Information about Dolha

Dolha (Czech, Dovhoje, Russian, Dolgoje), a town in sub-Carpathian Ruthenia (Ukranian USSR),is situated on the banks of the Borzshavp river. Like many Czech areas besieged by two wars, Dolha underwent several territorial apportionments. Until 1918 it belonged to Austro-Hungary and was later annexed to Czechoslovakia until 1939. From 1939-1945 it was re-annexed to Hungary and, after World War II it became a part of the Soviet Union and now it is in the Ukraine.

Because Dolha served as a crossroad for the smaller villages nearby and branched out in three directions toward the cities of Chust Beregszasz and SvaljAva, Dolha became significant to the local population in its early development because it yielded access to these cities.

There are no official documents reflecting the history of Jewish settlements in Dolha, but clues can be obtained from writings on cemetery gravestones, which bear witness to the fact that first Jews who settled in Dolha came from Galicia around 1820. One clue sheds light upon the existence of Moshe Kerschenbaum, the son-in-law of Benyumen Kerschenbaum, so called Benjumen of Trosnoy, who already lived close to the entrance of the village Sucha-Bronka. Moshe Kerschenbaum settled in Dolha as a small-scale farmer. By 1860 there were several Jewish families living in Dolha. When property ownership was in the hands of the Schonborns, a family of "nobility" the Jewish population increased and Jews were required to pay taxes and levies. Until the and of the 19th century, births, marriages, and deaths were recorded and maintained in the County of Chust however, Jewish marriages, performed by Rabbis, were not officially recorded in most cases.

Around 1880 a synagogue was built in Dolha, and the first Rabbi who led the community for 60 years (until 1944) was the highly-respected Rav Usher Zelig Grunzweig. He was reputed to be a humble man of great spiritual zeal and love for humanity. Rav Grunzweig maintained a small Yeshivah of students and kept his house open to all in need.

When Jews settled in Dolha, and the first Rabbi who led the community for 60 years until 1944, was a the highly repected Rav Usher Zelig Grunzweig. He was reputed to be a humble man of great spiritual zeal and love for humanity. Rav Usher Zelig Grunzweig maintained a small Yeshiva of students and kept his house opened to all those in need.

When Jews settled in Dolha, they were engaged in small-scale farming and later opened small shops to serve the needs of the local gentile inhabitants. The rich forests surrounding Dolha enabled Jews to work as lumber contractors for the railroad industry, which manufactured lumber for railroad tracks. Later a small lumber factory was built in Dolha where the cutting of oak trees was performed.

Between the two world wars, Dolha had two elementary schools a Ruthenian and Czech. Jewish families did not send their sons to these secular schools, instead they enrolled them Cheder to pursue religious studies.

In 1939, the entire population of Dolha was approx. 4,000 of which about 110 families were Jewish. During the Czech regime, Jews were engaged in small business ventures and in trades to serve the needs of the local population. But when Dolha was re-annexed to Hungarian rule in 1939, Jews were forbidden to pursue their occupation, businesses and shops were confiscated without compensation. Anti-Jewish laws were implemented by the Hungarians and Jews (males) were sent into labor camps.

On April 29, 1944 Hungarian gendarmes forced the entire Jewish population of Dolha out of their homes and shipped them to the ghetto in Beregszasz, clustered together with others in a brick factory. Conditions were indeed indescribable, sanitation was poor and food was scarce. Then on May 15th the entire ghetto was led like sheeps by armed Hungarian gendarmes, who packed them into cattle wagons and locked them in. At that time the Jews were unaware of the existence of the Aushwitz concentration camp and crematorium, to which they were taken after a three-day journey under indescribably inhumane conditions. By May 18, 1944, the entire Dolha community, except those destined to work had perished in Aushwitz.

After World War II a small number of survivors returned to Dolha to establish new homes under Soviet rule. Until 1975 a few Jewish families remained there, but as of today, not a solitary Jew dwells in this erstwhile-thriving Jewish town.

All Dolha survivors are now living abroad, primarily in Israel and in the United States. The only Jewish remnant of Dolha is, the Jewish cemetery, which still remains intact.

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