MELITOPOL

MELITOPOL, city in Zaporozhe district, Ukraine. Jews started to settle in Melitopol when it was proclaimed a town in 1842. In 1886 there were 2,021 Jews, and in 1897 6,563 Jews and 454 karaites in Melitopol (45.7% of the total population). At the turn of the 19th century, Melitopol turned into an important city of metallurgical industries. Part of them, as well as other industries, belonged to Jews, and many Jewish workers were employed in them. On April 19, 1905, a mob attacked Jewish houses, but a Jewish self-defense group of 300 Jewish and Christian youngsters managed to minimize the pogrom; 15 were wounded and 45 shops (Jewish and Christian) were robbed. In 1910 Melitopol had a talmud torah and two private schools for boys and two for girls. joseph trumpeldor was active in the town and the first ḥaluẓim he organized left from there for Palestine. During World War I 2,043 refugees arrived in Melitopol, and were helped by a local aid committee. By 1926 the Jewish population had risen to 8,583 (33.6% of the total), then dropped to 6,040 (8% of the total population). In the 1920s there was a Yiddish school with 63 pupils, which was probably closed later in the 1930s. The ex-bourgeoisie who were denied state rights tried to learn trades and join artisan cooperatives, or went to farm in Birobidzhan or to established kolkhozes in the vicinity of the town. In 1938–40 a clandestine yeshivah operated, but when it was discovered, it moved to Kutaisi (Georgia). Melitopol was occupied by the Germans on October 5, 1941. On October 8 the Jews, about 1,800 families, were concentrated in a ghetto in the flourmill. Intermarried Jews and children from mixed marriage were freed. On October 10 and 15, the Sonderkommando 10a murdered 75 Jewish prisoners of war, and on October 11, 3,000 local Jews. The killings of Jews continued for a year, and on October 9, 1942, the Jewish spouses and children of mixed marriages were brutally killed. About 8,000 Jews, including those from nearby towns, and a few hundred Karaites were murdered. Melitopol was liberated on October 23, 1943. There were 2,500 Jews in 1959, and 1,800 in 1979. There was no synagogue. Most remaining Jews left in the 1990s. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Voskhod, nos. 17, 18, 19 (1905); Dubnow, Hist. Russ., 3 (1920), 115. (Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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