A hospital was built in 1827; a mutual
fund bank for petty merchants and artisans was established early in the twentieth century; a law court
was functioning by the 1920s; a Jewish elementary school as well as an industrial school were in
operation; and there was a Jewish Department in the local university, as well as an
Chabad Hasidic Yeshiva. Kherson was a center of the Chabad movement as well as an active center of
By late in the nineteenth century, just under half of Kherson City merchants were Jewish. Eight factories
fifty-five shops, fifteen percent and forty-five percent, respectively, of the total
factories and shops belonged to Jews. Many Jews worked in factories. Kherson Jews were also
involved in the timber and grain trades. Ninety percent of the lumber yards were Jewish owned.
The early years of the nineteenth century also saw the establishment of Jewish Agricultural Colonies in
the region that became Kherson Province. By mid-century, there were more than three-thousand-eight-hundred
Jews living within the borders of the province.
All of this progress came crashing down in the twentieth century. Throughout the Ukraine, the pogroms of
1905 were the first in a series of pogroms of increasing viciousness. April 1919 saw the depredations by
Denikin's minions. During the Russian Civil War (1919-1921), the suffering brought on by murder and mayhem
was compounded by the forced famine imposed by the Soviets on the entire Ukrainian population.
Read more on pogroms at Wikipedia and
USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia.
These were the harbingers of the approaching fury. The Germans marched into Kherson on 19 August 1941.
Ten days after the German blight entered the town, one-hundred Jews were murdered; early September
saw one-hundred-ten more slaughtered. The Nazis established a ghetto on 7 September with the standard
Judenrat and Jewish police force. Einsatzkommando 11a rolled up its sleeves and got to
work soon thereafter, murdering
Jews on 24 September 1941. Any Jews who escaped were hunted down and executed. Several months later, in
February 1942, four-hundred children of mixed marriages were deemed too tainted by “Jewish
blood” to be
allowed to live.
After The War, Jews began to filter back into Kherson. By 1959, the Jews of Kherson made up six percent
(9,500 souls) of the city's population. That year the Soviets closed the town's only synagogue; it would
not re-open until 1991, upon the collapse of the Soviet State.