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Coat of Arms
Ternopil Oblast

Chortkiv (Ukrainian: Чортків, Polish: Czortków) is a city in the Ternopil oblast (province) in western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Chortkiv Raion (district). Population: 29,057 (2001). Located on the Seret River, in the northern part of Galician Podilia and is situated in the historic region of Galicia.


History and industries

Panoramic view of Chortkiv

The first historical mention of Chortkiv dates to 1522, when Polish king Sigismund I the Old granted ownership order for Jerzy Czortkowski over this town and allowed him to name it Czortków (Chortkiv) after himself. The town was also given Magdeburg Law privileges then. Chortkiv declined in the second half of the 17th century, during the Polish-Turkish Wars when the town was taken over by Ottoman Empire (1673-1683). It was part of short lived Turkish province (Eyalet) Podolya with capital in Kamianets-Podilskyi which existed in years 1672-1699.

After First Partition of Poland Chortkiv came under Austrian rule (1772-1918) and was the center of the Chortkiv Bezirk; later it became a county center. On 8 June 1919 the Ukrainian Galician Army broke for couple months through the Polish front at Chortkiv and began the Chortkiv offensive. Soon afterwards, the town was seized by the Poles and remained part of the Tarnopol Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic until September 1939.

In 1931 the town had 19,000 inhabitants, 22.8 percent of whom were Ukrainians (Greek Catholics), 46.4 percent Poles (Roman Catholics), and 30 percent Jews. Chortkiv was an important garrison of the Polish Border Defence Corps Brigade "Podole", whose commandant, from 1935 to 1938, was General Stefan Rowecki.

Soviet and Nazi invasions

The town was occupied by the Soviet Union from September 17 (see: Polish September Campaign), 1939, until June 1941. Its Polish inhabitants, particularly students of the local high school, organized in early 1940 a failed uprising, which was the first Polish uprising during World War Two.

From 1941-1944 it was occupied by Nazi Germany. After the defeat of the Nazis by the Red Army in 1944 it returned to Soviet control until in 1991 it became part of independent Ukraine. Chortkiv is an administrative, commercial, and small-scale manufacturing center. Today it has some industry: food-processing, garment making, and railway maintenance. Among its architectural monuments are a fortress built in the 16th and 17th centuries and wooden churches of the 17th and 18th centuries. There is also a historical museum.

Jewish history and the Holocaust

The Hasidic Synagogue in Chortkov (Chortkiv)

Chortkiv was the home of many Hasidic Jews. The first Hasidic Rebbe of Chortkov was Rabbi Dovid Moshe Friedman, a son of Rabbi Yisroel Friedman (the Rizhiner Rebbe). Rabbi Dovid Moshe's son was Rabbi Yisroel Friedman. Rabbi Yisroel ran his Hasidic court with the concept of Hod ShebaTiferes ("Majesty in Glory"; in Kabbalistic terms). He died in 1934. After Rabbi Yisroel; his sons, Rabbi Nochum Dov Friedman and Rabbi Dov Ber Friedman, served as Rebbes. Rabbi Dov Ber died in 1936. Rabbi Nochum fled to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1939, and died in Jerusalem in 1946. His son Rabbi Shlomo Friedman led the Chortkover Hasidim until his death in Tel Aviv in 1959.

The palatial home of the Rebbe of Chortkov (Chortkiv)

It was a notable shtetl and had a significant number of Jews residing there prior to the Holocaust. On August 26, 1942 at 2:30 am in the morning the German Schutzpolizei started driving Chortkiv's Jews out of their houses, split them in groups of 120, packed them into freight cars and deported 2000 local Jews to the Belzec death camp. Five hundred Jewish sick and children were murdered on the spot.

During this first Aktion, the detained Jews were divided into groups and to each of them a member of the Judenrat and two Jewish policemen were appointed to be responsible for the respective group. Although both the Judenrat and the Jewish police were personally spared in the first Aktion, nevertheless, some of their relatives were among those sent to the death-camp in Belzec. At the "registration area" near the bazaar the Germans made a selection and exempted about two hundred Jews who were needed to carry out their indispensable work.

After the first "Aktion" the ghetto was reduced. Szkolna and Podolska Streets were excluded and the ghetto comprised only the streets near the river Seret like Skladowa and Rzeznicka.

Famous people

  • Jerzy Czortkowski - founder of Czortków (Chortkiv)
  • Leopold Levytskyy (1906-1973) - Ukrainian painter, lived here
  • Kateryna Rubchakova (1881-1919) - Ukrainian actress and singer (lyrical soprano), born here
  • Karl Emil Franzos (1848-1904) - lived there
  • Zvi Hirsch Horowitz - Rabbi of Chortkiv, and father of:
St. Stanislav Church in Chortkiv

See also

External links

Coordinates: 49°01′N 25°48′E / 49.017°N 25.8°E / 49.017; 25.8



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