Vladimir Volynski

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VLADIMIR VOLYNSKI (formerly Lodomira , Pol. Wlodzimierz ; in Jewish sources: Lodmer, Ladmir , or Ludmir ), city in Volhynia district, Ukraine. Jews from *Kiev, *Khazaria, and other eastern communities settled in the city in the 12th century. They established an important station there on the trade route between eastern and western Europe, which was subsequently visited by Jewish merchants from *Ashkenaz. The Jewish community was destroyed by Tatars in the 1240s but it was renewed on a small scale in the early 15th century under Grand Duke Witold of Lithuania. An organized community was founded in the early 16th century and it developed rapidly after the Polish annexation of *Volhynia (1569).

In the charter of privileges given to the city in 1570 by King Sigismund ii Augustus, the Jews were granted equal rights with gentile citizens. During the 16th century the Jews of Vladimir Volynski traded at the fairs in Lublin, Poznan, and Cracow, where they sold furs, woolen cloth, and wax. The richer Jews engaged in estate-leasing and tax-farming. From the middle of the 16th century several famous rabbis lived in Vladimir Volynski, e.g., *Isaac b. Bezalel, who served from 1547 to 1570, Menahem Isaiah b. Isaac (known as Menahem-Mendel R. Avigdors; 1591), who later became rabbi of Cracow (d. 1599), and the talmudist *Isaac ben Samuel ha-Levi (1580–1646), who was born in Vladimir Volynski. The outstanding talmudist and author, Yom-Tov Lipmann *Heller, was rabbi of the community from 1634 to 1643.

The community suffered greatly during the *Chmielnicki massacres (1648–49) in which many Jews were murdered. After repeated attacks in 1653 and 1658, the heads of the community were forced to borrow large sums to save the Jews from impoverishment. Their economic situation improved in the late 17th century. In 1700 Augustus ii awarded Fishel Lewkowicz of Vladimir Volynski the title of "royal agent and purveyor and official secretary for the Council of the Four Lands." In 1765 1,327 Jews paid the poll tax.

The economic crisis which befell the Polish kingdom in its last years affected the Jewish population in Vladimir Volynski. By 1784 there were only 340 Jews in the city. In 1795 it was annexed by Russia. In the 19th century the Jewish population increased, numbering 3,930 in 1847 and 5,854 (66% of the total) in 1897. They traded in grain and lumber, and engaged in shopkeeping, tailoring, hatmaking, and shoemaking. The hasidic movement became influential in the community, especially under the direction of Moses Solomon Karliner and the Maid of *Ludomir.

There were 5,917 Jews there in 1921 comprising 51% of the population, and by 1931, 10,665 (44%). In 1926, 84% of the businesses were in Jewish hands. There were *Tarbut, *Beth Jacob, and Yavneh schools. The Jews of Vladimir Volynski organized *self-defense against the attacks of May 1923, and in the 1930s they protested vigorously against the antisemitic boycott. In the city council elections of 1929, 12 of the 24 seats were won by Jews.

[Arthur Cygielman]

Holocaust Period

When the war broke out between Germany and Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, thousands of Jews from western Poland sought refuge in the city, bringing the number of Jews in the city to 25,000. When the city passed to Soviet rule (1939–41), a unique effort was made by the Jews of the city to guarantee a Hebrew education for the children. The Tarbut leaders successfully acquired the local authorities agreement to run a Hebrew language school, on condition that all religious studies be removed from the program. However, the school only functioned for two months for in November 1939 the regional Soviet authorities in Rovno intervened and the language of instruction became Yiddish. In the summer of 1940 many Zionist leaders and refugees were exiled to the Soviet interior. The Germans entered on June 25, 1941. On July 5, 150 Jews were rounded up by the Germans and Ukrainians and murdered in the prison courtyard. A *Judenrat was established in 1941, headed by Rabbi Morgenstern. When he died two months later, his post was filled by a lawyer, Weiler. Weiler refused to hand over the victims to the Germans and committed suicide together with his family. In August–December 1941 the Germans continued to murder the Jews, disposing of their victims in mass graves in the prison courtyard. On Feb. 27, 1942, 250 Jews were taken for forced labor to the Kiev area. On April 13, 1942 a ghetto was set up in two sections: one for skilled craftsmen, nicknamed by the Jews "the ghetto of life", and a second ghetto for the non-productive, called the "ghetto of the dead." They contained altogether about 22,000 Jews. In the summer of 1942 some young people made attempts to contact the partisans operating in the vicinity. On Sept. 1, 1942, an Aktion ("action") began, lasting two weeks, in which 18,000 Jews were murdered. Four thousand Jews were killed in the prison courtyard and 14,000 in pits prepared in the Piatydni area. Following this Aktion, the area of the ghetto, now reduced in size, contained only 4,000 persons. Leib Kudish, who collaborated fully with the Germans, was placed at the head of the Judenrat. On Nov. 13, 1942, another Aktion began, lasting several weeks, following which only 1,500 Jews were left alive and registered while a group of "illegals" continued to exist. During the last Aktion an armed group of young Jews took up a fortified position in a bunker near Cygielnia, but they were discovered by the Germans, and 13 fell in the fight. In 1943 the Germans continued in their hunt-down of "illegals" i.e., those who did not possess work permits. The victims were shot in prison. On Dec. 13, 1943, the last of the Jewish community was liquidated, and many of those who tried to escape were killed by Ukrainian peasants or members of the Polish underground Armia Krajowa. The city was freed from the Germans on July 22, 1944, at which time only a few dozen Jews were found alive. A society of former residents of the city functions in Israel.


Halpern, Pinkas, index; N.N. Hannover, Yeven Meẓulah (1966), 65, 66; R. Mahler, Yidn in Amolikn Poyln in Likht fun Tsifern (1958), index; E. Ringelblum, in: Miesięcznik żydowski, no. 11/12 (1933), 233; idem, Projekty i proby przewarstwowienia żydow w epoce stanislawowskiej (1934), 35–36; B. Mark, Di Geshikhte fun Yidn in Poyln (1957), index; M. Tikhomirov, Drevniye russkiye goroda (1946), index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach xix i xx (1930), 81, 82, 84, 88; I. Schiper, Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index; H.H. Ben Sasson, Hagut ve-Hanhagah (1959), 56, 136, 138, 163, 178–9.

[Aharon Weiss]