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[Page 119]


48°23' / 25°31'

Translation of the chapter
“Waschkoutz” from Volume II:

Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina

Edited by: Hugo Gold

Written by: Dr. Ascher Leschem-Lifschitz, Haifa

Published in Tel Aviv, 1962

Translated by:

Irene Newhouse , Karl Otto , and Dick Kaulfuss

Contributed by:

Steven Garber

In memory of my grandparents Sam & Clara (Zloczower) Lifsches

This is a translation of the chapter “Waschkoutz”, Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina
{History of the Jews in the Bukovina} Editor: Dr. Hugo Gold, written by Dr. Ascher Leschem-Lifschitz, Haifa,
Olamenu Publishers, Tel-Aviv, 1962 (German).

Embedded in the Czeremosch Valley was the Community of Waschkoutz, the center of blooming fields, orchards, meadows, and therefore densely populated. The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century led to economic development. Sugar factories rose to process sugar beets, alcohol distilleries and mills were established in the burning spots * of this agricultural center. A wreath of villages lay around the little city of Waschkoutz, increasing affluence expressed itself in ever more beautiful private and public buildings. The population was for the most part of Little Russian heritage; later they were called Ruthenians, finally, after the Renaissance of European Peoples, Ukrainians. There were also pockets with Polish and Moldavian (Romanian) populations. Traces of the feudal system were visible everywhere: landed gentry, for the most part of Polish heritage, owned vast tracts of land and were the almost completely unfettered operators of sources of economic value (forests, factories, mills, etc.). The productivity of the economy grew.

A portion of the Jewish population, which had emigrated from neighboring Galicia since the beginning of the 18th century, felt attracted to this branch of the economy. Jewish farmers were no rarity in this region. In the course of centuries, Jews from Galicia and Moldavia were the driving force behind the economic development of this region. They raised livestock, pioneered exploitation of the forests, and industrialization. The marketing of agricultural products, too, as well as sales and production of commercial goods, not to mention many trades and crafts, e.g., tailor and barber, were in Jewish hands. Gradually the number of those who attended middle schools and universities rose, and many Jews were members of the intellectual professions (doctors, lawyers, engineers, civil servants). Waschkoutz had a population of about eight thousand people, among them a thousand Jews.

The first traces of Jewish settlements can be found back at the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the first Jewish families (Prostak, Lifsches, and Wiznitzer) settled there. The family of the landed squire Freytag (Polish) was the uncrowned ruler of this city. Later their importance waned, and the Jewish families, the Lifsches, Schauers, Hellreichs and Birnbaums leased a large portion of the lands and industries which they owned. The center of the city, as well as the streets and alleys in that area, were inhabited by Jewish tradesmen and dealers. Three houses of prayer took care of the religious needs of the Jewish population. Even before the beginning of the Herzl epoch, there was a Zionist Club formed, at the helm of which stood Moses Gaster. The Hassidic movement had many adherents, and the 'Miracle Rabbis' of Wiznitz, which was in the immediate vicinity, as well as those from the villages of Ottynya, Czortkow and others in Galicia, were often in this city as guests. There were cultural and singing groups, sports clubs and chess clubs. The Jewish Center was the central institution here.

The annexation to Romania brought the antisemitic movement into Ukranian and Polish districts. Now and again the smear campaign against Jews became serious. But the flow of Zionists and Chaluzistische (Halutzim? (Pioneers) -ed.) grew stronger and stronger; many emigrated to the then Palestine, some even to the countries of North and South America. With the Soviet occupation of North Bukowina, all expressions of Jewish public life came to an end. The Zionist institutions were disbanded, the Zionist movement persecuted, and on July 13 1941, around 150 Jewish citizens were deported to Siberia, where the majority of them died. Upon the reoccupation by German-Romanian troops in July 1941, the approx. 750 Jewish inhabitants of the town were packed into a ghetto and, in October of the same year, deported to Transnistria ( an area to the East, beyond the Dneister, ed.)

This was the end of the once-flourishing Jewish community in Waschkoutz am Czeremosch.

(related by Dr. A. Leschem-Lifschitz, Haifa)

* (meaning: the traditional places in which distillations had been done on a smaller scale for centuries, because these places were equidistant from sources of fuel & sources of syrup to distill. -translator's note ) Return

Editor's note: Vashkivtsi, Chernivtsi oblast, Ukraine, since 1991, was Vashkovtsy in the USSR (1944-1991), Vascauti in Romania (1919-1940), Waschkoutz am Czeremosch, Bukowina, Austria-Hungary (1775-1918). The Jewish/Yiddish name was Washkowitz (pronounced Vashkovitz).

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