ONLINE NEWSLETTER
(No. 1/2008 – August 2008)

 






This is a follow up aritcle from the original My Vitebsk that Esther Rechtschafner wrote.

Ed. Note: Footnotes will be found at the end of certain sections and not combined at the end of the article. 


© This article is copyrighted by Esther Rechtschafner

.

Reprinting or copying of this article is not allowed
without prior permission from the copyrightholders
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Pictures of The Vitebsk That Was

by Esther (Herschman) Rechtschafner

 

This is dedicated to Vivian Esther (Pass) Omerberg, the cousin of my late Father Oscar Herschman who was from an important Vitebsk family. My close contact with her (by means of communication only), has given me the feeling of my Father having a Family.





Introduction

 

My article about Vitebsk appeared on the web[1], I received many comments about it. I was honored to receive a very nice comment from Mr. Dave Fox[2], who was also kind enough to send me his collection of pictures of Vitebsk.

Mr. Dave Fox also sent me two lists from books about the Vitebsk cemetery. One is of Jews from Vitebsk who died in the Holocaust. It is translated, except for the introduction that explains the list of names. The other book is a list of burials in the Vitebsk cemetery. He asked that I not distribute this information to anyone at this time. It will eventually be made available of the Belarus SIG website once the introduction has been translated.[3]

These pictures shed much light on the Vitebsk that was. As it is said "one picture is worth a thousand words".

I needed some help in getting information about the pictures, and used the Vitebsk Memorial Book for this.[4] Trying to identify all of the pictures and to find a proper explanation for them was quite an exciting and interesting task. The names of the streets in the Vitebsk Memorial Book are written in Hebrew and if I didn't have any other source of the Enlgish names, transliterated them into English by myself. I have decided to copy the Map of Vitebsk, from the Vitebsk Memorial Book as an appendix[5], in order to make it easier to get a full picture of the city.

I believe that I could write about all the interesting people that I was lucky enough to be in contact with, in the process. I want to thank those who actually helped me: Ed Sternin[6] , Don Jarvis[7], and Daniel Krameshevsky[8].

Here is the collection of pictures of Vitebsk. I will try to add explanations to the pictures. I will footnote referrals to my article.

I hope that these pictures will help in being able to imagine what the Vitebsk that was looked like.

Sincerely,

ESTHER




Here are the pictures:

1. Vitebsk- in the 1900's



The translation of the caption is 'Regards from Vitebsk'.[9]



2. Vitebsk Center


Vitebsk Center is on the east side of the river and is the intersection of Zamkovaya and Gogol Street. The latter street north of Zamkovaya Street became Smolenskaya Street. Both Gogol and Zamkovaya Streets are now named Lenin Street.[10]

3. Vitebsk City



The translation of the caption is "The general view of the city".[11]



4. Vitebsk Town Map- 1839


The translation of the caption is "Vitebsk Town Map- 1839". The writing is not legible. Yet we can understand from it that this was a map of Vitebsk from 1778

_______________________________________________________________________________
[1] http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/newsletter/MyVitebsk.htm

[2] Mr. Dave Fox was the founder and past coordinator of the Belarus SIG. As such, he has collected some information about Vitebsk. He does not have any known family connections to the city. His family came from Mogilev and Minsk. He sent me this information and these pictures in an email. DF1

[3] DF2

[4] I also used this book as part of my Bibliography for my article. This Book contains quite a few pictures of Vitebsk, and of people from there, in it. See Bibliography

[5] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19

[6] Ed Sternin is an Associate Professor of physics at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. He comes from an old Vitebsk family and is organizer of the Vitebsk shtetl home page. There is also a nice selection of pictures on his Vitebsk website. PB

[7] Don K. Jarvis is a Professor of Germanic and Slavic Languages at the Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. BYU

[8] Daniel Krameshevsky is currently one of our students, at Yeshivat HeKibbutz HaDati (www.ykd.co.il), where I work as House-Mother. He helped me, by translating the Russian captions that appear on the pictures. He said that the messages written on the postcards are private messages and not of any historical value.

[9] DK

[10] DJ

[11] DK
_______________________________________________________________________________




5. The Dvina and Vitba Rivers


The translation of the caption here is "The Dvina and Vitba Rivers".[1]The geographic location of Vitebsk was a big advantage to the economic life in the city[2]. Unfortunately the Nazis killed many Jews at the river bank.[3]



6. Vitebsk Bridge, pre 1917


The city was divided into two parts by the bridge. The Jewish quarter was in the smaller part of the city.[4] It was on the lower, west side of the river. It is important to remember that the city was officially 50% Jewish (but probably more like 70 - 80%).The city was not strictly segregated, and many Jews lived on the East side of the river.[5] The translation of the caption is "General View of Vitebsk from the Dvina River".[6]


7. Vitebsk, Western Dvina, R1912


It seems that this is called the "Western Dvina for the northern part of the river makes a bit of a turn to the west. [7] This is the Russian name of the river; presumably, there was another Dvina before the western lands were acquired by the Russian Empire, or the name emphasizes the westward flow direction of the river. [8]


8. Vitebsk River


The translation of the caption here is "Vitebsk River".[9] It seems to be a view of the Dvina River from north to south.


9. Old Bridge on the Dvina River


The translation of the caption here is "Old Bridge on the Dvina River".[10] One bridge was destroyed during WWII, and has been rebuilt.[11]


10. Vitebsk Train Station


The translation of the caption here is "Vitebsk Train Station".[12] The railroad was completed in the 1860's and caused an increase in the commerce of Vitebsk.[13] It is on the west side of the river at the end of Vokzalnaya Street, and was west of the "Jewish Quarter."[14]


_______________________________________________________________________________

[1] DK

[2] Article, page 4

[3] Article, page 24

[4] Article, page 7

[5] DJ

[6] DK

[7] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19. See Picture 2 "Vitebsk Center", page 4.

[8] ES

[9] DK

[10] DK

[11] DJ

[12] DK

[13] Article, page 5

[14] DJ, See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.
_______________________________________________________________________________




11. Railroad Bridge


The translation of the caption here is "The Iron Bridge on the Dvina River'.[1]This bridge was on the southern part of the Dvina River. The trains that went east from this bridge were on the Smolensk –Moscow route, and the Kiev-Moscow route.[2] In 1910 there was one railroad bridge at the very south end of the city near the Jewish cemetery[3], which lay right on the west bank of the river. The other bridge was the main one described above for general traffic. West of the river, the street leading from this main bridge was and is called Vokzalnaya (Station) Street and led directly to the Jewish quarter[4] The routes of the trains from here were northwest to Leningrad and southwest to Riga.[5]



12.Firehouse


The translation of the caption is "The firehouse".[6] This was a tower for exercises for the fire department on the east side of the Dvina River, just south of the bridge. The fire station was located on the northeastern side of Zamkova Street[7].[8]



13. Vitebsk Commercial School


The translation of the caption here is "Commercial School, named Greriokov"[9] This was located on the southeastern side of Zamkova Street.[10] It was on the right side of the "Young Girls School"(gymnasium).[11]



14. Gymnasium in Vitebsk


The translation of the caption is "This is the "Varvarina School for Young Girls". There is a French and a Belarus Caption here. [12]



15. Varvara Womens' Gymnasium


The translation of the caption here is"Varvara Womens' School".[13] This was a Girls High School. It was located to the right of the Commercial School, on the southern side of Zamkova Street.[14]



16. Hotel Brozi


The translation of the caption is 'Hotel Brozi'.[15] Marc Chagall's wife Bella lived there. [16]



17. Vitebsk Church and Cathedral


The translation of the caption is "Capolonim Church and Pravoslavic Church on Suworow Street". [17] The location is at the southern end of the street.[18]



18. Gogol Street Church


The translation of the caption is " Kosto-Catholic Church of the Poles.[19]Gogol Street ran southwards from the City Center[20]. It passed over the Duna River. It ended at the Mohilev marketplace.[21]



19. Vitebsk Synagogue 1904


The translation of the caption is "The Great Synagogue".[22]This is a picture of the Zautziya Synagogue. It was on the 'other side' (eastern side) of the Divina River (in relationship to the Jewish Quarter).[23] It was located directly south of the Duna River and directly east of the Dvina River.[24] The main Synagogue and another large synagogue were also on the east side, on Suworow Street[25]. The main Synagogue was called the "Slovodka".[26]



20. Rabbi of Vitebsk, Chagal


Vitebsk was the center for many Jewish Artists. There was an Art School there. [27] Chagal was the most famous of these artists, and still brings pride to Vitebsk and the new Jewish community there today[28].



_______________________________________________________________________________
[1] DK

[2] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[3] There was a 'New Jewish Cemetery on the eastern side of the Dvina River, just east of Smolenskia Road. See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[4] DJ

[5] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[6] DK

[7] See See Pictures 20-1, "Zamkovaya Street" and "Zamkova Street", page 14.

[8] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[9] DK

[10] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19. See Pictures 20-1, "Zamkovaya Street" and "Zamkova Street", page 14.

[11] See Pictures 20-1, "Zamkovaya Street" and "Zamkova Street", page 14. The term "gymnasium" here is a synonym for "high school".

[12] DK

[13] DK

[14] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19. See Pictures 20-1, "Zamkovaya Street" and "Zamkova Street" page 14.

[15] DK

[16] DJ

[17] DK. See Picture 22 "Suvorow Street", page 15.

[18] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[19] DK

[20] See Picture 2 "Vitebsk Center", page 4.

[21] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[22] DK

[23] SV, page 27

[24] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[25] See Picture 22 "Suvorow Street", page 15.

[26] DJ

[27] Article, pages 16-7

[28] Article, pages 27, 31
_______________________________________________________________________________

21. Zamkovaya Street


The translation of the caption here is " Zamkovaya Street"[1] This street was called Zamkovaya/ Zamkova Street[2]. This street was located on the eastern side of the Dvina River, one block south of the Dvina River Bridge, and one block north of the Duna River.[3] It began at the bridge over the Duna Rivera and went northeast until the first intersection from where it went east until the city center and the intersection with Gogol Street. The Chica Cellar (Savoy Hotel) and Commercial School were located on the southern side of the street and the MiniatureTheater and the Fire Department on the north side of the street.[4] Zamkovaya (Castle) Street used to lead straight westward toward the river from the center of Vitebsk (Gogol Street, roughly 2 blocks east of the river), then veered south-west to end near the river. To get to the bridge leading over the river to the Jewish quarter, one had to go about a block north from Zamkovaya on Pushkin Street. After WWII, the Soviets straightened Zamkovaya Street to lead directly to the bridge.[5]



22. Vitebsk, Zamkova Street, 1915


The translation of the caption is "Zamkova Street".[6]



23. Suworow Street


Suworow Street was/is on the east side of the West Dvina River, running NNW from bridge over the Vitba River at the City Center intersection[7] by way of the Resurrection (Market) Church intersection at Tolstoi and Smolenskaya Streets. It is still called by this name.[8]



24. Smolenska Street


The translation of the caption is "Kamilan Bridge".[9] This bridge crossed over the Vitba River from north to south, from Smolenska Street to the "City Center".[10]



25. Poddvinskaya Street


The translation of the caption here is "Poddvinskaya Street".[11] This Street was located on the eastern side of the Dvina River, and directly north of the Vitba River. It began right after Verkania Street which was directly parallel to the eastern side of the Dvina river bank, and a long the northern side of the Vitba River until it reached the northern side of the city center and the intersection of Smolenska and Suworow Streets. The Jewish Hospital was located on the northern side of this street.[12]



26. Vitebsk, Duhovsky Pereulok


The translation of the caption here is " Duhovsky Lane'.[13]



______________________________________________________________________________
[1] DK

[2] DJ

[3] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[4] IBID

[5] DJ

[6] DK

[7] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[8] DJ

[9] DK

[10] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19. See Picture 2, "Vitebsk Center", page 4.

[11] DK

[12] See Appendix- Map of Vitebsk, page 19.

[13] DK
_______________________________________________________________________________




27. Marcus, 1910



13 Census of USA,Manhattan Bourough,New York City

(details given for100 people)

This certificate can be enlarged. I have done so, and read through the names. The place of origin of most the people is listed as RUSSIA. I suppose that some of them may have come from Vitebsk.




Appendix


Map of Vitebsk[1]






Conclusion


I have enjoyed doing the reference about these pictures very much. After much use of the map in the Vitebsk Memorial Book, I began to know where places were. This gave me a good feeling- a feeling that I now know more about the Vitebsk that was. It also strengthened the bond between what was my Vitbsk family background and me.

I hope that this article will also help you in feeling the same way.

Bibliography Abbreviations

Sefer Vitebsk (Vitebsk Memorial Book), Baruch Krau-editor, Tel Aviv, 1957 SV

My Vitebsk, Esther Rechtschafner,
(http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/newsletter/MyVitebsk.htm) Article




Emails

Dave Fox, July 10, 2007 DF1
Dave Fox, July 11, 2007 DF2
Donald K. Jarvis, July 22, 2007 DJ
Ed Sternin, July 18, 2007 ES




Internet


physics.brocku.ca PB
byu.edu/opages BYU




Translation


Daniel Krameshevsky, July 26, 2007 DK

_______________________________________________________________________________
[1] SV, page 136

 

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