Letychiv is a town
Urban-type settlement
Urban-type settlement ; , selyshche mis'koho typu ) is an official designation for a type of locality used in some of the countries of the former Soviet Union...

 in the eastern part of Khmelnytskyi Oblast
Khmelnytskyi Oblast
Khmelnytskyi Oblast is an oblast of western Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Khmelnytskyi.The current estimated population is around 1,401,140 .-Geography:...

Oblast is a type of administrative division in Slavic countries, including some countries of the former Soviet Union. The word "oblast" is a loanword in English, but it is nevertheless often translated as "area", "zone", "province", or "region"...

) of western Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. 51 km from Khmelnytskyi
Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Khmelnytskyi is a city in Ukraine in the region of Podillia. It is located on the Southern Buh River and about from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The town's original name was Płoskirów, later Proskurov, but in 1954 was renamed Khmelnytskyi. It is the center of the Khmelnytskyi Oblast in western...

 and 33 km from the railway station Derazhnya. Administrative center since Tsarist times, formerly in Podolia
The region of Podolia is an historical region in the west-central and south-west portions of present-day Ukraine, corresponding to Khmelnytskyi Oblast and Vinnytsia Oblast. Northern Transnistria, in Moldova, is also a part of Podolia...

 Province. Population: 11,081 inhabitants (2001 census
Ukrainian Census (2001)
The first Ukrainian Census was carried out by State Statistics Committee of Ukraine on 5 December 2001, twelve years after the last Soviet Union census in 1989....

). There are brickworks, dairy, plant of construction material in the town. Located 49°23'N, 27°37'E on the main road between Khmelnitsky
Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Khmelnytskyi is a city in Ukraine in the region of Podillia. It is located on the Southern Buh River and about from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The town's original name was Płoskirów, later Proskurov, but in 1954 was renamed Khmelnytskyi. It is the center of the Khmelnytskyi Oblast in western...

 and Vinnitsa at the confluence of the Volk and the Southern Bug rivers.


Founded in 1362. First historical mention is in connection with the Tatar invasions dates to 1411. It is mentioned first as a palisade fortress, then under Magdeburg law as a settlement in 1429. Even with natural moats on all sides, Letichev did not have the topographic relief that blesses other Podilia Province strongholds (such as Medzhibozh or Kamenets Podilsky). Thus, Letychiv was more easily attacked and harder to defend. Because of this, until Tsarist times Letychiv played a subordinate role to nearby Medzhibozh.

Dominican friars brought an icon of Mary, mother of Jesus to Letychiv in the late 15th century. Letychiv suffered attacks by the Tatars in 1453, 1516, 1558, and 1567. In 1546, the first Assumption church was built. In 1569, Stephan Batory
Stefan Batory
Stephen Báthory was a Hungarian noble Prince of Transylvania , then King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania . He was a member of the Somlyó branch of the noble Hungarian Báthory family...

 presented Letychiv with its first coat of arms. It shows a wolf, representing the river Volk.

In 1598 Jan Potocki
Jan Potocki
Count Jan Nepomucen Potocki was a Polish nobleman, Polish Army Captain of Engineers, ethnologist, Egyptologist, linguist, traveler, adventurer and popular author of the Enlightenment period, whose life and exploits made him a legendary figure in his homeland...

 replaced the town's weaker wooden fortifications with extensive stone fortifications, known as Letychiv Fortress
Letychiv Fortress
Letychiv Fortress is a complex of limestone walls built in 1598 by Jan Potocki to defend Podolia from the regular raids of the Crimean Tatars. The north-western tower, the eastern wall and parts of the southern wall still stand in the town of Letychiv, Ukraine. The most prominent feature on the...

. Very little of these survive today, with the exception of one tower and the adjacent walls around the Assumption Church (rebuilt by Potocki in 1605).

Letychiv suffered deprivations from Bogdan Khmelnitsky's
Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych Khmelnytsky was a hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanate of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state...

 cossack uprising in 1648. During this time, Letychiv's icon was removed from the Assumption Church for safekeeping in Lviv. Weakened by the cossack uprising, Podilia was invaded and occupied by Turkey in 1672. Letychiv became part of the Turkish Ejalet of Kamieniecki. In 1682, Letychiv was recaptured by the Poles under Jan Sobiesky. However, Poles didn't regain full control until 1699 because the town was frequently ravaged by ongoing struggles between the Poles and Turks. The icon was returned to Letychiv in 1723. In 1778, Pope Clement XIV ordered that a special crown from Rome be installed on the icon. Letychiv continued to be attacked by cossacks and Haidamaks in 1702, 1734, 1737, 1749, 1750, 1755, 1768, and 1777.

In 18th century, Letychiv had grown to be the second largest town in Podilia, Medzhibozh being the largest. The first Jews in Letychiv are reported in stories within Shivhei haBesht (stories about the Baal Shem Tov) that probably date from about 1750. By the 1780s there were approximately 800 Jews living in the town. Letychiv passed into Russian hands during the second partition of Poland
Second Partition of Poland
The 1793 Second Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the second of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. The second partition occurred in the aftermath of the War in Defense of the Constitution and the Targowica Confederation of 1792...

 in 1792. At that time, the Tsarist administrative center of this region moved from Medzhibozh to Letychiv. The population soon exploded and reached its peak in the late 19th century. Approximately 4,100 Jews lived here in 1897, about 60% of the population. In 1882 Letichiv was the scene of a notorious pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 against Jews that resulted in a sensational trial of the pogromists.

After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, the territory was occupied by German and Hungarian troops until the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Letychev was the scene of numerous pogroms during the Ukrainian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 of 1919-1922. The town changed hands many times as different militia units from either the Bolsheviks, Ukrainian Nationalists, Poles, or Whites gained temporary control. What little wealth was left was stripped in these pogroms turning the entire area into ruins.

Under Soviet rule starting 1922, the region's economy improved. Electricity, schools, roads and other infrastructure were built. Several kolkhoz
A kolkhoz , plural kolkhozy, was a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state farms . The word is a contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, or "collective farm", while sovkhoz is a contraction of советское хозяйство...

i (collective farms) were established nearby. In the early 1930s, pressure from the government to collectivize resulted in severe food shortages that resulted in famines throughout Ukraine.

In World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Letichiv fell to Nazi forces during Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 on July 17, 1941 after heavy fighting. In that action, retreating Soviet troop blew up the dam over the river Volk over which carried the main east-west road. This temporarily stopped the Nazi advance for nine days until the position could be outflanked from the south. It remained in Nazi hands until it was liberated by Soviet troops on March 23, 1944.

Letychiv was astride an important east-west supply road that the Nazis wanted to expand into an autobahn-like highway. This road led directly between the city of Proskuriv and routes westward into Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and the city of Vinnytsa with routes to the eastern front. Vinnytsa was the site of Hitler's
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 headquarters bunker in Soviet territory where he personally directed the war between 1942 and 1943.

A Jewish ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

 and a separate slave labor camp within Letychiv Castle was established in Letychiv to assist Organisation Todt in providing human labor for the road building project. Because of this special road project, Letychiv retained its Jews longer than most of the surrounding communities, where Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

 units executed entire populations of Jews shortly after Nazi occupation. However, when the road project was completed in the summer of 1942, the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

 units were called in. Three separate mass shootings of Jews occurred in September 1942 where 3,000 Jews were killed (half the ghetto), in November 1942 where 4,000 Jews were killed (the remainder of the ghetto), and in November 1943 where the remaining 200 Jews in the slave labor camp were shot. That eliminated all Jews from the town. Soviet authorities reported that a total of 7,200 Jews were murdered in a ravine in Zaletichevka, just south of town.

Famous people

  • Ustym Karmаliuk (1787–1835), a notorious thief and gang leader, is considered a Ukrainian Robin Hood
    Robin Hood
    Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

     and folk hero. He principally robbed from rich nobles and distributed the wealth to peasants. He is buried in the Letychiv Cemetery. A statue to his memory is located there.
  • Morris Zimmerman
    Morris Zimmerman
    Morris Zimmerman was an important craftsman, merchant and businessman in Baltimore, Md. He founded Howard Luggage Company, a landmark Maryland business closed in 2007 after 93 years...

     (1876–1959), immigrated to the US from Letychiv in 1903 and became an important craftsman, merchant and businessman in Baltimore, Md.
  • Oscar Williams
    Oscar Williams
    Oscar Williams was an American anthologist and poet. Oscar Williams was his pen name.-Life:He was born Oscar Kaplan in Letychiv, Ukraine, son of Jewish parents Mouzya Kaplan and Chana Rapoport...

     (1900–1964), a noted American poet, was born in Letychiv to Jewish parents.
  • Rabbi Samuel M. Blumenfield (1901–1972), a noted American rabbi, was born in Letychiv and immigrated to the US in 1919.
  • Joseph "Doc" Stacher
    Joseph Stacher
    Joseph "Doc" Stacher was a Jewish syndicate leader who helped bring together the Jewish and Italian Mafia into a national organized crime syndicate....

     (1902–1977), from the Letychiv Oystacher family, was a notorious Jewish crime boss who immigrated to the U.S. and later to Israel. He had close connections with the Jewish Mafia of Meyer Lansky
    Meyer Lansky
    Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

     and Bugsy Siegel
    Bugsy Siegel
    Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was an American gangster who was involved with the Genovese crime family...

     (whose parents Max Siegel and Jennie Goldstein Siegel came from Letychiv).
  • David H. Kurtzman, Ph.D. (1904–1977), a noted American academician, immigrated from Letychiv in 1921.
  • Mitchell S. Gordon (1911–1982), born in Letychiv son of Samuel and Susan Goldstein, his father was killed in Russia during the revolution. Immigrated to the US in the 1920s. He received his Doctorate in Optometry and was instrumental in the development of plastic artificial eyes. In the late 1950s he began new careers as a comedian, hypnotist, graphologist, journalist, stage and screen actor, magician, musician, artist and a characterist. He went under the names of Farouk, 'Doc', Mitchell, and Mizgor Mitchell. He appeared with Jerry Lewis
    Jerry Lewis
    Jerry Lewis is an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is best known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the famed comedy team of Martin and Lewis...

     and Henny Youngman
    Henny Youngman
    Henry "Henny" Youngman was a British-born American comedian and violinist famous for "one-liners", short, simple jokes usually delivered rapid-fire...

  • Naum Davydovych Morgulis, Ph.D. (1904–1976), born in Letychiv, he was a noted Ukrainian physicist and electrical engineer. He founded and chaired the department of electophysics and physical electronics at Institute of Physics in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev
    Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

    . Was known for his research into cathode
    A cathode is an electrode through which electric current flows out of a polarized electrical device. Mnemonic: CCD .Cathode polarity is not always negative...

    s and photocells. He was a mentor to a large number of Ukrainian and Russian physicists and academians.

External links

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