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December 13: Fighting Back in Vladimir-Volynski

December 13, 2014

7302_125The remnants of the Jewish community of Vladimir-Volynski (aka Ludmir) in the northwestern Ukraine were killed by the SS on this date in 1942, and many of those who tried to escape were killed by Ukrainian peasants or members of the Polish underground. Some thirty young armed Jews had gathered in a bunker to fight the final Aktion liquidating the ghetto starting in September, but were discovered by the Nazis and killed or captured in a firefight. By then, of the 25,000 Jews living in the city at the start of the war, many of them refugees from the Nazi invasion of Poland, only 1,500 were left. German troops had occupied Ludmir on June 25, 1941 and began shooting 200–600 Jews each month until October. The survivors were ghettoized by April, 1942, and by December 13th they had all been murdered. One Judenrat leader, a lawyer named Weiler, refused to hand over Jewish victims to the Germans and committed suicide together with his family. When the town was captured by the Soviet army in July, 1944, some 140 Jews returned, but most later emigrated to Israel and elsewhere. In 1989, a memorial was erected at a site where 18,000 Jews had been murdered. A society of Jewish residents of Vladimir-Volynski still exists in Israel.

“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.” —