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The violence begins

Word spread to the town that an attack was coming and a self-defense force, or Zelbshuts, was organized. Seventy-five men enlisted and money was collected to purchase weapons from the non-Jews in the town. Hirsh Turi, a successful 30-year-old merchant who was decorated for his service in the army, was the leader. Events began on December 6, 1919, which was the eve of Hanukkah. A band of men, all on horseback, appeared outside Tetiev led by a former Russian officer named Shmarkatiuk, a native Tetiever. The band was made up of peasants from Kaspirovke, Skubinits and other nearby villages. The...

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The pogroms in Tetiev

MONTHS OF VIOLENCE LEAD UP TO THE FINAL POGROM Most of the Jews in Tetiev and across the Ukrainian countryside were merchants or shopkeepers of some kind; some were artisans. Beatrice Klausner Gray, whose grandfather immigrated from Tetiev, says wryly that many of the Tetiever Jews were “coopers or horse thieves.” Tetiev did not have any wealthy men and life was generally quiet, with no pogroms, until the end of 1918 when the Directory government took over in a divided Ukraine and began to fight the Bolsheviks. Tetiev is mentioned in several histories of pogroms in the Ukraine during...

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The Jews of Tetiev

(L to R) Sam Spike and his cousin, Ben Zake. The Spike family took in Ben’s father, Yone Zake, when he immigrated to Cleveland from Tetiev, Russia in 1910. The Spikes lived at 2740 Orange Ave., near where the downtown Cleveland Post Office is now located. When Jacob Zaiko climbed aboard the RMS Empress of France ocean liner May 30, 1922 in Hamburg he was fleeing the hardship and terror experienced by many of the Jews of Tetiev, Russia. Two years earlier in April, many of the 1400 Jewish families in the village, located about 100 kilometers southwest of Kiev, were slaughtered by...

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