views updated May 14 2018


City and naval base on the southwestern tip of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine.

With its excellent harbors and anchorages, Sevastopol has an advantageous location from which to conduct operations in the Black Sea. The city stands on the southern shore of Sevastopol Bay and has a population of 390,00075 percent Russian and 20 percent Ukrainian. The site of ancient settlements, modern Sevastopol was founded by Prince Grigory Potemkin in 1783 after the conquest of the Crimean Khanate. Admiral F.F. Mekenzy, commander of the newly created Black Sea Fleet, placed a naval station there, and in 1784 the settlement was named Sevastopol.

In 1804 Alexander I's government declared Sevastopol the primary naval base of the Black Sea Fleet. The naval base and the city grew significantly during the second quarter of the nineteenth century when Admiral Mikhail Lazarev served as fleet commander. By 1844 the city had a population of more than forty thousand, making it the largest city in Crimea. Sevastopol became the major base for fitting out and repairing warships. Its defenses grew in extent and quality.

In 1853 Admiral Pavel Nakhimov's squadron sailed from there to Sinope, where it annihilated a Turkish squadron. During the Crimean War, Anglo-French forces besieged Sevastopol. The defense was immortalized by Leo Tolstoy, one of the defenders, in his Sevastopol Tales. Sevastopol fell to the Anglo-French forces in September 1855.

Following the Crimean War, Sevastopol suffered decline, because the peace treaty denied Russia the right to maintain a fleet in the Black Sea. With the remilitarization of the Black Sea after 1870 Sevastopol regained its importance as a naval base for a modern ironclad fleet.

Sevastopol was associated with rebellion, mutiny, and civil war. In 1830 government restrictions to combat a cholera epidemic set off a revolt among sailors and civilians. In June 1905 the battleship Potemkin sailed from Sevastopol on its way to mutiny over bad meat. During the Russian civil war Sevastopol was the headquarters of Baron Peter Wrangel's White Army. The Red Army under Mikhail Frunze stormed Crimea in October 1920, and Wrangel evacuated his army to Istanbul.

During World War II Sevastopol was the site of an eight-month siege by German and Rumanian forces under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein and fell in July 1942. On May 9, 1944, the Soviet Fourth Ukrainian Front under the command of Marshal Fyodor Tolbukhin liberated the city.

Following the end of the existence of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia and Ukraine entered into negotiations over Sevastopol. During the early twenty-first century the city is a special region within Ukraine, not under the government of Crimea, and the Russian and Ukrainian navies share the naval base.

See also: black sea fleet; crimea; crimean war; ukraine and ukrainians; white army


Curtiss, John Shelton. (1979). Russia's Crimean War. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Tolstoy, Leo. (1961). Sebastopol. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Jacob W. Kipp


views updated May 11 2018


SEVASTOPOL , city in Crimea, Ukraine. Jews lived there in the Greek period when the city was called Khersones. Shortly after its foundation in 1784, Jews began to settle in Sevastopol, many of them from Galicia. They engaged in commerce and crafts and some acted as purveyors to the local garrison. The community was severely struck by a plague which broke out in the town in 1825. The development of the community was brought to a sudden halt as a result of the government's decision in 1829 to prohibit residence in the town, which had become the chief Russian naval base on the Black Sea, to all Jews, as constituting a danger to security, with the exception of those who served in the army. Jews already living there were ordered to leave the town within two years, and even temporary residence or visits were restricted. The order did not apply to the *Karaites. The local authorities unsuccessfully attempted to have the order rescinded, pointing out the harm which would be caused to the Jews themselves and to the town generally. The expulsion was halted for three years, after which Sevastopol was closed to Jews. In 1842, even a temporary stay by Jews in Sevastopol was limited to one month. During the Crimean War (1854–56) many Jews took part in the defense of Sevastopol and about 500 fell in battle. A monument was erected to their memory in the city in 1864. From 1859 various categories of Jews (merchants registered in the guilds, with their servants and clerks, and artisans) were authorized to live in Sevastopol; there was also some alleviation in the attitude toward visits and temporary residence of Jews in the town. Thus the Jewish settlement was renewed during the second half of the 19th century, and in 1880 numbered 400. In 1874 a "house of prayer for soldiers" was opened in Sevastopol, and in 1884 the construction of a synagogue was completed. Jews began to play an important role in the foreign trade which passed through the port, especially grain commerce. By 1897 3,910 Jews lived in Sevastopol (7.4% of the total population), including about 70 families of "Krimchaks" (Jews from Crimea itself). About 830 Karaites were also living in the city. In 1907 the authorities again began to expel Jews from various parts of Sevastopol, and by 1910 their numbers had decreased to 3,655. With the revolution of 1917 and abolition of all the anti-Jewish restrictions, many more Jews settled in Sevastopol. By 1926 their numbers reached 5,204 (7%). In 1939 they numbered 5,988 (5.5% of the total population).

Holocaust and Contemporary Periods

Sevastopol was occupied by the Germans on July 12, 1941. They soon collected 4,200 Jews who remained in the city and from its environs, and they murdered them in ditches outside the town and in gas vans. A small synagogue and Jewish cemetery were maintained in the late 1960s.


M.I. Mysh, Rukovodstvo k russkomu zakonodatelstvu o yevreyakh (1890); D. Polonski, Istoricheskiy ocherk sevastopolskoy yevreyskoy obshchiny (1909).

[Yehuda Slutsky]


views updated Jun 08 2018

Sevastopol (Sebastopol) Black Sea port on the sw of the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine. Founded in 1783 by Catherine II, it was fortified in 1804. Sevastopol became home to the Russian Black Sea fleet and was the major strategic objective of the Crimean War, besieged from October 1854 to September 1855. The Russians sank their own fleet to block the harbour entrance, and inflicted heavy Allied casualties before evacuating the city. The fortifications were destroyed, only to be raised again after 1871. By 1890, the city was again a functioning naval base. During World War 2 the German army besieged Sevastopol for eight months before it capitulated in July 1942. It was recaptured in 1944, and again reconstructed. In 1995 Ukraine agreed to allow the Russian fleet to maintain its Sevastopol base in return for Ukrainian ownership of 19% of the fleet. Pop. (1996) 365,000.