Welcome to
Shchirets, Ukraine
Szczerzec, Shtcherzetz, Shchezhets, Szczyrzec, Scyrec'
The town's name in Polish is Szczerzec. The combination of sz is sh as in show;
the combination cz is ch as in sandwich; and the combination rz is not present in English- the closest is probably j as in journal. So the combination of the word is pronounced "Shchejets". Shchirets is the English transliteration of the Ukrainian name by which the town is now known.

Thanks to Leon Chameides for the Pronunciation

      Location 49°39' 23°52'                                      

           Snowy street In Shchirets              
          Street where most Jews once lived  
snowystreetjewish street

Town History

The Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume II
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Szczerzec

A Brief Description of Shchirets by Oleh Stetsychyn
For the first time, it was mentioned in the chronicles of 12th century as a castle of Ukrainian knights. After the year of 1340 these lands were seized by Poland and from that time governed by it (except years 1772-1918, when Western Ukraine was apart of Austro-Hungarian Empire). Till the World War II Szczerzec was rather big town with developed industry and trade. It was inhabited by the representatives of 4 nations - Ukrainians, Jews, Poles and Germans. Poles were considered to be a predominant nation and political power was privately owned by them. Jews were engaged in business but Ukrainians and Germans were peasants.

In the town we still have old pre-war streets and central square Rynok, which were erected by Jewish merchants. Truth to tell, this edifice is in a very poor condition. Christian churches are still functioning, but the apartment of Jewish house of pray is used as studying building of one of the schools. On the outskirts remained very beautiful Jewish cometary where probably some prominent Jewish Tsadic was buried.

Now we don`t have Jews in Szczerzec any more, but before the war, as my grandmother mentioned, about two thousand of Jews lived there.
They had their own shops, factories and generally were very rich. During the war nazists established a ghetto for them. On the outskirts of the
village, from where in the year of 1943 they were taken to the nearest railway station and brought out to Auszwic. My grandfather always recollected how they were kicked in the street, how small kids were crying, asking their parents where they were taken. Some people were carrying furniture and big bundles of cloth on the coops. My grandfather always closed his conversation about this with indignation: Why did Germans kill all this peoples? What they were guilty of?

Only few of them were rescued from eviction, those who served in Jewish police. They hided in the local citizens and waited for the arrival of Soviet forces. But Russians arrested them for collaboration with nazists. After the war Poles and Germans moved from the town and mainly Ukrainians live there now.

This is all I wanted to tell you about Szczerzec. I apologize for the possible mistakes in text - I don`t speak English perfectly well.
Oleh still has family living in Shchirets today.

The Jewish Cemetery
mossy stonesstones in snow

A Recent Visit to Shchirets by Leon Chameides

In October 2007 my wife, Jean, our youngest son, David, and I visited western Ukraine including the city of Lviv and the small town of Shchirets.
Shchirets is located 14 miles from Lviv and before the war was almost 90% Jewish. My paternal great grandparents lived there as did my grandparents.
My father was born there in 1902 and I lived there from 1939-1942.

I was born in Katowice in western Poland, where my father served as the community Rabbi. Shortly before the outbreak of WW II, my parents, my
older brother and I fled our home eastward. After living in Lviv for a short time, we joined our grandparents in Shchirets. The area was first occupied
by the Soviets and in June 1941 by the Germans. Shchirets was the town where I first learned the meaning of deprivation, of hunger, and of fear.
It was the town where I experienced my first pogrom, where I last saw my grandparents, and where I said good bye to my mother. I left Shchirets
with my father hidden in a truck full of forced Jewish laborers and went to Lviv where father had arranged for my brother and me to be hidden by the
Greek Catholic Church and its head, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky’i. I spent the next two years (1942-1944) in the Uniate Monastery in the nearby
town of Univ.

It was therefore with some emotion and mixed feelings that I returned with my family to Shchirets. The streets were now paved, the wagons pulled by
horses now had rubber tires, and there were no Jews. We found a few elderly women who remembered that Jews had lived here but, except for the
cemetery, there are no physical traces left of our long sojourn. They remembered how the Germans herded the Jews into the synagogue and kept
them locked up without food for 10 days before taking the survivors to the railway station. They remembered that the synagogue was then blown up
and one man told us that he recalled that his father had used the bricks to build the houses across the street. My grandparents’ little house was
now an alley, the place where our synagogue and mikveh stood was now a school and playground. Children were playing, laughing, clowning for our
camera and had no idea what had stood there once.

Since there were no traces of Jews among the living, we went over to the other side of town, past the Ukrainian church, over a stream, up the hill in
search of the Jewish cemetery. Near a well we met an old lady bent with age. She was filling two buckets with water and was carrying them down
the hill to her house. My son, Dave, got out of the car to help her but she would have none of it. It was a ritual she repeated twice a day and today
would be no exception. We followed her to her house where she stopped and in what seemed to be a ritual she scooped a handful of water from each
pail and spilled it on the ground. Her name is Stephania Kokurudza. She is in her eighties and takes care of the Jewish cemetery. Her parents did
it for pay for the Jewish community and when they died she took over the task even though she no longer gets paid. She told us that demons come
every night from the cemetery and jump through her window. She pointed to a flat area in the distance. “See those demons? They are the small
ones. Usually they are much bigger. Oh, you probably can’t see them!” She thought there were about 800 gravestones there and worries about
what will happen to them after she is gone. She pointed to a clearing and told us about a group of Jews who were herded there in 1942 and shot.

The cemetery is in the woods. Undoubtedly, this was once clear land but nature has had its way and trees have overgrown it and sometimes in the
ensuing conflict between roots and headstones, the latter have lost and are now overturned. Many of the
headstones are covered with moss and are
unreadable but the ones that are not have unusually beautifully carved letters and
symbolic art. We were told that the moss is protective and that
clearing it would endanger the printing. There is a treasure trove
of information here but very difficult to access. It is impossible to move these
headstones but it should be possible to clean them,
and photograph them so an inventory could be made. It would be a monumental task.

 Mrs. Kokurudza in the cemetery 

Mrs. K

Clearing where many Jews were shot to death in 1942


Research (Please click on links)

Szczerzec Surnames in JRIP, 1875- 1901

JRI- Poland PSA AGAD Indexing
Birth 1875,78,80-82,85,88,89,93-99,1901
Marriage 1877,78,80-83,85-90,93,94,96-98,1900

Death 1869,78,79,81,82,84,86,89,96,97,1900,01

1929 Polish Database Directory Project - Szczerzec

Gesher Galicia SIG

Other Resources

Shchirets Landsmanshaften Cemeteries in New York

Szczeizica Sick Ben. Society (post)
Mt. Zion
Path D4 Left, Gate 8

Independent Szczerzecer Sick & Benevolent Association
Block 18, Section 2

Sczerzercer Kranken Unt. Verein (post)

Mt. Judah
Section 2, Block 5

Independent Szczerzecer Sick & Benevolent Association
Block 18, Gate 376/W

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                                                             Many thanks to Leon Chameides for his contributions to this page.
                                                                                 Compiled by Sandi Goldsmith
Created  May 16, 2008 Copyright
                                                                                       © 2008
Sandi Goldsmith