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Old Website Town Pages

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The information on this page has been compiled by Ukraine SIG long time ago.
As JewishGen and the Ukraine SIG evolved, the contents of the page became redundant with other areas of
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Kiev Province


Ita WOLINSKY GREENBERG of Boguslav and her family
The older woman in the middle of the front row is Ita Wolinsky Greenberg. She was born in Boguslav, immigrated first to Odessa, then to Alexandria, to Palestine, and finally settled in Melbourne - photo and notes by Steve Orlen.


Boguslav, also called Boslov by its Jewish community, began its existence as a Lithuanian city in the twelfth century, passed to Polish control by the end of the fifteenth century, and the Jews were already present there from at least the early 1600s.A large and substantial synagogue was part of the city's notable architecture from the 16th century period of Jewish settlement.

Jews were active in all spheres of town business during the Polish period, and though the town tried to restrict them from certain activities, they were not successful in the face of the opposition of the local nobleman who owned the city outright. Although Russians and Poles note that in both the Polish-Muscovy wars and the Khmilnitsky Massacres, Boguslav took heavy losses, no Jew wrote of the communities's losses here, so it is not recorded in Jewish sources.

The eighteenth century saw the ambitions of Russia's Empress Catherine the Great played out in Boguslav's front yard with the Haidamaks being incited to attack vulnerable Jewish and Polish settlements throughout the Ukraine. The city was not defensible, and the Jewish population fled to safer havens in 1768. Their homes were destroyed, and their movable property largely vanished. The 1765 tax receipts had recorded a flourishing community of 574 head of households able to pay the poll-tax, but just three years later in the wake of the 1768 Moscow-supported attacks, only 251 remained.

Boguslav remained a Polish city until the last of Poland was divided by its neighbors when they found themselves Russian subjects. [According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, a Jewish printing press was established in the year 1809 in Boguslav, but according to the Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance Online, "The Hebrew printing press was established there in 1820 - 21. ... Jewish-owned enterprises included textile and tanning factories, and that Jews engaged in handicrafts and dealt in grain and fruit. The Jewish population numbered 5,294 in 1847 and 7,445 in 1897 (65% of the total)." *

The Jewish Encylopedia, printed in the early twentieth century says "The town has a population of about 12,000, of which 10,000 are Jews." In support of its statement of the dating of the Jewish printing office is its assertion that the first work published on that press was "Besamim Rosh," by Joseph Katz. The Wiesenthal page goes on to say that the town's Jews caught the brunt of the attacks by both armies and a peasantry incited to pogrom in the Civil War that followed World War I.

Denikin's forces, which were known for their vicious attacks on Jewish populations, was able to attack and kill forty of the most vulnerable members of the Jewish community, before a Jewish self-defence force organized the Jewish population. They wer so successful at this that Boguslav became a place of refuge for smaller Jewish communities throughout the Kiev area. The self-defense force continued in existence until the Soviets outlawed it several years later in 1923.

Half of the pre-war (WWII) population was Jewish, around 6,500 of around 12,000. During WWII, many of the Jewish young men were serving in the Soviet Army so were saved from the devastation of their community. However, the old, the ill, and those who were not allowed to flee to the interior, were in the jaws of the Nazi killing machine in 1941.

* (The Wiesenthal information was found on a search of cached Google pages http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/text/x03/xr0392.html as retrieved on Nov 16, 2004.

By Deborah G. Glassman, copyright 2005



A 2003 interview with a Kiev resident Leonid Rozenfeld is at Centropa's Witness to a Jewish Century.  He recalls Boguslav in the early part of the century. Leonid describes the town physically, with a great deal of fondness, as he talks about the livelihoods of the Jews in the time of his grandparents, and remembers how his father, a soldier in the Russian Army in World War I, helped to organize the self-defense units described above.

Leonid remembered, "My father spoke at a gathering to the young Jewish people appealing to them to organize a self-defense unit to struggle against the bandits. There were about 600 people in their units. They had 250 rifles, two automatic guns, bombs and grenades. I have no idea where they managed to get these weapons. The unit raided nearby villages and towns fighting the bandits.

Boguslav became a center of self-defense in Kanev district, Kiev region. The local population sympathized with them and supported them with food and accommodation. They struggled for three years. At the third anniversary of their fighting unit my father made an ardent speech expressing his appreciation of their bravery. In summer 1923 the fighting unit of Boguslav was dismissed since there were no bandits left in the country and the country and its people were starting peaceful reconstruction work." 

Another interview with Boguslav native Yefim Levitsky is at the Southwest Jewish Archives website.  Interviewed May 24, 1999, he recalled many aspects of his life, including the time in Boguslav when the Jewish schools were closed by the Soviet authorities.


Possible Additional Resources for Boguslav

The Central Archives in Kiev has a collection of metrical books filled in by the State Rabbi for each community, covering different years. Boguslav is reported to have one book from the single year 1848.

The Jewish Studies Institute of the Ukraine was working on a Guidebook to Jewish Addresses of the Ukraine and among the completed sections in 2003 was Boguslav as appears on this note on their website Jewish Studies Institute The guide contains of seven sections: Kiev region, Podolye, Volyn, Novorossia, Crimea, Galicia, and Bukovina. Special sections are devoted to big cities with the Jewish heritage: Kharkov, Poltava, and Chernigov. The structure of each section is the following: a review article on the region; general history of each locality; a tour route about every populated locality. Work has been finished on preparation of the whole body of articles. Articles on the main sections have been edited – on Poltava, Zaporozhye, Kiev, Kiev region, Zhitomir, Lutsk, Uman, Podolye, Odessa, Chernovtsy, Bukovina, Kharkov, Vinnitsa, Lvov, Cherkassy, Belaya Tserkov, Boguslav, Shargorod, Khmelnitsky, Gusyatin, Satanov, and Medzhibozh.

There is a report in 1919 from THE RUSSIAN RED CROSS COMMITTEE OF ASSISTANCE.   "ACTING ESTABLISHMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS UNDER FORMATION ON AUGUST 1, 1919" which lists among its emergency responses - for the borough of Boguslav - an emergency soup kitchen for 500 people, an public health infirmary for infectious disease, and an orphanage for 300 children.



Other websites with information about Boguslav

Mike Tobin has a nice little site about Boguslav, including pictures taken there in the last ten years including some surviving cemetery stones. 


  • Last Modified: 02-20-2012
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