting. On September 1, some of the rebels went to Novopoltavka, where they met the resistance of self-defense and brought back two dead men. After receiving reinforcements, the bandits surrounded on three sides Novopoltavka. On September 4 at the railway station there were several shots at the armored car of the colony. They started a short fight. The shooting by the defenders ended quickly. Bursting into the colony, the bandits committed brutal massacre of the Jewish population killing 130 people.  There was a "gay week", during which the bandits dragged all the things that caught their eye and loaded the booty onto carts to betaken away from the colony. All courtyards, houses and stables were empty. For days bandits roamed from house to house, looking for women who when found were raped. They killed any who tried who tried to protect the women 
Following the bandits came the army of Denikin. In Novopoltavka this guerrilla group, who were members of the Komsomol Aramson, Litmanovich, Rose Jacobson. The detachment, led by Ivan Tur waged an unequal battle with the forces of General Slaschova. The detachment was defeated in the gully behind the village.  The School of Agriculture suffered repeated attacks of bandits. As a result of one of them, which occurred on January 1, 1919, the Director SE Lubarsky and his wife, Zinaida Boguslavskaya Joseph were hurt and she died of her wounds. , 
In January 1920 the area was liberated by the Red Army and Soviet power was established. In March 1920, Novopoltavka Party cell was created and in August 1920 organized by the Committee "nezamozhnih villagers" (poor farmers). In 1922 this was a Komsomol and Pioneer based organization. 
After the Civil War, a terrible famine broke out in the country. During the winter 1921 - spring 1922 more than 200 people died from hunger, more than 10% of the total population. To save the children orphaned by pogroms and hunger, Novopoltavka established an orphanage. Great help during the famine was provided by the organization "The American Relief Administration (ARA)," They created a base in Novopoltavka, supplying the population and surrounding villages with food parcels and meals at soup kitchens. The ARA, gradually under the control of the JDC, also included a children's home in Novopoltavka. 
In 1922 started the restoration of the colony. Joseph A. Rosen, an agronomist of Russian Jewish origin, was responsible for the reconstruction work. Active participation in the restoration came from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the ECO. By the beginning of 1923 the JDC had introduced to the South of Ukraine 86 tractors. Central to the whole project was Novopoltavka, which housed offices, a school for the tractors, the central repair shop, warehouses and fuel storage. Seven experienced American instructors, who spoke the Russian language, taught farmers how to drive tractors. They served a total of 38 Jewish colonies and 72 non-Jewish village. Help spread not only to the use of tractors, but also to build processing plants (cheese factories and creameries), the introduction of new crops, the introduction of high-quality seeds and shestipolnogo rotation.  The first large-scale tractor company in Russia was created with great success. Jewish colonies were quickly restored. Their overall economic condition was significantly higher than the that of the surrounding villages. The population of Novopoltavka exceeded the prewar level, and by 1925 it was about 2,500. The results of the campaign caused an increased interest in the Soviet leadership. The new way to use technology in the tractor columns and a bunch of farms were subsequently used by the Soviet government to create a machine-tractor stations (MTS) and collective farms.
The restoration of Novopoltavka was aided by various organizations, including legal Zionist youth movement Ha-Halutz ("pioneer", "Pioneer"). In 1921, this movement in Novopoltavka consisted of about 100 people, mostly residents of cities and towns. Life and work in the colony was considered a preparation for the development of Palestine. 
Along with the Communist, Komsomol, and Soviet organizations in the first half of the 1920s. Novopoltavka operated in a fairly strong organization "Jugend" (Zionist Socialist Youth Union). The work of this organization promoted the ideas expressed in Zionism, the study of Hebrew language and Jewish history, and attracting new members. In 1925 Novopoltavka Zionists opposed the measures of Soviet power. In October the same year Sarah Medem, one of the leaders of this organization was arrested and imprisoned. Then subsequent activities of the Zionist organizations were banned and most of their members never were able to emigrate to Palestine. ,  However most people from Novopoltavka supported the Soviet regime and its ideology.
In the first half of the 1920s the colony rapidly began to develop cooperation and the colony organized association for joint cultivation of the land (NBC). In September 1922, there were two cooperative organizations and a single consumer society of 250 members. The Agricultural Cooperative Society "Bow", which at the end of 1928 had 883 shareholders, was engaged in grain harvesting and selling industrial products to include timber to its members timber. In addition, there was a credit cooperative society of 565 members who had the opportunity to sell grain, buy seeds, agricultural machinery, wood and metal. The Company owned a cheese-making shop where the Dutch cheese was of high quality. From 1924 there was the garden and grape Company "Nye veg" (New Way). It provided its 190 members seedlings, tools, and fertilizers and chemical protection means for processing 250 acres of vineyards. Working in the creamery the brothers Rohkinyh could recycle 200 tons of sunflower seeds per day. 
In 1926, ECO conducted the land management. After this, the colonists belonged to 4211 dec. land (1922 - 2880). 
In 1927 workers in the Novopoltavka machine and tractor companies united 38 households out of which 13 were poor peasants, 24 middle peasants and 1 prosperous. 
In 1923 there opened a nursery and a hospital outpatient clinic. In 1924 there were 2 school teachers and 120 students. 1928 there opened a hospita, a pharmacy, and a veterinary clinic. In the same year there opened the labor school and music school. Cultural and educational activities focused in the Komsomol club. Lectures, meetings were held, working circles, especially agrochemical.
In 1923, at the expense of the Jewish Community of Handicraft Work (ORT), there was the restoration of the Novopoltavka School of Agriculture, which during the Civil War, was severely damaged. The school was transformed into Novopoltavsky Jewish agricultural school. Equipment was purchased, renovated selhozpostroyki and brought seven cows and 36 horses. The library acquired 239 volumes of books, equipped with chemical, biological, zoological and microbiological laboratories, built two houses for teachers and a hostel. The College turned into a training center for agronomists and animal husbandry primarily for Jewish collective farms in the Nikolaev and Kherson districts. 500 acres of wheat grewhigh-yielding cereals and industrial crops. Much attention was paid to grape growing, In 1926 the insitution purchased two thousand fillokserostoykih seedlings. At the dairy farm there was a herd of breeding cattle (30 cows and 40 calves) and and a British pig breeding kennel owned by Agro-Joint.  In the 1926-27 school year, the college had an enrollment of 90 students, and the next year- 133. Due to the high demand for personnel with higher education, the college in 1929 was converted to the Jewish Agricultural Institute of Agronomic and veterinary faculties.  Despite the fact that the school was located deep in the province, it is provided by qualified staff of teachers trained to the best agricultural universities in the country including the Timiryazev Academy. In1930-1931. the head of household was the experienced FE Reimers, later a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1934 the institute and the students moved to Odessa, and continued to operate the Novopoltavka Jewish agricultural school.
By the end of the 1920s through hard work and the assistance of novopoltavtsev Jewish charities turned Novopoltavka into a prosperous farming country. Given the compact residence of Jews in Novopoltavka in 1927 was founded the Jewish national village council. 1929, collectivization was forced upon Novopoltavka as in the rest of the country. Without the proper preparatory work this was rapidly accompanied by the dispossession of peasants and repression. All the farms were grouped into three farm "Freiheit" (Freedom), "Frei Arbeit" (free labor) and "New Life". The heaviest damage was to the Jewish collective Novopoltavka as well as all the peasants of Ukraine. There ensued the famine of 1932-33. People became bloated and died of starvation. Famine was accompanied by repression "for the theft of property." For 1 kg of wheat, taken at the elevator for the hungry children a special meeting sentenced farmer Slam Arens to three years in prison.  However, in spite of great difficulties, the people gradually regained their collective feet. At the Kolkhoz Money Novopoltavka opened a dental office and renovated country club.
The most tragic chapter in the history of the Jewish colony was the start in June 22, 1941 of Nazi Germany's war with the Soviet Union. In the Great Patriotic War 227 residents of the colony fought of whom 78 died. 1 On August 14, 1941 the enemy captured Novopoltavka and a month later, on 13 September, the Nazis and their henchmen started to liquidate the Jewish population. After the raid 837 people with children were herded into one place and then driven to the airport where they were shot. Those who remained alive were forced to bury the dead then they all were executed. Thus tragically ended the centenary history of the Jewish agricultural colony of Novopoltavka. 
The tragic story of one family was published in 1977 in Novobugskoy newspaper "Forward" called "Hrosya" journalist George Stadnik. Ukrainian Frosya (Hrosya Shuba and Shubin) was hired as a nurse in the Novopoltavka Katuderu. In Katudera while his wife died and left it with two little boys: Yuzey and Lenya. This young Ukrainian woman so fond of the Jewish children that boys soon began to call her mother and their father decided to marry the Ukrainian. And they began to live happily ever after. She had a girl, named her Lyubasha. But then war broke out, all the Jews were driven to the shooting. In this column a terrible death with their children Jewish, and Ukrainian was Hrosya. When one of the policemen said she is Ukrainian, German officer pushed her out of the column. But she came back and was shot with the children. Little Lyubasha survived. She hid and saved the Ukrainian family. 
Centennial History of the Jewish agricultural colonies Novopoltavka tragically ended in 1941, but the village Novopoltavka Novobugskogo region Nikolaev region continues to live.
In 1944 Novopoltavsky College continued its work. The settlement in the college was renamed Andreyevka Bashtansky district of Mykolayiv region. Zootechnical veterinary college is transformed into an agricultural vocational school. Educational building added to the Code of architectural monuments and the history of Ukraine.
After the war relatives and countrymen erected a monument to the dead. Another is the burial place that is surrounded by fences. 60 years after the war, the family Traspovyh and Michelson made a proposal to establish a memorial. To implement the proposal was an initiative group which held a great job of fundraising and construction of the memorial. The opening of the memorial was held in September 2007 in Novopoltavka and it brought together representatives of regional administration who were invited to remember the tragedy of the Jewish Sunday school students, Jewish culture, and the people of Novopoltavka A meeting was held at the fence of the memorial overlooking two rows of six gravestones arranged with shields of David and a granite memorial stone with an inscription. Words of the memorial prayers, which were first heard over the graves, were perceived by all as a worthy memorial forresting place of the dead. 
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