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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Indura Cultural Heritage Card

Village Indura of Grodno district was transformed into an agrarian settlement in 2007. It is situated 25 km to the south from Grodno on the highway Grodno - Bolshaya Berisovitsa.

Belarus -- Indura -- 2014
Belarus -- Indura -- 2014 (Author: Filina, Natalya)

Historical and natural landscapeDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

On the territory of Grodno district Indurka river flows (a left tributary of Svisloch - Neman basin) its length is 20 km. As of 2006 population of the village was 1,525 people

Historical and cultural memorials: in the north-west of Indura there is a site of an ancient town (the 11th - the 13th centuries) as well as Blessed Trinity RC church (1815), St. Alexander Nevskiy Church (1881), a synagogue (1885), a Jewish cemetery and an Old Catholic cemetery.

Geographic coordinates: 53° 27'34.29"N, 23° 53'1.19"E.

Indura was the second center of Hasidism in Lithuania Rabbi Chaim Haikl ben Smuel (he died in 1787), follower of Maggid and rabbi Aharon the Great.  

HistoryDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

The origin of the name is related with Balts. They named the river flowing here as Indrupis (meaning "reed"). The word Indura originates from indre ("reed"). Later this word was a bit transformed by the Slaves.
There is a legend about origin of this village:
That was the period of Crusaders. There was a forepost of protecting the native land from invaders on the territory of the ancient settlement. The settlement was surrounded by a pale fence and a ditch with water. And near the settlement peasants were living. So a village was formed. In this fortress a troop of warriors with families was settled headed by a commandant who had a beautiful daughter. Her name was Inda. In the fortress there were wooden buildings for living and farming. In the center on the very top a church was situated. It was built of stone and had a high bell-tower performed in a defensive style and resembling Kolozha. Commandant's daughter was a bit strange. She often roamed around the fortress at night, climbed to the bell-tower and sometimes ran about neighboring meadows and forests. During one of summer nights when the evening almost met the dawn she was sitting on the bell-tower and waiting for the sun. With first rays of the sun she saw white shadows on a green meadow beyond the river. Those were shadows of Crusaders who weared white cloaks with black crosses on them.
Inda started to clang the bells informing everybody about the coming trouble. A troop of warriors was raised but forces were not equal. The Crusaders breached defenses and invaded the fortress. But the bells never stopped ringing. Enemies ran to the fortress but suddenly they all stood paralyzed. Skies as if opened up over the church and the God's Mother came down. She took a shawl from her shoulder and covered the church with it. The earth opened under the church and it slowly moved underground. Everybody stood still both inhabitants and the enemies. A day later the Crusaders went away never touching anybody.  So thanks to silly Inda (Inda-dura) the fortress and the village were saved. Everybody remembered Commandant's daughter for a long time and the village was named Indura.

People also say that if to put ear to the ground on this day at the top of the hill you may hear sounds of bells of the church which moved under the ground. And one more thing. One day a girl will be born in Indura. She will come to the mound and will see a red ribbon sticking out of the ground. If she pulls the ribbon the church will appear from under the ground and God's mother will cover this blessed ground with her shawl.
Some few years ago it was considered that Indura was founded (first mentioned in written sources) in 1542 when the wooden Blessed Trinity RC church was built on money of Yan Davoyna one of the first owners of the town (it was built during a period of 20 years). But several years ago local regional ethnographer Vladimir Kozyrev proved that Indura was mentioned yet in 1413.
In 1413 a Seim of the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania took place on the Western Bug River in Gorodnia Castle (up to date Lublin voivodeship, Poland). The Seim was attended by Vladimir Yagaylo (king of Poland) and Vitovt (the great prince of Lithuania). On the 2nd of October 1413 a decree of Gorodetskiy Seim was issued indicating unification of Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland. This decree was an extension (prolongation) of Krevo Union of 1385. The Decree of the Seim gave great privileges to feudal lords of Lithuania and Belarus. According to the decision of Gorodelskiy Seim devision into voivodeships and povets (districts) was applied in Great Duchy of Lithuania (as well as in Poland). Oshmian, Slonim, Volkovysk, Indura and Grodno were included to Trokskoye voivodeship. According to available documents all these settlements were defined as towns.
During the second part of the 16th - the 17th centuries Indura was owned by Kishki, Radivills, Patsy, Valovichy, Isakovskiye, Mlechniki.   In the 18th century it belonged to Oginskiye, Salaguby and Masalskiye. During the Nothern War 1700-1721 a battle of Russian troops against Sweden troops took place not far from Indura. And Sweden general Meyerfeld defeated Russian-Saxon troops.
Jews are mentioned in Indura yet in the 16th century. The Qahal was in possession of Grodno Qahal. In 1720 foremen of Lithuanian qahals had a meeting in Indura. They defined taxes of the Jewish community for 1721. According to the census of 1766 505 Jews lived in the village. Indura was the second center of Hasidism in Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Rabbi Chaim Haikl ben Smuel (he died in 1787), follower of Maggid and rabbi Aharon the Great. The strong Hasidic center was in continuous confrontation with mitnagdim and even with Rabbi Eliaх from Vilno. Rabbi Chaim Haykl was against vulgarization of Hasidism first traces of which became evident in some communities. After his death (1787) the community was headed by rabbi Shmuel (who died after 1798). But after Shmuel's death Hasidism in Indura stopped its development.

In the result of the third devision of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita) (1795) Indura was included to the Russian Empire where it became volost center of Grodno district. The village was owned by Bzhestovskiye and Kazlovskiye.  In 1833 eight shops worked there.

At the place of an old wooden RC church in 1815 a stone RC church was built. In the 19th century Indura catholic observance counted about 4,750 members.

In 1847 Indura Jewish Community consisted of 1220 people. According to the census of 1897 the village had: 314 yards, an RC church, a church, a synagogue, 4 Jewish praying houses, a parochial school, a post, a   parochial, a brewery, 2 wine houses, 16 workshops, a limestone plant, 8 taverns, Sunday fairs. In 1897 population of the village was 2,674 people (including 2,194 Jews).

In 1881 an Orthodox Alexander Nevskiy church was built in Indura in a retrospective Russian style. It was built of stone. 

A synagogue built in 1885 was situated in the Synagogue square. After the war it was used by the local collective farm for storing fertilizers.

In 1915 Indura was occupied by German troops. In 1919-1920 the village was taken by the Red Army, Polish troops. In 1921 in accordance with Riga treaty Indura was included to the Second Rzeczpospolita. Indura was the center of rural and local gmina of Grodno district, Belostotskoye voivodeship. On the 4th -the 6th of December 1925 a demonstration of peasants took place in Indura (about 300 people). It was aimed against the tax policy of the Authorities and in support of demonstraton organized by peasants in village Baranova (up to date it is in Grodno district).

In 1939 Indura was included to the Belorussian SSR and on the 1st of May it obtained a status of a settlement and became the center of the village council.  In June 1941 Indura was occupied by German troops.  In August-September of 1941 fascists created a ghetto in Indura. On the 2nd of November 1942 prisoners of this ghetto were deported to a transit camp Kolbasino and then they were sent to death camps Treblinka and Auschwitz. The settlement was released on the 14th of July 1944. On the 29th of December 1949 status of the settlement was lowered down to a village.  In 2007 Indura became an agrarian settlement.

ArcheologyDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Archeological memorial - an ancient settlement of an oval form was discovered in 0.5 km from Indurka River. Diameter of the internal site is about 18m. The height of the bank is up to 2 m. The following items were discovered: pottery of the 10th-13th centuries, fragments of iron sickles a biconical spindle whorl made of clay, bone articles (arrow tips, awls, a needle, a fishing hook). These findings very much resemble findings an old castle in Grodno.  Small-scale excavations were performed by K.T. Kovalskaya.

Samples of constructions and architectureDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

(only existing objects)

Blessed Trinity RC church (1815). A brick building in style of the late classicism with a significant portico consisting of four columns dominates over all other buildings. It was built in 1815-1825 according to the initiative of RC priest Radevich. In the beginning of the 20th century the building was supplemented with a wing of transept at the apse and two towers on each side of the main facade. These towers are of different height.  This reconstruction significantly improved the volumetric composition of the church. And figured coating of towers introduced a baroque trace to the previously linear construction of this complex.

St. Alexander Nevskiy church (1881) - area for building the church in the center of the village was donated by the local landowner Ivan Kozlovskiy. The first project of the temple developed in 1876 wasn't accepted in view of expensive building materials. It was proposed for realization in village Lunna (Mostovskiy district). The second project of the temple designed for 350 parishioners was developed by the governorate architect Kaliankevich on the 3rd of March 1879. This architect withdrew mechanical implementation of a typical project and made an attempt to simplify it. Preserving four-part composition of the building with a belfry, a refectory, the main volume and a pentahedral apse he created a unique pyramidal silhouette by means of variations of roofs and other volumes. This very architect created a project of an iconostasis for this church.

A peculiar feature of the church is a big artistic panel of an evangelistic plot.

This is a memorial of the 3rd category. It is brought to the state list of historical and cultural values.

Synagogue (1885) - after the war it was used by the local collective farm for storing fertilizers.

It is a sample of monumental classical trend in architecture of synagogues with minimal application of decorative elements.

The total composition may be defined as a basilican one. Traces of western European religious architecture can be noticed (oblongness along the longitudinal axis; design  of stairs in form of two tower-like volumes from the north; a construction resembling "narthex" between them and a "klerestotia" - walls with windows of the second light over lowered side galleries in the main hall).

The northern (main) facade with five axes of windows is crowned with a triangle three-window pediment; it is flanked with side rhizolithe towers (one axis of windows is directed to the north; two axes of windows are aimed at side facades) which are completed with simple applied columns (at each corner). Rhizolithes are continued along side facades in form of lowered one-storied galleries showing windows of the second light of the main hall (five axes on each side).  All windows of the building are of quite elongated proportions with a circular archivolt.

The south facade (it is also under the triangle three-window pediment) is also divided by means of flat broad shoulders into three parts; a narrow horizontal "ledge" divides it into two levels in height. The facade is flanked with ends of single-storied galleries with the triangle of slope and columns "pinnacles" articulating the outer edge of walling.

In the southern facade two side windows flank the central one presented in form of a typical round "rose" of the same radius as the other windows and archivolts. The unity of decision is emphasized by means of a shallow niche marking the supposed place of the rectangular part of its aperture. The lower level of the southern facade doesn't have windows: they are substituted with rectangular flat niches.

From inside side rhizolithes and the northern part of the composition are traditionally divided into two floors giving an opportunity to organize the upper (women's) gallery.

The building is constructed of brick. Previously it was plastered but this covering has mainly been lost. Open unplastered holes can be easily noticed as well as boulder walling going from the basement up to the socle level. A simple dragged ledge represents a general decorative and functional element.

Alongside with functional details (galleries of the second floor and stairs leading to these galleries) the "rose" window of the official facade should be accepted as a symbolic element of the general composition of the building. This element points at cultic mission of this building (as well as its location - on a hill in the center of the village).

Up to date the synagogue doesn't have definite users; it doesn't perform any functions and is gradually falling into disrepair. Nevertheless the technical state of the building may be defined as safe: the walls are still reliable and firm. But destruction has already started: tin and slate covering of the roof has got holes, some leaves have been lost; window shields are partially broken through ore are absent (especially on the ground floor). General ledge is damaged in multiple points.

Interior has been damaged even stronger: elements of initial minor forms are lost. Inside there is flooring which devides the building into two floors. It was constructed during the soviet period when the synagogue was used as a storehouse of a collective farm (the entire interior is very much littered with fragments of technical equipment, building materials, bird droppings etc.). Wooden parts of the gallery and the stairs have begun to rot. 

Distorting late changes are not numerous: along the side western facade a technical outbuilding was constructed. (up to date it is destroyed); in the south facade an aperture was constructed for transport access (it is as wide as the central divided part of the wall). Up to date this aperture is closed with wooden gate.

The synagogue in village Indura is one of comparatively preserved objects of Jewish cultural heritage. Even today it plays a dominating role in the local landscape and preserves memorial relations with culture of the past. Indura has got an exceptionally successful composition of memorials presenting development of cultural context of Belarus: objects of Jewish everyday life: a synagogue (more accurately two synagogues - the new and the old ones) and a cemetery. All these items can be easily viewed from the site of the ancient settlement (the 11th - the 13th centuries). Taken together these elements can compose a basis of a wonderful historical and cultural landscape junction. The synagogue should be also preserved taking into account the fact that there are no other major objects of monumental architecture in the village.

EthnographyDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Amdur surname is predominantly widespread among Ashkenazi Jews. It takes its origin from an analogous nickname stemming from the Yiddish name of village Indura (Amdur). During Polish rule Indura belonged to Trokskoye voivodeship of Grodno district.  Jews started to settle on the territory of Indura yet in the 16th century. It is quite possible that the father of Amdur family was born in this settlement. Representatives of Amdur family are mentioned in some memorial books. For example the Memorial Book of Vladimir region gives us information about Zalman Solomonovich Amdur who was born in 1908 in Poland in Bereslav settlement. The Memorial Book of Perm region includes information about a Jew Lazar Samuilovich Amdur (1911) who lived in Berezniki town, Ural region and a Lithuanian Sabin Yankelevich Amdur who was born in 1901 in settlement Bereslavl of Koven government. Archive documents of Moscow region include information about a Jew Izidor Samuilovech Amdur who was born in 1905 in London and was a member of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and took a position of an editor of "Foreign Literature" magazine. 

Museums, archives, libraries, private collectionsDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Indura has got a secondary school and a school of music, a pre-school educational establishment, a recreation center and a library.

Touristic infrastucture Direct link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

 Cafe "Virage": work hours (from 9:00 a.m till 05:00 p.m. without a lunch break; on Saturdays: from 9:00a.m till 03:00p.m, Sunday is a day off). Bar "Znychka": work hours (from 04:00 p.m till 00:00 a.m without lunch break, day offs – Monday, Tuesday).

ReferencesDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

1.      Памяць: Гісторыка-дакументальная хроніка Гродзенскага раёна. – Мінск “Беларуская энцыклапедыя” ім. Пятра Броўкі. 1993

2.     Козырев В. Седина ей к лицу. Откуда пошла Индура. //  Перспектива  Гродненская региональная газета № 58 (9035)  26.07.2013 г.

3.      Indura // Геаграфічны слоўнік Каралеўства Польскага і іншых славянскіх краёў. Tom III: Haag — Kępy. — Warszawa, 1882. S. 278

4.      Вольга Князева, Валеры Шаблюк. Індура // Энцыклапедыя гісторыі Беларусі. У 6 т. Т. 3: Гімназіі — Кадэнцыя / Беларус. Энцыкл.; Рэдкал.: Г. П. Пашкоў (гал. рэд.) і інш.; Маст. Э. Э. Жакевіч. — Мн.: БелЭн, 1996. С. 486.

5.      Соркіна І. Мястэчкі Беларусі ў канцы ХVІІІ — першай палове ХІХ ст. — Вільня: ЕГУ, 2010.

6.     Индура. Еврейская энциклопедия Брокгауза и Ефрона (ЕЭБЕ) -  Россия, Санкт-Петербург, 1906—1913

7.      Происхождение фамилии Амдур // [Электронный ресурс] . - Дата доступа: 08.06.14 г.

8.     Индура // [Электронный ресурс]  - дата доступа 10.08.14 г.

9.     Хайкель Амдурский. Большая биографическая энциклопедия // [Электронный ресурс] – Дата доступа – 15.06.14 г.

10.            Терменев А. Индура постарела на 129 лет. // [Электронный ресурс]  - Дата доступа 20.08.14 г.


Author: Irina Milinkevich