Historical Background

Postcard: beer brewing factory
Fastov: Beer brewing factory circa 1900–1909

The city of Fastov — which name possibly originated from falling into Unava River springs called “Fosy” — was founded in 1390. In the 15th century the city was completely destroyed by Tatars and its area remained abandoned until the 16th century when it came under jurisdiction of Poland. During 17th–18th centuries the city was often mentioned in relation to Cossack wars with Polish authorities. In 1793, after the Second Partition of Poland, Fastov became a part of Russian Empire as a city of Kiev Region (guberniya), Vasilkov District (uezd) [1][2].

Postcard: greetings
Greetings from Fastov: Marketplace circa 1900-1909

The first Jewish settlement in Fastov more likely goes back to the 17th century since it was mentioned among other Jewish communities that were destroyed by Bohdan Khmelnitsky and his bands in 1648–1658 [3]. During the 18th century Jewish residents of Fastov significantly suffered from Haidamak riots, especially in 1768 [4]. Haidamaks were Cossack military groups which were known for their brutal massacres of Jewish and Polish population in 1734, 1750 and 1768 mainly in Kiev, Volhynia and Podolya regions. The Haidamak uprising of 1768 was led by Maxim Zheleznyak who used to slaughter Jews and Poles under the slogan: “A Pole, a Jew and a dog - all of one faith” [5] [6]. One of Haidamak groups that massacred Jewish and Polish residents in Kiev region in 1768 was headed by Yakiv (Mikita) Shvachka. Together with his thugs he killed over 700 Jews and Poles in Fastov and turned the city into his own headquarter [7]. The Fastov massacre was preserved in Ukrainian folklore as sympathetically depicting Shvachka’s actions: “And Yakiv Shvachka walks in Fastov and [he] walks in yellow boots. Oh, he was hanging Jews; oh, he was hanging Poles on landlords’ gates” [7]. Luckily, in 1769 Haidamak massacres were stopped by both Russian and Polish forces that managed to execute most Haidamak leaders.

Postcard: Unava bridge
Fastov: Unava River Bridge circa 1900-1909

During the 19th century the Jewish population of Fastov slowly grew. In 1852, there were one regular and two in-home synagogues, while Jewish residents numbered 2,699 [8]. In 1881 there were 3,158 Jewish inhabitants in the city [9], whereas in 1897 the Jewish population increased to 5,595 people [4]. As of 1900, there were six synagogues and two Jewish schools (one for boys and one for girls) in Fastov, according to the List of Inhabitant Places in Kiev region [10]. By 1919 there were between 8,000 and 10,000 Jewish residents in the city [11].

Postcard: Cathedral Street
Fastov: Cathedral Street circa 1900–1909

The life of Fastov Jewish community was directly affected by social and political events in Russia of the 20th century. During the civil war pogroms in Russia (1918–1921), Fastov Jewry dramatically suffered from Denikin massacre of 1919 (see pogrom section for details). The civil war and aftermath events in Russia caused many Jewish residents to immigrate to North America. With the establishment of the Soviet regime in early 1920s, which suppressed any religious activities in Russia, all the city synagogues were closed down and later used for different purposes (thus, one of the remaining synagogues is currently used as a police station). The Jewish cemetery was vandalized by Bolsheviks in the late 1920s: cemetery grave stones were used for one of the buildings; later most of the cemetery was destroyed during the WWII while some grave stones were used for construction a local detention center. In 1930s Fastov Jewish schools (where Yiddish was a language of instruction) were closed down since the Soviets tried to prohibit Jewish children from learning their native language. By 1939 the Jewish population of Fastov reduced to 2,149 [12] people due to migration, communistic repressions and famine of 1932–1933 (known as Holodomor). From 1941 to 1943 Fastov was occupied by Nazis. For that period of time, they massacred about 1,000 of Jews from Fastov and Fastov area [6] (see Holocaust section for details). After the war, there was still a small Jewish community in the city which gradually decreased due to Jewish immigration in 1970–1990s. Currently, according to Vladimir Boroshenko, an ex-chair of Jewish community, there are about 30 Jewish residents in Fastov*.

Fastov cemetery
The remains of Fastov Jewish cemetery (photo taken by Vladimir Pluta; April 2011)


  1. Fastiv // Wikipedia (in Ukrainian)
  2. Fastov // Ukrainian cities and districts. Ukrainian Directory (in Russian)
  3. Cossacks’ Uprising // Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906
  4. Fastov // Jewish Encyclopedia of Brokgauz & Efron, 1908–1913 (in Russian)
  5. Haidamaks // Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906
  6. Pohilevich, L. Skazanija o naselennyh mesnostjah Kievskoj gubernii (Legends about populated areas in Kiev Gubernija), 1864 (in Russian)
  7. Haidamaks // Our Ukraine (in Russian)
  8. Funduklej, I.I. Statisticheskoe opisanie Kievskoj gubernii (Statistic description of Kiev gubernija), Sanct-Petersburg, 1852 (in Russian)
  9. Mozgovoj V.G. Kievskaja gubernija (Kiev gubernija), Kiev, 1881 (in Russian)
  10. Spisok naselennyh mest Kievskoj gubernii (The list of populated areas in Kiev gubernija), Kiev, 1900. (in Russian)
  11. Kniga pogromov. Sbornik documentov (Book of pogroms. Pogroms in Ukraine, Belorussia and European part of Russia during the civil war of 1918–1922. Collection of documents); pp. 241–255 (in Russian). Moscow, 2007
  12. Goncharenko, A.M. Fastov // Encyclopedia of Holocaust in the Soviet Union, Moscow 2011 (in Russian)

*The author expresses deep gratitude to Vladimir Boroshenko for providing facts on Fastov Jewish community life during pre- and post-war period of time.

Content last updated Monday, July 04, 2011 at 05:05 PM Mountain Daylight Time

Fastov, Ukraine
כוואסטוב אוקראינע

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