Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine


Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine


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Delatyn - guidebook

Ukr. Делятин, Yid. דעלאַטין

Delatyn - guidebook

Ten cones of salt

The first written mention of Delatyn dates from 1370. In 1578, Delatyn was a town governed according to the Magdeburg law. In the 16th century, a salt mine was opened near the city, which in the future became the basis for economic development of Delatyn. Not coincidentally, the modern coat of arms of the city depicts 10 cones of salt. Delatyn saltworks began operating on a larger scale in the 19th century and the production of salt was gradually industrialised. In 1870, there was a steam engine and two pumps that extracted 155 quintals of salt a day. The presence of the salt encouraged the establishment of health resorts in Delatyn. Mineral springs were used to treat rheumatism (salt baths) and respiratory diseases (salt inhalations).

The Jews of Delatyn

The first mentions of the Jews in Delatyn date back to 1767. 87 Jews lived in the city at that time. They were traders and craftsmen. In the 18th century, many Jews in the Delatyn area were followers of Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676); there is even a legend claiming that the alleged messiah personally visited the nearby town of Kolomyia. In the 18th century, Delatyn became the property of Count Potocki, who created better opportunities for the economic development for the Jewish community.

 In the 19th century, Delatyn was a typical Galician shtetl. Over the years 1869–1871, the sawmill and the mill on the Peremyska River in Delatyn were leased by a Jewish entrepreneur М. Zucher, аnd in 1872–1874, by Т. Fishel. In 1912, another mill belonged to Ch. Bloch. We also know the names of the owners of farms from the early 20th century: Dr Janina Bloch and Kopel Seinfeld, who produced and sold grain. At the beginning of the 20th century, a bakery in Delatyn was owned by Munio Klau and Samuel Zauderer. In 1929, 4 sawmills were owned by the Jewish families: Bloch, Fogel, Jager, Friedfertig and Klein. The owners of the mill at the beginning of the 20th century were Selig and Mendel the Bailiff. In the 1930s, the Delatyn power plant belonged to Shlomo Bernstein. In 1862, Solomon Knopf worked as a doctor in Delatyn, while Rivka Grubber and Rivka Merl worked as midwives. In the 1930s, K. Belstein worked as a doctor in the local health resort.

There were 2 wooden synagogues in the town, one of them at the market square (both buildings were destroyed during the German occupation). Among the rabbis for the Delatyn community in the 19th century, we can mention the following: Naftali Hersh Teomim, Naftali Ehrlich, Azriel Landau, and at the beginning of the 20th century (approx. 1910) – Yaakov Hurwitz. In 1895–1910, there was a Jewish school; since 1896, it was directed by Chaim Bardach. In 1914, the Jewish school employed such teachers as: А. Friedhaber, Е. Schehtel, М. Berlas, Ch. Schehter, and М. Schulbaum.

During World War I, many residents of Delatyn fought in the Austro-Hungarian army. The Russian army first occupied Delatyn on 19 October 1914. Later, the city passed several times from hand to hand. In 1916, after the offensive of the Russian troops (the so-called Brusilov offensive), the banks of the Prut River remained the front line for a long time. During the war, 80% of the urban structures (mostly wooden) were destroyed.

Chaim Bloch (1881–1973) was a descendant of a well-known family of Jewish rabbis and scholars of Delatyn and Nadvirna, and a descendant of the founder of Hasidism Baal Shem Tov. The Rabbi was a military chaplain, publicist, and writer. He studied in a yeshiva. Before World War I, he was an entrepreneur in Delatyn. After the beginning of the Russian occupation, he moved with his wife and children to Vienna. Since 1915, he served in the Austro-Hungarian army and was a chaplain of the Jewish prisoners of war. During the war, he wrote Erinnerungen aus einem Kriegsgefangenenlager (Ger. Memories from the POW Camp). In 1939, he immigrated to New York City. A book by Chaim Bloch Der Prager Golem: Von seiner "Geburt" bis zu seinem "Tod" (Ger. The Prague Golem: from "Birth" to "Death") (1920) referred to the legend of the Golem – a human-like being created by Kabbalists in order to help the Jewish community and defend it against accusations.

The prominent residents

During the interwar period, the town maintained a health resort status. In Delatyn lived among others: lawyers Ya'akov Anderman, Wolf Bloch, Adolf Friedhaber, Isaac Meir, notary Bernard Grosman, officials Chmiel Bader and Izydor Barlstein. Other notable residents of the town include teachers David Driemer and Friede Goltz, merchant Salomon Britman, bank owner Abba Bloch, restaurant owners Samuel Bitman and Yehuda Glasser, owner of a café Ch. Bitner, owners of a hardware store Aron Abuś and Samuel Weinryb. Among the local Jews were representatives of many crafts – tailors, carpenters, stonecutters and butchers.

In the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, most Jews in Delatyn were Orthodox. Among the local Hasidim, the most numerous were the followers of tzadiks from Zhydachiv, Sadhora and Vyzhnica. Among the Jews of the younger generation there were many supporters of Zionism. The Jewish organizations and political parties were active in the city, such as: "Poale Zion" and the youth branch of "Hashomer Hatzair".

Strolling through the contemporary Delatyn, it is worth visiting a brick house funded by the famous Jewish patron, Baron М. Hirsch. The building was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, according to a design by architect Leon Borgenischt from Nadvirna. In 1932, the building was renovated thanks to the efforts of the Jewish cultural and educational organization "Tarbut". The house has a library, a reading room, a club room and a director's apartment.

World War II and the Holocaust

In September 1939, Delatyn was on the way of the Polish government officials fleeing from the Germans to Romania. At the end of September, the Red Army occupied the town and began deportations to Siberia and Kazakhstan. With the invasion of the Hungarian and German troops in June and July 1941, began the most tragic period in the history of the Jewish community of the city. In July 1941, the Judenrat was set up in the town. On 16 October 1941, the Nazis shot 1.9 thousand Jews. At night, the Gestapo surrounded the town and began to check the documents of the inhabitants. The German authorities announced the registration of Jews under the guise of giving them land. When all the Jews were gathered they were taken to a woodworking factory. Selection was made, as a result of which young people were left as workforce, while the older were taken to Olchoviec and shot. Some Jews were shot in Stanislaviv during the second action of this kind. As a result of the third action, 200 Jews from Tatarov were murdered in Delatyn. The fourth action took place in March 1942. 456 Jews were shot: first, the local Jews were arrested (almost 200 people), then the Jews from the neighbouring villages and towns were brought to the city. They were all taken to the Jewish cemetery and murdered. 200 Jews from Delatyn and the surrounding area were deported to the Belzec death camp at the end of 1942.

The fifth action was carried out in November and December 1943. The Gestapo and soldiers of the Vlasov army surrounded Delatyn at night and started the shelling. People who ran in panic into the street were murdered. The Nazis gathered all the Jews in the town centre and cruelly abused them. Both alive and dead Jews were loaded into trucks and taken to the Olchoviec forest. 712 Jews and 95 Ukrainians were murdered. At the end of 1943, the city was proclaimed "free of Jews". The Nazis confiscated and robbed Jewish estates. In total, in 1941–1943, over three thousand Jews were murdered in the Delatyn area.

In March 1944, the Soviet army occupied Delatyn, but on April 19 the Nazis reclaimed the city. Eventually, the Soviet rule was reinstated on 26 July 1944.

In the Olchoviec forest (northern part of the city) there is a collective grave of the inhabitants of Delatyn shot in 1941–1943, mostly of Jewish origin. There is also a monument commemorating the victims, with an inscription in three languages.

The cemetery

The last place with traces of the Jewish community of Delatyn is the cemetery. Over 100 matzevahs have survived the war. During the Soviet times, some of them were used to build roads and the cemetery was not fenced. Today, the cemetery is fenced, some matzevahs have been restored and a commemorative plaque has been placed on the gateway.


Today, there are two Landmanschafts of the Jews from Delatyn – one in New York and one in Israel. At the beginning of the 1990s, a Dutch film director Willi Lindwer visited the town along with his father, Berl Nuchim, whose family came from Delatyn and died there during the Holocaust. His film Return to my shtetl Delatyn tells the story of a family and of the Jewish community. Among the characters of the film there is Anna Josypczuk – a Jewish woman who before the war was married to a Ukrainian and adopted Christianity, so she managed to survive the Nazi occupation. After the war, she became the Mayor of Delatyn.

The contemporary Delatyn has 8 thousand residents and is situated in the mountains, in the valley of the Prut River, 10 km from the famous health resort in Yaremche. The highest mountain in the area is VaVtorov (1059 m). In the independent Ukraine, Delatyn has become one of the centres of traditional Hutsul folk crafts.

Worth seeing

  • Jewish cemetery (17th century), Nezaleznosti

  • Orthodox Church of the Birth of Mother of God (1620), Kovpaka 29

  • Church of St. Francis (1865), 16 Lypnia

  • City Hall

  • Literary Museum of Marco Cheremshyna: housed in a villa built in the so-called. "Zakopane style", where the writer lived in the years 1908–1912

  • The Local History Museum of Delatyn, 16 Lypnia 247

In the vicinity

Yaremche (8 km): waterfalls "Probiy","Little Wife","Girls' Tears"; fair of souvenirs; Museum of the Metropolitan Archbishop Andrej Sheptytsky; Museum of Ethnography and Ecology of the Carpathians; mineral water springs

Nadvirna (12 km): Pniowski Castle (16th century); Orthodox Church of St. Vladimir; ruins of the citadel in the city park (19th century)

Solotvyn (35 km): Jewish cemetery (18th century)

Kolomyia (37 km): active synagogue (1848); city hall (19th century); wooden Orthodox Church of the Annunciation of Mother of God (16th century); Folk Art Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya


Author: Volodymyr Bak