In 1945 and 1946, the Israeli Hebrew publication Yalkut Vohlin [Vohlin Anthology] printed two articles by Israel Savouray, describing the Ukrainian village Kresilov. An English translation of these articles appears below.
Surnames in Articles
Buskis, Gutman, Hellman, Himmelfarb, Kagan, Kaufman, Muberman, Pototsky, Savouray.
Kresilov was a typical little village similar to all the
villages in the “Pale of Settlement. If not for our dreadful
disaster, if these precious villages had not been wiped off the
face of the earth, there would be no special reason to recall this
village and to commemorate it.
Kresilov, with its six hundred people, is located on the
Slutch River. Two generations ago, it was famous for its
tanneries. It had twenty—four, which were, of course, primitive.
The name Kresilov was a designation for the quality of the
leather — “Kresilov leather.” Some of the tanners had warehouses
for the sale of their products in Charkov, Kiev and Odessa. In
the course of time, as leather of better quality appeared in the
marketplace, Kresilov leather couldn’t meet the competition and
leather production in the village atrophied. However, even in our
generation there were a few tanneries, as well as flour mills. It
should be noted that most of the employees in the above mentioned
enterprises were Jews. Formerly, the hours for working extended
from immediately after the close of the Sabbath on Saturday night,
with the recital of the Havdalah prayer, until immediately prior to
the beginning of the next Sabbath on late Friday afternoon, with the
beginning of the Sabbath Eve prayers. They would labor also on
Saturday nights, as their remuneration was based on piece work and
the laborer was always eager for more work.
There was one other industry in Kresilov, not by any means
primitive. This was a large sugar factory which was the property of
the Polish Princess or Nikovska. However, the Jews had no right of
entry to it. Other than some purchases in the Jewish stores, the
factory had no impact on the livelihood of the community. The only
benefit that the Jews derived from the factory, was the road that
had been paved forty years ago, thanks to the factory, which
connected the village to Proskurov.
It is strange, that although the houses of the managers [all
Poles] and the workers, were separated from the homes of the Jews
and were all concentrated around the factory, their church and the
home of the priest were built, precisely, among the houses of the
Kresilov was a station on the line from Korosten to Komenitz-
Podolsk, of the Podolian Railroad. Geographically, it is located
at the edge of Vohlin, on the border of Podolia, about thirty
kilometers [nineteen miles] from Podolian Proskurov, which became
famous as a result of suffering the brutal pogrom in the days of
Petlyura. Neighboring settlements include: Starokonstantinov,
[the regional city] Kuzmin, Kulchin, Kupel, Tchan [Teofipol],
Chorny—Ostrov, Nikolayev-Podolsk and others. All these villages
were saturated with religious Judaism, traditional and cultural.
The Hebrew teachers, who influenced the cultural situation in
the village immensely, included Yom Toy Heliman, currently an
instructor in the Jerusalem Teachers Institute and Yehoshua Gutman,
now teaching in the Haifa Reali High School. In neighboring
Nikolayev—Podolsk. Torah was disseminated by Yechezkel Kaufman, now
a famous author in Israel. These three, who were alumni of the
noted Yeshiva in Odessa, also placed a number of their colleagues as
Hebrew teachers in neighboring villages.
The village had a very active Hebrew and Zionist movement: a
Zionist Committee; performances by amateur groups; special public
prayer services on Simchat Torah [Festival of Rejoicing with the
Torah] in the headquarters of the Zionist Committee and in most
synagogues, with the money raised allocated to the National Funds,
and also a large library and clubs for the study of Hebrew. Mention
should be made here of the martyred Malka Leah Gutman, of blessed
memory, the moving spirit of the Kresilov Zionist movement, who was
murdered in 1919 in the prime of her life, while trying to protect
her mother and brother, during the pogrom in the village by the
Petlyura haidamacks [bands of rebellious rioting peasants].
Kresilov was also a Torah community with its synagogues boasting
many scholars from whom the voice of Torah was heard. Even during
the prayer services Torah thoughts were debated. Groups were
maintained for the regular study of Talmud, Mishnayot and Ein Yaakov,
and occasionally there were celebrations to mark completion of the
study of a tractate, which drew many participants.
[Translators note: Mishnayot is the plural of Mishna, the
summary and sum total of the Oral Law as expounded by the Sages,
called Tannaim, from the beginning of the first century C.E. until
approximately 210 C.E. The Gemara contains the interpretations and
commentaries on the Mishna by the Rabbis called Amorairn, who were
active in the period following the Tannaim, from the beginning of
the third century until about 500 C.E. The Mishna and Gemara
together constitute the Talmud. While the Gemara includes both
Halacha (law and jurisprudence) and Agada (homiletics), Ein Yaakov
is a collection only of homiletical items in the Gemara. The entire
Talmud is divided into six divisions and these into individual
The village had quite a number of Chassidim, most followers of
the Chassidic Rabbis of Boyan, Sadagura, Zinkov and others. At the
end of the nineteenth century Rabbi Alter Buskis, of blessed memory
[known as Reb Alter Kresilover] was the Rabbi of the village. He
was followed by his son.
[Translators note: Chassidism is the movement which was
inspired by the personality, teachings and activity of Rabbi Israel
son of Eliezer (c.1700—1760) known as the Baal Shem Toy (Master of
the Good Name). While acknowledging the importance of Torah study,
the Chassidim taught that it is through the heart that one can come
closer to G—D. This desideratum, they stressed, should be sought,
primarily, by fervent prayer and joyful living. A central role was
assigned to the Chassidic Rabbi, the Tzadik, many of whom were
conceived as possessing miraculous gifts.]
Several miles from Kresilov is the little village Antonin,
site of the former estate and home of Count Pototsky. According to
the older people, his palace had a golden gate and several Jews
from the village had business connections with the estate, thereby
earning their livelihood.
The village suffered severely from the regiments of Cossacks
and haidamacks who passed through several times and also camped
there, during the Ukrainian massacres of 1917—1919. Robbing the Jews
was a daily occurrence and several times there were “major operations”
which went hand in hand with murder, fifteen Jews being killed. In
every “major operation” our non—Jewish neighbors would follow in the
footsteps of the haidamacks, dragging sacks which they were filling
with everything of value in the homes and stores of the Jews. Talitot
[prayer shawls], satin caftans, silk dresses and even furniture, all
belonging to the Jews, could be found in the homes of the Gentiles.
Indeed, the Jews in their villages suffered from the attacks of
strangers. But what is this anguish in comparison to the total
destruction perpetrated by the debased Germans in our days? If, in
fact, not a single living Jew remains in Kresilov, may these few
lines serve as a modest memorial to a small holy community in
Vohlin, one among many which once existed and are no longer.
END OF KRESILOV IN SOVIET VOHLIN
With the onset of the occupation, the Nazis and their Ukrainian
helpers started ruthlessly oppressing the Jewish population of the
village and its surroundings. All the Jews in the area, numbering
eight thousand, were concentrated in the village. After savage
assaults and sadistic conduct, they were all taken out to be killed.
First, they were commanded to undress, following which they were
brutally shot and thrown into pits — the dead as well as the wounded
and still living; men, women and children. The murderers permitted
only a small number of Jewish craftsmen to remain alive, but after
five weeks, they too were shot.
Following the plunder of the Nazis, the Ukrainian neighbors
destroyed the Jewish homes and stole whatever possible. It was almost
impossible to flee from the village before the slaughter, as the
Nazis were scrupulous in their guard duty. Only ten young families
succeeded in escaping, dragging themselves to Asiatic Russia. When
the Germans were expelled by the Red army, some of these families
returned, sick and broken. They found Kresilov in ruins and
abandoned, its buildings burnt and demolished and without a single
Thus was Jewish Kresilov demolished!
In a letter from Kresilov, dated May 2, 1946, Yeshayahu Kagan
…I did not succeed in determining the exact date of the
passing of your father, of blessed memory according to the Gentile
neighbors, he passed away c1ose to Passover, 1942, as did my
mother, of blessed memory. I have, therefore, set 28 Adar as the
“We received the packages. Thanks. We paid duty for the clothes
but food is duty-free.
“We wish to inform you that Paula, the daughter of Devora
Himmelfarb, has been found in Kresilov and her brother Nyunya, in
Odessa. Similarly, Sotzia Muberman, is now a teacher, in Ashchabad.
“How can you help us? We do not have a Jewish cemetery, as the
previous one was destroyed by the Gentiles who converted it into a
vegetable garden. If, Heaven forfend, anyone from the few families
who have been collected here should die, we will be forced to bury
him in a ditch, because the Gentiles will not permit us to bury him
in their cemetery.
“It is not worthwhile to send money, tea, soup concentrates and
thread. We can use clothing, in good condition, some for ourselves
and some for sale, with the income utilized to establish a Jewish
cemetery in the village. It is also worthwhile to send cocoa and