Olyka Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Moldova
Region
None
District
Kivertsi
Settlement
Olyka
Site address
Olyka Jewish Cemetery
GPS coordinates
50.71623, 25.79925
Perimeter length
586 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Yes
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over
General site condition
Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over. The cemetery is currently used for agriculture. A construction of an ohel-like building is in progress.
Number of existing gravestones
No tombstones preserved
Date of oldest tombstone
Date of newest tombstone
Urgency of erecting a fence
Low
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys

Historical overview

The cemetery in Olyka appears on Russian maps from the mid-19th century. The exact date of the cemetery’s foundation is unknown. Presumably, it was established in the 18th century. On 3 July, 1941, some Olyka Jews were shot at this cemetery. The cemetery was demolished during WWII by the Nazis, who used the tombstones for road construction in the town centre. According to residents, remnants of cemetery were still present till as late as 1966, while it was then finally demolished in 1967 under Soviet rule. 0.5 hectares of the site as well as recently-recovered piece of matzevah are said to be allocated for construction of a memorial chapel, presumably ohel by Jewish community representatives. No contact with them was established.

Jews settled in Olyka in the mid-16th century, and are first mentioned in 1577. Many of the Olyka Jews and those of the surrounding villages managed to survive during the Khmelnitsky uprising of 1648, hiding in the local fortress. During the 17th century, the Jewish community, considered as one of the largest in Volyn’, gained their independence. Fires in the first half of 18th century led to the decrease of the Jewish population by 75%, to 547 people. In 1897, it had increased to 2,606 individuals (62% of the total population). By 1847, the town included two synagogues and the Jewish cemetery. The Hasidic dynasty of Hirsh Leib Landau was founded in Olyka. By the first half of the 20th century, nine synagogues were operating here, and the town housed a Jewish hospital. WWI and its aftermath, which included attacks by the Cossacks, invasion by Russian troops, and pillaging by local gangs, debilitated the local community. At the same time, many Jews of the town followed diverse Zionist organisations after the 1917 Revolution. In 1921, in which the Jewish population numbered 2,086, a Jewish cooperative bank started functioning, and a Hebrew school was established. In the 1920s and 1930s, a Yeshiva department was opened By 1941, the number of Jews living in Olyka was estimated to be around 2,500. The Wehrmacht occupied the town on June 27, 1941. On March 13, 1942, the ghetto was set up, imprisoning also Jews from the town’s outskirts. It was liquidated in late July 1942. During the Nazi occupation, 5,220 Jews were murdered in the region of Olyka. Three monuments were installed on the sites of mass shootings in 1967, 1990 and 2005.