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


NN Theatre

Zheludok - Cultural Heritage Card

Жалудок [Belorus.],

זאלודאק [Zhaludok, Yiddish],

ז'לודוק [Heb.],

Żeludok [Polish],

Žaludkas [Lithuanian],

Желудок [Rus.]

Zheludok is an urban-type settlement in Shucin district, Grodno region.

Jewish houses in Zheludok
Jewish houses in Zheludok (Author: Filina, Natalya)

HISTORICAL AND NATURAL LANDSCAPEDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

It is situated 22 km from the district center town Shuchin, 12 km from the railway station Skribovtsy on Mosty-Linda railway line. Population of this settlement is 1,500 people (2006). The settlement is situated on the territory of Lida lowland, 12 km to the north from Neman River, 20 km from a big forestland (Lipishchanskaya forest). River Zhaludianka flows across the settlement itself (a right tributary of Lebeda River).

Geographic coordinates: 53° 36′ 0″ N, 24° 59′ 0″ E

Historical and cultural memorials – Palace and park complex of Tyzengauzs and Sviatopolk-Chetvertinskiye (the 18th century - 1907–1908), Polish RC Church Ascension of the Most Holy Virgin Mary (1854). During February-March of 1706 Swedish king Charles XII was in Zheludok with a visit.

HISTORYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Zheludok is one of the most ancient settlements of Belorussian Ponemanye.  It was first mentioned in written sources in approximately 1385 in reports presented by the spies of the Teutonic Order as Stegenvill's rural domain – "Stegewillendorf Szolutka". It is quite probable that representatives of Stegivilovichi gentry family acted as stewards of the Grand Prince of Lithuania. In 1495 citizens Voronovichi from Zhelududok are mentioned.  During 1480–1490 Great Prince Casimir built an RC church in Zheludok. In the result of a raid of Crimean Tatars in 1506 this RC church was burnt. It was reconstructed in 1529 under the decree issued by the King and the Grand Prince Lithuania Sigismund I the Old. According to a Polish researcher Stanislav Alexandrovich starting from 1486 Zheludok was defined as a settlement and in 1512 it is mentioned in the list of Prince's yards in Lida povet (district). In 1536 "targi" (markets) are first mentioned in Zheludok. These markets were organized on Mondays. Thus initially Zheludok was a center of the princely eldership ("Derzhava Zheludskaya", "Zheludok volost" or "povet") (up to 1567). Zheludok povet was first mentioned in September 1506 and then in 1509; Power in the povet was executed by Zheludok governor. In October 1503 this post was taken by Prince's huntsman and equerry Martin Khreptovich. In 1510 Nickolay Yuryevich Patsovich is mentioned as Zheludok governor.

In the middle 16th century Zheludok was owned by representatives of magnate family Sapeg who obtained the settlement from the Grand Prince as a compensation for material losses during performing government service. After daughter of "marshal gospodarskiy", voivode of Vitebsk and Podlaise Ivan Bogdanovich Sapeg (1480-1546) Anna Sapezhanka (died in 1580) married judge from Vitebsk and steward of Lida Nickolay Frantskevich-Radziminskiy Zheludok passed to this gentry family of "Brodits" coat of arms. In 1680 "Zheludokskiy kluch" a big land estate on both banks of Neman River with panskiy yard, the settlement, villages, arable lands and forests passed to Casimir Fratskevich-Radziminskiy (1638-1694). In February 1706 Zheludok was chosen as the headquarters of Sweden King Charles XII during Grodno operation. And this fact testifies quite a high level of development of the settlement and its favourable location. 

In the beginning of the 18th century a part of "Zheludokskiy kluch" passed to Tizengauzs family. David Frantskevich-Radziminskiy's daughter married a noble clerk of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania count Mikhail Tizengauz (he died in 1726). He bought half of "Zheludokskiy kluch" from his father in law for 5 thousand thalers. Mikhail's son Benedict Tizengauz bought other parts of "Zheludokskiy kluch" from Franzkevichi-Radziminskiye and Zhaby and resored unity of this territory. After Benedict’s death Zheludok was owned by a well-known statesman of Lithuania taking position of a treasurer, administrator of king's economies and Grodno starosta (headman) Antoniy Tizengauz (1733 -1785). After Antoniy Tizengauz’s death Zheludok was owned by other representatives of this family (Ignatiy, Rudolf, Konstantin).  During that period four settlements were known under name Zheludok (a settlement, count's estate, "plebania" (property of RC church) and "blagodelnia").  In 1835 Zheludok passed to possession of noble family Uruskiy as a portion of Germanzia Tizengauz who married count Severin Uruskiy. After Mariya Uruskaya (1853–1931) married prince Vladimir Sviatopolk-Chetvertinskiy Zheludok was possessed by this noble family. Their son Ludvig Sviatopolk-Chetvertinskiy (1877–1941) was the last noble owner of Zheludok. In 1908 Vladimir Sviatopolk-Chetvertinskiy built a castle in the modernist style not far from the settlement. Architect Vladislav Markoni was the author of this project. The complex included a castle, an outhouse, household buildings, a mill, a park of a regular planning. 

Neither of owners of Zheludok tried to provide the settlement with the Magdeburg Law which could help to broaden trading, to obtain self-government and an emblem.  In 1830 349 people lived in settlement Zheludok. In 1833 population of Zheludok was 395 people including 5 merchants of the 3rd guild. The settlement had 17 stone houses and 24 wooden houses, 2 shops and 7 drinking houses. In 1860 Zheludok had 88 houses and its population was 581 people. In the 19th beginning of the 20th century Zheludok was a volost center in Lida uyezd (district). In 1876 Zheludok volost included 26 settlements, 328 yards and population of 3,764 peasants of both genders. Forests consisted about 13% of the territory. In 1876 population of Zheludok was 996 people; in 1889 its population was 1299 people; in 1897 its population was 1,860; in 1909 its population was 1,969 people.

According to documents of 1880 there were 161 houses in the settlement. Tax on property was paid in amount of 33 rubles 66 kopecks. Economic situation in Zheludok was characterized as follows: "The settlement had an RC church, a pantry of the magistrate, the volost administration, a public school, a post office, shops, drinking houses and inns, tanneries and a mill.  Peasants are engaged in bread making and Jews deal in minor trading. Weekly markets are organized on Mondays. Fairs are organized every year with a turnover of up to 15 thousand rubles.

A map of Zheludok and its neighborhood issued in 1916 by the Petrograd topographic department (18.5×17.5 versts) reflects its state on the eve of the First World World because in autumb 1915 Grodno region was occupied by troops of Kaiser Germany. According to the map Zheludok had 5 streets situated radially with 196 yards. The neighborhood of the settlement included 82 villages (20-30 yards in each), 23 farms, 10 landowner's yards, 5 farms, 5 separate peasant's households, several wine making houses, brick plants and tar works. Inns were situated along roads (their total number was 12):  "Zhyzhma", "Korysts", "Pogulianka", "Vygoda", "Peski" etc. During the First World War a certain part of population of Zheludok was evacuated to Samara government.

In 1921-1939 Zheludok was a gmina center of Lida povet (district), Novogrud voivodeship of the renewed Polish State. According to population census of the 30th of September 1931 Zheludok had 274 houses and its total population was 1,552 people: 1,053 Jews, 467 Catholics, 31 Orthodox believers and 1 Lutheran. In addition to this the count's estate Zheludok included 14 buildings and had a population of 242 people: 204 Catholics, 21 Orthodox believers and 17 Jews. In January 1925 3 schools worked in Zheludok: a state secondary school where learning was carried out in Polish (255 pupils), a private Jewish Orthodox school (learning in Hebrew) (58 pupils) and a private Jewish school (learning in Yiddish) (101 pupils) which was kept by means of parents' association funds. Industry was presented by a brick plant and a tannery, 2 wine making plants a quarry for extraction of sand and crushed stones, a bakery, a small brewery and a water mill. Trading was performed in 10 shops of colonial goods, 10 shops of consumer goods, a tobacco shop and 3 restaurants. Zheludok also had medical institutions with a certain staff. These institutions included: 2 pharmacy store houses, 1 pharmacy shop. A physician, a dentist and 2 medical assistants worked in these institutions. Cooperative cash performed financial operations.

In January 1940 the Soviet power changed administrative and territorial division of the western Belarus. Zheludok became an urban-type settlement and the center of   a district of the same name. The district included 13 village councils and 1 settlement council. Population of the district was 37,266 people including 2436 people living in Zheludok itself. During that period princess Chetvertinskaya's wine-making plant was considered the largest enterprise in Zheludok.  In addition to that Zheludok had two power plants, a steam powered mill, 3 tanneries, a hospital for 40 beds, 4 schools, a pharmacy shop, a veterinary station a post office and a telegraph station.

German troops entered Zheludok on the 27th of June 1941. The settlement was released by Soviet troops on the 12th of July 1944. In May of 1945 population of the district was 34,257. 6,905 of them put their names down for emigration to Poland within the frame of repatriation of Polish population which was organized during that period.  Zheludok district was extinguished on the 17th of April 1962 and its territory was included to Shuchino, Diatlovo, Lida and Mosty districts of BSSR. Since that time forth Zheludok is an urban-type settlement of Shuchino district, Grodno region.

It is probable that Jewish community of Zheludok began its history in the 17th - the 18th centuries.  At any rate Jewish community of neighboring settlement Orli is mentioned in documents in approximately 1729 among Lithuanian communities which had to pay income tax. According to census record at the end of the 18th century Zheludok Jewish community included 287 members who paid capitation tax, i.e. in reality about 600 Jews lived in the settlement.  In the 19th century under influence of restraining statute regarding Jews introduced by the Russian Authorities density of Jewish population grew and share of Jews in Zheludok increased from 53% up to 73.5%. Activity of Jewish merchants and craftsmen contributed to trading and industrial development of the settlement.

On the background of other inhabited localities settlements were distinguished first of all by their trading infrastructure. During the second half of the 19th century - beginning of the 20th century horse fairs were carried out in Zheludok on the day of "Descent of the Holy Spirit" (the Advent). According to reports of royal officials the turnover of these fairs was up to 20 thousand rubles.  Besides of that 5 fairs were organized in Zheludok yearly. For members of Jewish communities a fair is also a place and time where and when matchmaking was organized and Yeshiva recruitment took place.

According to the decree of the 16th of April 1852 the workshop system in governments with significant Jewish population was significantly reorganized: workshops were liquidated in places where the number of craftsmen was insignificant and "simplified handicraft boards" were organized.   In all towns and settlements separate "Jewish non-handicraft workshops" were organized.  These workshops were intended for diggers, bricklayers, stonemasons, carpenters, plasterers, cabmen, coachmen, gardeners, workers of "factories" and "plants", unskilled laborers, day-laborers and domestic servants. During the second half of 1852 – beginning of 1853 composed (or compound) craft workshops were organized in nine inhabited localities of Lida uyezd (district) including Zheludok. Within these compound workshops 329 craftsmen of various specialties were united. 26 workshop craftsmen of 10 handicraft specialties lived in Zheludok: tailors (4 masters and 4 apprentices), shoe makers (1 apprentice), saddlers (1 master), glaziers (1 apprentice), dyers (1 master, 2 apprentices), hatters (2 masters and 1 apprentice), butchers (2 apprentices), smiths (3 masters, 1 apprentice), and coppersmiths (2 apprentices). According to data of 1912 a Jewish loan saving community was in operation in Zheludok.

At the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries there were two Jewish synagogues in Zheludok. According to documents of that period they were defined as prayerful schools. Unfortunately the precise date of construction of the stone synagogue (preserved until now) hasn't been defined. Probably it was built in the beginning of 1890-s.  In the report of Vilno government board of the 31st of July 1892 defining members of the prayerful board at one of Jewish prayerful schools in Zheludok it was defined that the "prayerful school is situated in a living house accepted for existence in accordance with the decree of the government board issued on the 17th of July 1891".

In 1899 the Jewish community of Zheludok requested to construct another building for the prayerful school.   In the request it was stated that there was one heated synagogue and one unheated prayerful house in the settlement. At the same time there were 200 Jewish houses and 1,500 of Jews of both genders in Zheludok.  During wintertime the synagogue was unable to accommodate all those who wanted to take part in acts of worship and that' why the Jewish community addressed the government board "asking for permission to build another school of wood or if the government finds a stone one we shall agree: we've got sufficient funds for construction of a school".  A plan including the existing and the planned building of prayerful schools in the Market Square was attached to the request. In his reply presented to Vilno government board Lida district officer noted that the third building of a prayerful school was planned at the place where two stone praying houses had already been presented. But the building couldn't be performed because the area ("plats") was very small and the prayerful board refused to broaden this area or to find another one.  Nevertheless the district officer considered that the third prayerful school in Zheludok was necessary because of high density of people and insanitary conditions during divine services in two existing ones. In archive documents it is stated that the building was never constructed at least during the period of up to 1909. In January of 1909 Vilno government board sent an instruction addressed to Lida Police Board. According to this instruction the Police Board had to collect and present information whether the second Jewish prayerful school is organized and where it is situated: near the synagogue in the Market Square or somewhere else. And if the second school hadn't been built yet the Police Board had to question philistines Movsha Korytnianskiy and Samuil Olshtein whether the local Jewish community was planning to send another request for permission to build the second prayerful house in Zheludok repeating the request of 1905 left without reaction in view of the fact that a construction project meeting technical and other conditions wasn't presented.

Archive documents present surnames of philistines included to boards of prayerful schools during the last decade of the 19th century. According to the public verdict of the 31st of June 1892 the following people were elected as members of the Prayerful Board at the Zheludok Jewish prayerful school (from among congregation members): position of the Learned Jew - ecclesiastical rabbi Yelia Movsha Levin (56 years of age); a candidate to him - Sholom Nokhimovich Amsterdamskiy (30 years of age); position of a monitor (goba) - Abram Mikhelevich Vilenkin (60 years of age); a candidate to him - Movsha Aron Ioselev Levin (32 years of age); position of treasurer (neyman) - Ovsey Ovseyevich Shyfmanovich (54 years of age); candidate to him - Movsh Shymonovich Korytianskiy (40 years of age). The public verdict was signed by: Abram Vilenkin, Ovsey Shyfmanovich, Nokhim Shyfmanovich, Borukh Krasnoselskiy, Itsko Stein, Chaim Shekhtmeister, Urko Bristovitskiy, Shevel Grindberg, Zelman Krasnoselskiy, Shmuel Shyfmanovich, Iosel Stein, Ber Zhager, Shmuel Veinstein, Shevel Shkliar.

During the next in succession elections already two prayerful boards were elected. It is probable that during the four-year period another prayerful school was open.

The bath house was an important object in the settlement. It was used for performing not just hygienic but also ritual functions. Zheludok has ruins of a bath house which according to the available documents was built at the border of the 19th and the 20th centuries.  According to available documents construction of a public trading bath house in Zheludok was started in 1892 without a necessary permit of the government board. In 1901 members of Zheludok Jewish prayerful board applied for reconstruction of the existing public bath house and obtained Governor's permit for this activity. Reconstruction was going on during a year and on the 15th of October 1902 inspection of the reconstructed building of the bath house was performed. 

The document defining the process of collecting money from members of Zheludok Philistine Community (at the border of the 19th and the 20th centuries) gives an opportunity to define items of expenditure philistines' money were spent for.  In January of 1896 deputies of Zheludok Philistine Community resolved to use the money during the following year for covering the following needs: supply of horses for police stations at Lebeda and Zheludok volost boards (200 rubles); hiring a flat for the philistine board with heating and light (100 rubles); purchase of books and forms (25 rubles); payment for writing letters (100 rubles); hiring a guard (30 rubles); purchase of a tickler book (memory book) (1 ruble); various unforeseen needs (18 rubles). TThe total sum of expenditures was 519 rubles. For this sum "on common consideration" it was decided to collect this sum from members of the community taking into account fortune of each of them. The sum of 519 rubles was defined to be collected from 203 members of the community in various amounts (from 1 to 10 rubles). 

In July 1914 the First World War started. Yet before its proclamation mobilization to the Russian army was initiated. In august of 1914 36 Jews from Zheludok and princess Chetvertinskaya's lease holders were called up for the military service. Their families started to obtain monetary allowance. The sum of this allowance was various for various families depending on family composition (from 2 rubles   81 kopecks and to 18 rubles 27 kopecks. In the preserved document "Report of Inspection of Families of Persons Called up for Military Service and Granting them Allowances in Zheludok Volost" 36 families are mentioned.

In 1940 the share of Jewish population of Zheludok was 70% (1,708 Jews out of 2,436 persons of total population). Over 200 Jews lived in village Orlia. According to information presented by Moshe Birkha several families from Lodzi neighborhood came to Zheludok  with the beginning of the Second World War. But the precise number of migrants hasn't been defined.

After establishment of the Soviet power in September of 1939 construction of an airdrome being an important military object was started in Zheludok. The synagogue was requisitioned and "Red Army House" was organized in its building. A week before the Great Patriotic War several traders, craftsmen and Jewish intelligentsia representatives from Zheludok were taken under arrest and sent to prison in Lida town.  Some of them managed to come back to Zheludok at the end of the first week of the War.    

German troops entered Zheludok on the 27th of June 1941. On that day they set the settlement on fire.  During the fire more than a half of all buildings were burnt. The first action of extermination consisted in shooting of 6 Jews who were communists according to local inhabitant Pastushko's testimony.  In August of 1941 Zheludok was included to Lida district of  General district "Belarus" (Reich Commission "Ostland"). In the beginning of July the civil administration and police were formed out of local inhabitants who were ethnical poles.  Kulinskiy became the Burgomaster and Pastushko was appointed the head of the police. The first order of the new authorities was that all Jews should wear white bandages with yellow "Stars of David".

On the 10th of July 1941 German Military Authorities ordered Jews to organize a meeting and to elect the Judenrat reliable for execution of authorities' orders. According to Moshe Birkha nobody wanted to be a member of the Judenrat. But the list of members of this committee was composed. It included tanner Shlomo Nokhumovskiy, Moshe Greyzhevskiy, Avrakham Meir and the chairman Mendel Galay. The Judenrat was situated in Nokhumovskiy's house.

Several more actions of Jewish population extermination took place before establishment of a ghetto. One of such occurrences took place in Landlord Chetvertinskiy's palace where about 100 Jews were performing works according to the order of the German military authorities.  It was a hot summer day and many people took off the overclothes with bandages. When workers lined up for job placement the German captain chose twenty two persons who appeared to be without bandages.  They were separated from the total line; they were given spades and were ordered to dig a pit. After that all of them were shot dead.  Those who were left alive filled up the pit where bodies of shot Jews were.

There were cases when Germans and police officers extorted from Jews their valuable belongings. So, on the 10th of August 1941 a big sum of money was ordered to be collected. Members of Judenrat assigned definite sums among all families of the ghetto and so the needed sum was collected.

Another case took place when the head of the police ordered Jews working at a construction of a road to bring him their golden items. Hostages were taken who were going to be killed in case of non-following the order. Several workers informed Mendel Galay about this. He went to houses of Jews, collected golden watches (clocks), rings and other valuable items and handed everything to the police.

Ghetto in Zheludok was officially established on the 1st of November 1941. It was situated in street Orlianskaya which was the only street preserved after the Fire. On the next day Jews from Orli were resettled to this street.  The ghetto was of an open type without any fences around the territory.  Life conditions in the ghetto were really hard as far as 8-10 families lived in each house.  The Synagogue was also used for living.

According to those who stayed alive the Judenrat and members of the Community did everything possible to facilitate the life in the ghetto. Moshe Birkh was an unskilled laborer in a canteen for German officers and he was often sent to the mill for flour. Every time he tried to hide a bag of flour for prisoners in the ghetto.

During autumn-winter 1941-1942 actions of extermination of Jews in Zheludok were carried out by a special SS team which came from Lida by a car called by local inhabitants "Buda" . Only in autumn of 1941 32 Jews from Orli and 28 Jews from Zheludok were killed.  

After one of such actions a security service was organized in ghetto. Every night three people went on duty for the purpose of informing prisoners about danger. Many Jews stated to organize hiding places where they could find shelter in case of danger.

            A local inhabitant Mikhail Kavko persuaded peasants to help Jews and not to cooperate with Germans. "While Jews are alive you will also live. But you should understand that after Germans have exterminated all Jews they will start to kill you"

Moshe Birkh recollected.

It is known that in conditions of persecution Jews managed to organize their religious life. On Rosh Hashana (the 21st of September) and Yom Kipur (the 1st of October) secret divine services were organized in the ghetto with participation of Rabbi Chaim Shlomo Venstein. At the same time houses where the divine services were carried out were taken under security.

On the 8th of May a Sondrkommand of SS officers and Lithuanian policemen under command of SS officers Leopold Windisch and Rudolf Werner. The ghetto was surrounded and Jews were prohibited to go out to the street. On the next day Jews with documents and valuable belongings were driven together on the Market Square. There SS officers performed selection of prisoners. 80 craftsmen were sent back to the ghetto and closed in the Synagogue. A week before destruction of ghetto 140 young Jews were sent to works to the railway station Skribovo and then to Linda ghetto. Prisoners who stayed on the square after selection were shot dead on the 9th of May 1942 in pits near the airdrome.  These pits were preliminary dug out by peasants at the order of the police.  According to various sources number of Jews shot dead during the action in Zheludok is from 1 to 2 thousand people. Craftsmen who were left alive first were sent to Shuchin ghetto and then sent to the death camp "Sobibor".

Some Jews managed to hide on the territory of the ghetto.  According to Pesia Levit five Jews hid in the bakery. But they were discovered by police officers and brutally killed. Levit herself managed to escape. She was helped by a local police officer Yanish. Nokhum Shifmanovich hid in an oven then he managed to leave the settlement and meet Soviet partisans. Some Jews managed to escape from Lida ghetto and to join brothers Belskiye's partisan group and to groups of Sovirt partisans.  A native of Zheludok Nokhum Shifmanovich (born in 1922) recollected his life in the settlement.

" parents had a small drapery. My dad Gets was fascinated with a wind band. He was the organizer of this band. My mom Elka was a house wife and helped in the drapery. I also had brother Enia and sister Shleyme. In Zheludok here were three schools where learning was carried out in Hebrew and Polish, two synagogues (the old one and the new one). I remember Rabbi Sorochkin. There were departments of "ha-Haluz" and "Beytar" organizations. The settlement was not far from the border and there were rumors about persecution of Jews. Nobody knew anything about shootings. People said that such civilized people as Germans couldn't exterminate innocent people.   

When the War started Zheludok district government escaped. During a week of anarchy before appearance of Germans (the 27th of June 1941) peasants from neighboring villages plundered Jewish houses. These were mainly houses where resistance couldn't be maintained. Germans burnt the settlement. Only suburbs were left intact. Ghetto was organized there. People lived in a horrible tightness (several families in one room). Attitude towards Jews changed. Some local inhabitants joined police and cooperated with the new authorities; others were ready to help but the most people were indifferent. During first days six Jews were shot dead as former communists. Then people were killed for a slightest fault. 22 Jews who didn't have yellow sleeve bandages during works were shot dead. I was among them.  First Germans didn't require with addiction to wear these bandages.  Once the new commandant arrived to the place of work and demanded to show the bandages during formation. I took out my bandage with tie-strings torn. I asked the man standing next to me for a pin and fastened the edges.  And my friend didn't find his bandage. He and other persons without bandages were taken aside and shot dead. We were ordered to fill up the bodies. I rememer one of them cried: "Jews! Don't fill up! I'm still alive!". Three days later bodies were allowed to be burried at the Jewish cemetery. When we dug out the bodies in the breast pocket of my friend I found this fucking bandage which became a permit to life... 

On the 9th of May a general action was carried out. Everybody was driven to a prepared ditch in the country. People were shot by Germans and local police officers. A boy Fishele was the only one who survived. He got out of the pit and ran away although he was necked. But later he was caught by Germans. During the pogrom our entire family died: about 30 persons including father, mother, sister Enia who was a good dancer and others. Shlemele was the only one whom our mother managed to hide: she covered him with bricks in the Russian stove. At night he got out of there and ran away. After long hardships he found partisans and and was included to their group. Shleimele who was 19 years of age often went on reconnaissance. He was very imprudent and always wanted to be ahead. During the last battle he was gravely wounded.

I stayed alive just because I was working in the neighboring village during the shooting. Later I was taken to Lida.   During that period partisans had already arrived there. One night a liaison person arrived to take the surgian from the ghetto to the forest. On the 15th of October we (including the physician and several friends) left the ghetto armed with defective guns. Parisans' attitude towards Jews was various. Some of them sympathized and other expressed their dislike. In the group I was like all the others: I performed tasks, waited in ambush, stood guard. Borukh Levin escaped with me.  Police officers tried to hunt him and he was continuously hiding.  In the group Borukh became a legend: he destroyed 10 military trains. He was submitted to the rank of hero of the Soviet Union but he didn't obtain this rank. After the War Borukh went to palistina and lived there until 1981. He died at the age of 70.

After Zheludok was released by the Soviet troops in July 1944 nobody of Jews who had escaped came back to the settlement. In 1959 on the grave of shot Jews a standard soviet obelisk was set up.  SS oficers L.Windish and R Werner after the War were brought to trial for their crimes during the period of occupation and were sentenced to life-long imprisonment.

ARCHEOLOGYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

(a short description containing only the most interesting information)

On the bank of Zheludianka river near the bridge a settlement of the Iron Age was discovered (the culture of shaded ceramics the 7th - the 6th century B.C. – the 6th century A.D). The archaeological memorial is included to the State list of historical and cultural of the Republic of Belarus. Excavations were not performed.

URBAN PLANNINGDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Information about development of the planning structure of the settlement comes from the 18th century and is connected with its owners (Tyzyngauzs family).  The settlement had the center in form of an ellipsoid square (longitudinal size - 150m, crosswise size - 100 m). with shoping line in the middle, a stone semicircular inn on the line of the oval of a smaller radius and six divaricated streets. One of these streets defined as the main one and leading to the castle ended at the facade of the inn. Composition of Zheludok center was created under influence of English town building.  On one hand it included completeness of "Kings Circus" and topic of radius streets and on the other hand it represents the motive of half ellipse «Royal Crescent». Structure of the center of Zheludok resembles the project of Koloda suburbs of Polish town Syszyn performed by a Prussian architect I. Graff in 1784. In the 19th century the Jewish street Orleanskaya was formed. It was completely inhabited by Jews and preserved its appearance till Holocaust.  Buildings of the street are partially preserved even today.   

ETHNOGRAPHYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Ethnographic scenes of Jewish life in Zheludok were left by a native of Zheludok Miron (Mordekhay) Mordukhovich:  "Synagogue is related with many ritual customs surrounding Jews from birth and up to death. In good weather official part of wedding ceremonies took place in the yard in front of the building. Chuppah was set here - it is a cannopy (a big coverlet) of a rectangular cloth attached to four poles which were hold by adolescents. The bridegroom and the bride were standing under the Chuppah while the rabbi was reading the wedding agreement. Parents, best people, relatives and friends were standing nearby. The young marrieds drank wine from a cup and broke it at the same time respective prayer were read - it was considered that the Chuppah was established and a new family was formed.  All Jews had to undergo this ritual (even atheists) because the official marriage certificate wasn't handed without this ceremony and the marriage was considered invalid.

But it was not always that the loud yard was cheerful. Funeral processions passed through this yard as well. Jewish funeral ceremony was very sorrowful and was really different from the respective Orthodox ceremony: the dead person was sewed into a white shroud and the body was lying on the floor surrounded with candles. Relatives were sitting on the floor nearby.  On the day of funerals a representative of khevr kadish (funeral brotherhood) was going along streets of the settlement calling people to participation in the funeral ceremony (in a monotonous shout). The body was placed on a stretcher and four men carried the stretcher to the cemetery. Women were weeping aloud with sobbing cries and lamentations. The body was buried not in a coffin but in an enclosure made of boards. Pieces of broken crockery and pine branches were placed on the body in order to provide an easier gettin up during moshyyakh arival. Jews don't have funeral repasts.  The closest relatives sit on the floor for a period of only 7 days: they "sit shive", they don't shave, don't wash themselves and the son or another youngest man reads kadish (a commemorative prayer).

The Synagogue was a place for various preachers, local ones and those coming from other districts. Beggars and weak-minded persons being in difficult life situations spent nights there.  Synagogue was related to shames (lay-brother) and shokhet (cutter) who was permitted to cut cattle and birds for a peculiar payment. A hen which didn't come through a cutter was considered treif.  It was connected with a fact that Jews were categorically prohibited to eat blood.   Even an egg with a blood spot had to be thrown away. An entire code of laws and customs about trief meat and milk food, about fasting and other postulates was created on this basis. Law that concerned trief and kosher food presented serious restrictions in the process of nutrition. But these restrictions were accepted from the very childhood as a matter-of-course.


During the entire week people were working by sweat of their brow to obtain their daily bread but on Saturday, the day of rest a poor Jew became a monarch in his modest house. He was waiting for this day taking food of poor people: black bread, potatoes with a herring souse which could be obtained in a shop free of charche, cabbage, swede, radish flavored with sunflower oil.  But on Saturday challah was on the table. Women read a prayer ("kidush") over it. There were also cont, kugel, soup with kneidelakh tsimes etc. After dinner everybody had rest and in the evening people went to the yard to sit on a bench with neighbors near the house and to speak about life politics, prices, horses and other labors.  But there were also many religious holidays which became folk’s holidays. Each holiday had its peculiar approach, its specific featurs and customs.

So, during Chanukah candles were lit on windows; they were twinkling in dark window glass reminding about events of ancient times. Children played spinning top, obtained Chanukah money. The rule was to bake pancakes and to eat them in a company at a common table. 

During Suckes (an autumn holiday) huts were built; they were covered with pine branches instead of palm leaves and repast was organized there. Prelates with a palm and a fruit resembling a lemon (lulekh and esrig) branch were going from house to house and reading prayers.

During Shvues (the holiday of spring) there was a cult of green: houses and flats were decorated with young sprouts and greens.

During Purim a legend about Mordekhay and Ester, king Artaxerks and the evil Amman was read in synagogues. Performances of this biblical plot were organized, in synagogues people blowed the horn and damned Amman. And at home omentashn was baked (thriangle pies filled with sweet poppy seeds).  But Easter (Pesach) was the main holiday. Everybody dreamt of it: adults and children, rich people and beggars, devout people and atheists.  It was a week of rest, joy and pleasure. Children were especially pleased with the eve of this holiday (Erev Pesach). After the long and cold winter windows and doors were finally open, ceilings were whitewashed, walls were colored, order and purity were organized everywhere.  Bonfires were burning in yards where all unnecessary things as well as "khomets" were burnt. At the same time all possible pots were cleaned. Finally it was really warm the sun covered the awakening land with its rays. The nature was reviving and people's souls became really bright.

The most responsible moment arrived - boxes with Easter ware were taken from the attic. These were really various things: faience tureens and silver soup ladle, beautiful dinner services (sets) for 6 persons, cupronickel spoons and forks and of course stemware and glasses with pictures and inscriptions of Easter plots.   I had a little wine glass  made of blue glass in form of a small barrel and every year I was waiting for its coming from a dark box where it spent the whole year in order to glitter and wink with its blue eyes on this wonderful holiday.

Approximately a month before the holiday "podriads" started to function where matzo was baked.  On the day of the Eater "khomets" was removed everything containing leaven was hidden and taken to sheds and "bal matsa" and things made of it were ruling in the house during the entire week. Lunches were square and tasty: including meat broths with kneydlakh, meat of various kinds, fish and fruits.  Every day wine labeled "kosher ga pesakh" was drunk for lunch. In many families and in our family as well "med" beverage was prepared for Easter. It was prepared of honey, hop and other additional ingredients. During several days it fermented and then it was passed through paper filters and by the beginning of the holiday this sweat and a bit intoxicating fluid of amber color was finally ready.

In each house where religious traditions were praised "seder" was organized in the evening including its famous ritual ceremony and reading prayers. A wine glass with wine for the Prophet Elijah (Elijah-a-novi) was put on the threshold. The holiday was over in a weak. Workdays finally arrived. Easter ware was again put to boxes till the next year. Labor summer was waiting for everybody with all its hardships and then the cheerful New Year (Rosh-Ashanah).

SAMPLES OF CONSTRUCTIONS AND ARCHITECTUREDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

(only existing objects)

RC Church Ascension of the Most Holy Virgin Mary – an architecture monument of the late classicism. It was built of quarry stone in 1853-1854. Its architect was Karol Podchashynskiy A rectangular volume with a semicircular apse, "zakristia" and wings of transept on each side.  Under the altar there is a crypt with a burial of Tyzengauzs family representatives. On side walls of the presbytery two bas-reliefs of white marble with bas-relief depiction of Countess G. Tyzengauz (1822-1891) and count S.Uruskiy (1817-1890). A four -storied bell-tower is situated nearby. 

Palace and park complex of Sviatopolk-Chetverinskiy's family.  It was formed during the period from the end of the 18th and up to the beginning of the 20th century. The castle was built in 1908 in baroque style according to the project of Warsaw architect V.Markoni. The architectural ensemble includes an outbuilding in form of a Gothic castle, several household buildings (a smithy, a sviran, and a mill) and a regular French park. 

Synagogue. It was constructed in the beginning of the 20th century. Settlement recreation center is situated in the building of this synagogue. The building was constructed during the after war period; peculiar features are preserved on the north facade. 

Jewish cemetery is preserved in a good state. It is situated in the north-eastern suburbs of the settlement, 300 m from the monument to people shot dead in 1942.  About 500 matzevah have been preserved.   The oldest matzevah is dated 1800; and the youngest one is dated 1916.

150 m. from the synagogue a mikvah is preserved. It is dated the beginning of the 20th century and was built during after war period.

MEMORIAL PLACESDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

At the place where Zheludok Jewish community was shot in 1959 a monument was erected (1 km to the east from the settlement).  

INTANGIBLE VALUESDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Zheludok is the native settlement of several famous representatives of creative intelligentsia.  Ben-Avigdor (Avrokham Leib Shalkovich) was born in Zheludok in 1867. He received traditional Jewish education and from 1891 he lived in Warsaw.  Ben Avigdor is a prominent writer, one of the first populizers of literature works in Hebrew. In Warsaw he published "Sifrey Agora" series of books. Books of this series had a small size, were well designed and cheap. This series expressed views of "the new wave" trying to revive literature in Hebrew in the context of realistic strands which were popular during that period in Europe. In 1893 Ben Avigdor founded printing house "Achisaf" in Warsaw where three volumes of "Luach Akhusaf" yearbook were published. And in 1896 he founded publishing partnership "Tushiya" dealing in translations from foreign languages. In 1901 he founded "Olam katan" children's weekly.  In 1913 Ben-Avigdor founded "Achisefer" publishing house.  Stories and tales by Ben-Avigdor were among the first prose works in Hebrew where the central place was taken by problems of separate persons and not historical and cultural matters of Jewish people. The writer died in 1921 in Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary).

Pavel (Pinkhus) Kremen was born in Zheludok in 1890. During 1908-1912 he studied at Vilno Artistic School where he made friends with H. Sutin and M. Kikoin. In 1912 P. Kremen having no money in his pocket illegally crossed the border and got to Paris through the territory of Germany.  There he got settled in the international hostel of artists "Hive" (French variant La Ruche). There he met his friends and made friends with new people: A.Modilyani, M.Shagala, A.Derena, F.Lege etc. Alongside with Sutin and Kikoin he learned in the National School of Fine Arts at F. Kormon; In 1914 he presented his sculptures at "the Salon des Independents" From 1915 he was engaged in nothing but painting: he painted landscapes, portraits, still-life paintings in the stream of "moderate" expressionism.  Two topics prevail in works created by the painter: still life and landscapes. And the best period of his artistic work was 1916-1920. During the First World War he lived in Paris.   During that period his paintings became interesting for Paris collectors (Paul Guillaume, Leopold Zborovskiy).  In 1918 he settled down in Serres. He often came to Paris. During 1920-s he travelled a lot (Corsica, Sweden).   The period of the Second World War he spent in the south of France in the Correz department. He was a hired worker in a village. His personal exhibitions took place in Paris, London, Philadelphia, Lausanne, Geneva, and Cannes. In 2005 his several works were exhibited in Moscow, in 2010 they were also presented in Minsk at the exhibition "Artists of the Paris School, Natives of Belarus".  P. Kremen died in 1981. He was buried in Paris at Montparnasse cemetery.

Zheludok is the birth place of scientist ornithologist Konstantin Tyzengauz (1786-1853),

participant of revolutionary movement in Belarus and France Valeriy Vrublevskiy (1836-1908), Belorussian actress Olga Vladimirovna Alexandrovskaya (1899-1980).

MUSEUMS ARCHIVES LIBRARIES PRIVATE COLLECTIONSDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

The settlement has a state library with a collection of local history literature.  The library is situated in the building of the settlement council. The settlement hasn't got a museum of private collections.

TOURISTIC INFRASTRUCTUREDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

The urban-type settlement Zheludok may be reached on the highway  Grodno – Skidel – Shuchin – Zheludol by bus Grodno – Novogrudok. The settlement has an agrarian farm called "Bobrovaya Hata" where you can find lodging and nutrition.

In August (the third Saturday of the month) a festival of flowers takes place in the settlement ("A beautiful Land Island").  On your way from Grodno you can visit such settlements as Shuchin (with its Drutskiye-Liubetskiye's castle, St. Tereza RC church, Piar Order Monastery, a partially preserved Jewish cemetery, a monument at the place where Jewish people were shot by Hitlerites, a former Soviet airdrome), Kamenka (a Jewish cemetery is preserved), Orlia (Jewish cemetery on the bank of Neman river is preserved), a church of the defensive type of the 16th century in village Murovanka (Malo-Mozheykovo). 

REFERENCESDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

1.      Полный список населенных мест со статистическими данными о каждом поселении. Виленская губерния. – Вильно, 1905.

2.      Корева А. Материалы для географии и статистики России. Виленская губерния. –СПб., 1861. – С. 389, 385, 518.

3.       Российская еврейская энциклопедия. Т. 4. – М., 2000. – С. 443.

4.      Смиловицкий Л.Катастрофа евреев в Белоруссии, 1941-1944 гг. Тель-Авив, 2000  //

5.       Памяць: Гіст.-дакум. хроніка Шчучынскага раёна. – Мінск: БелЭн, 2001.

Пивоварчик С.А. Желудок // Холокост на территории СССР: Энциклопедия. – М.: Российская политическая энциклопедия (РОССПЭН): Научно-просветительский центр “Холокост”, 2011. – С. 307-308.
Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego. T. XІV. – Warszawa, 1895. – S. 827.
Желудок: память о еврейском местечке / Отв. ред. И. Копчёнова. – М., 2013. – 238 с.
НИАБ г. Гродно. – Ф. 669. – Оп. 5.  – Акты обследования семейств лиц, призванных в армию и выдача им пособия по Желудоскской волости. 1914 г.
Литовский государственный исторический архив.  – Ф. 378, общий отдел, 1866 г. – Дело 1783. – Дело о доставлении сведений о пропинационных сборах, существующих по некоторым городам и местечкам Северо-Западного края.
ЛГИА. – Ф. 378, общий отдел, 1880 г. – Д. 869. – Дело по отзыву Министра внутренних дел по вопросу о поселениях, носящих название местечек в Северо-Западном крае.
ЛГИА. – Ф. 378, общий отдел, 1865 г. – Д. 1769. – Дело о разрешении на постройку синагог в Северо-Западном крае.
13.  ЛГИА. – Ф. 381.  – Оп. 17.  – D. 1274. – Выборы членов правлений Желудокских еврейских молитвенных школ. 1892 г.

14.  ЛГИА. – Ф. 381. – Оп. 17. – D. 1584. – Выборы членов правлений двух Желудокских еврейских молитвенных школ. 1896 г.

ЛГИА. – Ф. 381. – Оп. 17. – D. 1963. – Выборы членов правлений Желудокской еврейской молитвенной школы. 1902 г.
ЛГИА. – Ф. 381. – Оп. 19. – D. 5587. – Утверждение раскладки на сбор денег с мещан Желудокского мещанского общества. 1896 г.
ЛГИА. – Ф. 382. – Оп. 1. – D. 2005. – Прошение евреев м. Желудок о разрешении постройки молитвенного дома. 1899-1909 гг.
ЛГИА. – Ф. 382. – Оп. 11. – Д. 760. – По рапорту Лидского уездного исправника о командировании техника 

В середине XVI в.


Author: Irina Milinkevich