Vitebsk Logo

       Date Last Updated: 18-May-2012

Vitebsk Families Stories and Pictures


The Itkin Family

This information was donated by PB

The Itkin family was founded by David Itkin, who moved to the Kolyshki shtetl in about 1870, probably from Orsha. He came from a poor family but very quickly he became a first guild merchant. He is mentioned in the "Vsya Rossia" business directory.

David Itkin became very rich. Before the revolution, the family vacationed in European resorts every year. He had following children:
Vulf - was the oldest. He worked with David's in his business. After the revolution he lived in Vitebsk, and then in Kharkov, before WWII.. He went to Riga on June 21 1941 and disappeared after the beginning of the war. He was my great-great grand father.
Kalman - We know nothing about him.
Zalman- We know nothing about him.
Isaac - We know nothing about him.
(Yudif) Iguda – She married the merchant Khaim Nezlin, He is mentioned in the "VSya Rossia". Her children Solomon and David Nezlin were famous soviet doctors and professors.
Sonya - married Abram Raycyn.

There are 2 files of Solomon Nezlin memories about the family in Russian.

File 1-Kolyshki, English summary: My Life by S.E.Nezlina

I was born on March 10, 1892, in the small village Pegs in the Vitebsk province. According to the census of 1897, the population was 1568; 1127 were Jews.(Jewish Encyclopedia,volume 9, page 682, 1913). The Jews worked in handicrafts (tailors, shoemakers, smiths, etc.), which served and served the area. Pegs was situated 20 km from the railway station Liozno. This is where the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was born in 1795.

My parents were engaged in commerce; my father traded in the hardware goods, and my mother in manufactured goods. Their customers were basically peasants from the nearest villages. There were 5 Synagogues, a church, an inn for poor visitors who came to collect charity and who know one refused. All the Jews observed religious practices and traditions, but few were fanatics and these were mainly old men. Pegs was surrounded by fields, arable lands and woods. Mutual relations between Jews and Russian population were (at least externally) rather satisfactory. Almost each Jewish family had a kitchen garden, with a cow and hens.

My maternal grandfather David was a very clever, practical and physically strong person. He came from a rather poor family. At the age of 15, on his own initiative, he went to Tambov. He purchased horses from the landowners, sold them to local peasants and brought the money to his parents. At the age of 16 he married, and built a 2 storey house in Pegs. He was the father of 4 sons and 2 daughters. He was a good-looking man. He traded flax, which he bought from the peasants, and traded horses. He gave much charity. He usually had poor guests at his table for Shabbat. He had wine from the Holy land. He was an honorable member of the community; head of the burial society, a police officer, and a fighter for rights for the Jews. He was the representative of the Jewish community in the municipality.

My uncle Woolf knew Russian, wrote for newspapers and magazines; and in the Jewish magazine “HaShachar”. I read the children’s columns as a youth and a teenager. My Mother and my Aunt Sonia read a lot. They received a secondary education at the Jewish Program School in Vitebsk. My Mother married Chaim, who came from a good religious family, by a shiduch (matchmaker). She was quite clever.

My grandfather Helmet, on my Father’s side was an interesting person. He was deeply religious. He arose at midnight every night, sat on a low bench, dressed in a torn old suit, strew ashes on his head and read special prayers in a mourning chant, for the destruction of the second temple. He did business with the local peasants. They knew about his religious customs. When he came to their houses the men would ask their wives to move the pigs. He tried not to pass in front of a church, even if he had to lengthen the way. He followed the instructions in the Talmud, for personal hygiene. He bathed in a river or a lake, since the local village bath was not too clean. A peasant saw him bathing this way in the winter and fled on his horse. He was a sincere and fair person.

My Father too had a religious education, but he also studied and read secular literature. He was greatly influenced by J.L.Gordon. He was a sensitive and very intelligent man, and knew the whole Bible by heart. Under other circumstances, he would probably become a great scientist. He loved music and learned to play the violin when he was young. His violin was burnt in a fire. My mother made sure that my brother Veniamin and I receive a good education.

One of my paternal grandfather’s relatives was the chief Rabbi of Kiev from1906 to 1921. His name was Rabbi Shlomo Aharonson. He helped organize legal protection. He was an ardent Zionist and came on Aliyah in 1923. He was the chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv until his death. One of his brothers was head of the local Jewish community in Kharkov. The third brother was a famous Yiddish writer.

File 2- Nezlin, English summary: My Relatives

Relatives on my Father’s side:
My great-grandmother was sick with (probably) tuberculosis; but she lived to be almost 80 years old. My grandfather David, Mendel and Chaim were her sons. Mendel lived to a ripe old age. Chaim was sick with pleurisy. He seemed to have caught it in the village Trunks, where he lived. My Mother cared for him. He died young. Mendel’s wife was Chia.

Relatives on my Mother’s side:-My Uncle Kalman and Aunt Sonia were my Mother’s siblings. They took cod-liver oil at an early age. They also went to a health resort called Mepah. My uncle Volf’s wife also had a bad cough, and it was hard for her to breathe. She often went to health resorts, including MEPAH.

This is followed by a ”Family Tree”.

For more details, you can read the family story in Russian on the website:

There is also excellent article in Russian on the Kolyshki shtetl:


Khaim Nezlim (husband of Igudka Itkin)

Igudka Itkin

Isaak Itkin

Vulf Itkin - "To dear children from father, Vitebsk, 1928"

Meir Itkin - Vulf's son - Vitebsk 1915

Meir Itkin - Vulf's son - Vitebsk 1917