also known as: Bilke (HU), Bílky (CZ), Belki (RU), Bilke [בילקע] (Yid)
48°19' N / 23°08' E
~ Introduction ~
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Bilky was part of the Kingdom of Hungary (11th century - 1918 and 1938-1944) with the name of Bilke in Bereg megye (county), next part of Czechoslovakia (1918-1938) with the name of Bílky in Podkarpatská Rus, then part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1945-1991) with the name of Belki and, since 1991, known as Bilky, in the Irshavsky rayon (district) of Zakarpats'ka oblast (county) of Ukraine.
In Yiddish, Bilky was known as Bilke [בילקע] .
Bilky is located about 12 miles NW of Khust (Huszt) and 4 miles NE of Irshava (Ilosva).
The nearest large cities are Mukacheve (Munkács) 21 miles WNW and Berehove (Beregszász) 23 miles WSW.
Bilke was located in Bereg megye (county) when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, then after WWI with the Treaty of Trianon, it was located in Poskarpatsaka Rus' Czechoslovakia. From 1938 to 1945, the area was annexed by Hungary, but after World War II, Bilky became part of the Soviet Union and in 1991, independent Ukraine. Bilke has been described as picturesque, located in a valley and with half a dozen rivers and brooks that flow through the town.
Jews are believed to have arrived in the area during the Turkish occupation of Hungary (16th - 17th century) and six Jewish families were present in 1725 and by 1830, the Jewish population rose to 40. Most of the Jews of Bilky traced their roots back to Galicia and Ukraine, where they fled a succession of pogroms starting with those of the Bogdan Chmelnitsky in the 17th century. The early population of Bilky consisted of Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Hungarians, Czechs and Jews—where all lived in harmony—with only isolated anti-Semitic manifestations.
In 1880, the Jewish population increased to 620 (of a total population of 3,347).
In 1910, the Jewish population increased to 1,021.
By 1921, during the Czechoslovakian period, the Jewish population rose to 1,081. Jews owned thirty business establishments, including two flour mills, a brickyard, a tannery, a factory for producing building materials and matza (unleavend bread) bakeries. A few dozen workers were employed in these industrial enterprises, while others were involved in agriculture and the trades.
In 1930, the Jewish population increased again to 1,088.
With the Hungarian occupation of Bilky in March, 1939, Jews were persecuted and pushed out of their occupations. In 1940-41, Jewish males from Bilky, ages 18 to 50, were conscripted into forced Hungarian labor battalions and while others were drafted for service on the Eastern front, where most died.
By 1941, the Jewish population rose to 1,103 and it was at this time, Jewish families without Hungarian citizenship were expelled to Nazi occupied Ukrainian territory, to Kamenets-Podolski, and murdered there.
On April 15, 1944, hundreds of the remaining Jews of Bilky were transported to the Beregszász (Berehove) Ghetto, then in May 1944, the Jews of the Beregszász Ghetto were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
A great many of the Jews from Bilky were murdered in Auschwitz and most all survivors settled elsewhere.
In 2001, Bilky had about 7,778 inhabitants and no Jews live there today.
Budapest, 1941 The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, (2001) p. 149 Not to Forget, Impossible to Forgive by Moshe AVITAL, Jerusalem, Mazo Publishers (2004) Subcarpathian Rus (Ukraine) Holocaust EncyclopediaUnited States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Accessed on 20 December 2010) The Holocaust in Subcarpathian Rus and Southern SlovakiaUnited States Holocaust Memorial Museum Holocaust Encyclopedia (Accessed on 25 January 2011) My Germany: A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped by Lev RAPHAEL, Madison, Wis: Terrace Books (2009)
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