About Jewish Dokshitsy
An overview of Dokshitsy geography and history
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Dokshitsy is located in Belarus, about 68 miles northeast of Minsk, the capital. Nearby Parafianov is 12 km from Dokshitsy . Parafianov is where the railroad station was, and it was the smaller of the two towns. Nearby villages with Jewish inhabitants included Voznvoshchina, Uskrom'ye, Karolina and Krulevschizna. Parfianov used the Dokshitsy cemetery according to two sources, Shmuel Rozov and Nikolai Chistakov. In all probability Voznvoshchina, a small settlement near Parfianov also did. Uksrom'ye (Vuskramje) and Karolina are near Bgoml (Biahomi) which is in the Dokshitsy District. There may have been other villages with nearby inhabitants. Here is a map from mapquest (Zoom out as needed). Uskrom'ye and Karolina may be found by shifting the map to the east, and zooming in slightly. Lepel (Lepiel) is the next major town to the east, and Glubokie (Hlybokaje) is to the north.
Using the googlemap, you can zoom in and out, and drag the map. Large cites nearby include Vilna (Vilnius), Borisov (Barisau), and Minsk. Most of the towns on the map were shetls with Jewish communities. It was not unusual for match making to extend to nearby localities, so many Dokshitsy descendants might also have Glubokie, Dolhinev, and Ilya roots.
HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY What country is Dokshitsy in? The answer depends on the date. After the Kingdom of Poland was partitioned in the 18th century, it became part of Russia. During WWI, Germany occupied Dokshitsy. At the end of WWI, it was caught up in the post-war turmoil in eastern Europe, eventually becoming part of The Republic of Poland in 1920 after the Russo-Polish war in that year. Between the World Wars it was part of Poland. Dokshitz was part of the Soviet Union after the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939. After the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany on June 22, 1941, it was part of the territories occupied and decimated by Nazi Germany. After the Germans retreated in 1944, it again became part of the Soviet Union. Since the demise of the USSR, it is now in Belarus.
History We can learn a little about the history from the Encyclopedia Judaica, the Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, and from the Dokshitz-Parafianov Yizkor Book. Although the date when the town was founded is unknown, it has existed since the early 16th century. It was burned during the Swedish Wars in 1708. By 1766 there were 210 Jews (it is unclear whether this was the number of people or the number of taxpayers.). The Jewish population increased to about 2800 in the late 19th century, and as many as 3000 by 1925. According to these sources, Jews were 49% of the population in 75% in 1897. Economically, in earlier periods they appeared to have leased fields and been involved in lumber, grain, flax and fur. As the 19th progressed they were engaged in crafts (this may refer to piece work for the garment industry.). After WW I economic conditions worsened. This may have been partly due to borders being much more fixed (Dokshitsy was near the border to the Soviet Union.). The Great Depression also affected economic life. There was a full range of Jewish activities between the wars. The Yizkor book is a good source of information. There was also a brewery.
Here is the history of the brewery by Slawek Jedrzejewski of Warsaw.
The brewery was founded about 1887 - 1889, the first owner was Szlejfer
( Schleifer). In 1909 the brewery was owned by Ch. Gordon and annual receipts from beer was 6,908 rubles. It was one of the smallest breweries in the
Minsk district. In 1910 6 workers were employed at the brewery. Annual volume of brewed beer were 18 000 buckets ( 1 bucket of beer = 12, 29 l. - it was a cubic
measure in the Russian Empire before 1914). The owners of the brewery
were brothers Gordon. In 1914 there were 3 workers in the brewery and annuall receipts were 10 000 rubles. Brothers Chaim, Josal and Gersz Gordon were the owners.
The brewery didn't exist during the War I. I think, that the brewery
restarted in the middle of 20 -ies. The owners of the brewery between
1926 - 1930 were brothers Gordon . In 1931 it was Jakub Gordon. The
annual volume of brewed beer were only 2 000 hectolitres in 1930 - it
was one of the smallest breweriers in Poland. The brewery has changed its name since 1937 for Gambrinus Brewery. I think, that the Gordon family was still the owner. The brewery was closed probably about 1940.
JEWISH EMIGRATION Many Jewish residents of Dokshitsy left in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, mainly for the United States. Part of the impetus for this was the Russian draft. The Russian army was not friendly towards Jews. Russia was clearly a country in turmoil. Many of the residents of small towns would have moved to larger cities as part of Russia's modernization. For Jews from Dokshitsy, as from many other areas, and for other nationalities, it made just as much sense to leave the country entirely and to move an ocean's breadth away from the turbulent and inhospitable early twentieth-century Russia. In the United States, many immigrants settled where their landsleut went. In the case of the Dokshitsy area, in addition to New York City(Brooklyn), we find groups in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Newport, RI, Waterbury, Ct, eastern Connecticut, Cleveland, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee. Jews also went to England, South Africa, and Australia. They also went to parts of the Soviet Union including Russia and the Ukraine. And Dokshitzers moved to towns near and far.
HOLOCAUST A horrible fate awaited most of those who remained in Dokshitsy and Parafianov. After the Germans invaded in June, 1941, the Jews were terrorized. In Dokshitsy they confined to densely-populated Ghetto in September, 1941 with inadequate food. IDuring Passover, 1942, 65 Jews were killed from the Dokshitsy Ghetto. A month later, 300. On Log B'Omer (May), 1942, approximately half of the 2800 remaining residents were marched to a pit across the street from the cemetery and shot. The remaining half were killed a few weeks later. (There are some slight contradictions in the sources about the exact sequence of events.) In Parafianov the Jews were killed in late May and buried in a mass grave near the railroad station according to the Yizkor book. About 97% of the Jewish residents on the day of the German invasion were killed.
You may read about the holocaust in Dokshitz and about life between the world wars in the The Dokshitz-Parafianov Yizkor Book English translation. The English translation has been placed on line by Jewishgen.org. Read the original Hebrew-Yiddish version at the New York Public Library's site. Purchase a copy of the original Hebrew and Yiddish Yizkor book from the by e-mailing National Yiddish Book Center. or calling 413-256-4900 x196.
Look at the list of names of the victims at the end of the book. Many of them are your relatives. Visit Yad VaShem's Pages of Testimony. For Dokshitsy, type "Dokshitsy," for Parafianov type "Parafianova", or for B'gomel type "Begoml" in the location field. Leave the other fields blank, and you will get a list of 682 names for Dokshitsy 103 names for Parafianov and 81 for B'gomel. Some of the listings are duplicates. For most of the 3500 Jewish martyrs of Dokshitsy, Parafianov, and nearby villages, there is no Page of Testimony. And yet, in the words of the poet, "To every person, there is a name."
AFTER WW II Some of the survivors returned to Dokshitsy to look for family members. Although most left a few remained as late as the mid-1990s. In 1964, the Soviet Union passed a law enabling the government to take control of all property that had been abandoned. This affected many cemeteries, both Jewish and non-Jewish. In Dokshitsy the cemetery was turned into a public park. At almost the same time, in 1965, at the urging of the Jews in Dokshitsy and elsewhere, a large Soviet style Holocaust memorial was erected. The monument did not mention Jews or the Holocaust. In 2008, the destroyed cemetery was restored. Learn about how descendants came together to accomplish this with the help of the Dokshitsy District.
RESEARCHING YOUR GENEALOGY Jewishgen.org hosts the Dokshitz Shetlinks Page. Visit it to learn more about life in these towns. At Jewishgen.org you may look for other people researching family members and or towns of origin. There is an easy registration process. If you search, always use the "sounds like" option, because there is no correct way to spell names of people or places. Joel Alpert created the Shetlinks site, and also arranged for the posting of the English translation of the Yizkor book, which is written in Hebrew and Yiddish. Submit your family's story to this site. As more stories are submitted, the chance of reuniting families increases. Need more help? Just send a message.