Kremenchuk, Ukraine 69 years after liberation

Kremenchuk, or Кременчук (Russian) Кременчуг (Ukrainian) is an industrial town in central Ukraine, in the Poltava administrative region along the banks of Ukraine’s famous Dnieper River. Most of the photos for this report, unless otherwise noted, are from: http://www.kremenchuk.org/eng.

Approaching Kremenchuk, Ukraine.

The settlement of Kremenchuk was founded in 1571 and later the Kremenchuk fortress was built by French military engineer Guillaume Levasser de Boplan in 1638. The town quickly became an important city for transportation of goods from Russia to other parts of Europe.

The Kremenchuk Kryukov Railway wagon factory is a major job provider today.

Russian armies and the Navy was based here during the Russian-Turkish war (1787-1791) as local shipbuilders built the fleet for Russia’s Black Sea flotilla. In 1802 Kremenchuk was made a part of the Poltava oblast. Today railway cars and automobiles are manufactured in Kremenchuk as well as one of the largest truck factories in Europe to produce trucks for Russian auto maker KrAZ.

The city is served by passenger train service and locally by trams, buses and passenger vans called “Marshrutki” because they run regular routes.

The city suffered during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Almost 90% of the city’s buildings were destroyed and thousands died, including most of the Jewish population. War records held in the Russian Extraordinary State Commission archives in Moscow detail how the destruction of the Jewish population was a primary goal of Nazi SS units occupying Kremenchuk.

This year marks the 69th anniversary of liberation on 29 September 1943.

Prior to the war almost 30,000 Jewish persons, about 47% of the total population, lived in the city. After the war there were approximately 8,000 Jewish survivors. The Germans made a point of destroying the city’s synagogues, leaving only the historic “Great” synagogue standing but stripped and the roof blown off.

Many of the 235,000 city residents live in post war apartments since most buildings were destroyed in the war.

This past January (2012) the Jewish community of Kremenchug was forced to again deal with anti-Semitism after a Molotov cocktail ignited a fire and damaged the synagogue exterior in the early morning hours of the New Year. The attack took place less than a month after the dedication of a new Torah scroll. Two months prior a similar attempted firebombing failed to fully ignite and spared the synagogue of damages.

Autumn is the perfect time to visit Kremenchuk.

(Photos for this report unless otherwise noted are from: http://www.kremenchuk.org/eng)

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5 thoughts on “Kremenchuk, Ukraine 69 years after liberation

  1. What a shame that hoodlums attack the synagogue! I hope the Orthodox clergy in the city do not play a role in fermenting anti-Jewish attacks, as this has often happened in the past. Why will some people not let the Jews of Kremenchuk live in peace? One would think that the city’s Orthodox Christians would remember that their Jewish neighbors suffered special targeting during the Nazi occupation of the town, and that, therefore, recalling their own sufferings at the hands of the Nazis, they would have a sense of empathy for their Jewish neighbors today, many of whom lost their entire families in the Holocaust.

    It amazes me that there exist some neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine and Russia today, when these countries suffered so many horrors at the hands of the invading German army!

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    1. We agree with your view and pray also that Orthodox Christians lead in reconciliation, not destruction.

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