The first mention about Orsha in written sources ("Povest vremennich let!") is the 10th of  July, 1067. In 1116 prince Viacheslav, son of Kiev ruler  Vladimir Monomakh occupied Orsha and Kopys.
Since the first half of XIV century - Orsha was in the squad of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1394  in Orsha was created a  namesnitsva (region)  under the control of Lithuanian duke Vitaut. In 1501 Moscow  troops occupied Orsha, but in the result of peca treaty  a miastechka (Yiddish - shtetl) remained ih the squad  of the Grand Duchy. The Russians repeated their invasion in Orsha in  1534, 1535, 1563. In 1580 Lithuanian Chancellor Leu Sapega opened in Orsha a church of the Jesus Order (24 years later - their collegium). In 1581, during Livonian war between Rech Pospolitaya (the union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Polish kingdom, formed  in 1569) and Moscow Orsha was occupied by the troops of  bloody Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible Orsha was destroyed.
Jews lived in Orsha since the first quater o f XVI century. In 1623 Lithuanian Vaad ( a council of  great lithuanian rabbis and community leaders) put Orsha Jewry under the control of Brest kagal (jewish community).
In XVII century Orsha had about 5.000 inhabitants. Orsha had a great level of trade and handicraft.  Shtetl had commercial relations  with Moscow, Poland, Baltic coast, the  Ukraine and others.
In 30-50 years of XVII century famous belarussian Spiridon Sobal organized a printer`s in Orsha.
Orsha suffered great during the war of  1654-67  between Rech Pospolitaya of Jan-Kazimir and Moscow of Alexey Mukhailovich.  After Alexey Mikhailovich army  occupation Orsha was almost empty.  In September of 1708,   the troops of Russian tsar  Peter the Great burnt Orsha.
In 1764 Polish sejm (parlament) decided to carry out a jewish census. The results of this census for Orsha was - more then 368 jews.
Since the 5th of August, 1772, Orsha become a part of Belarus (later - Mogilev) gubernia of  Russian Empire.  10.863 jews lived in  Orsha region in 1774.
In 1802 famous russian chemist,  member of St - Petersburg academy of science,  Vasiliy Mikhailovich Severgin (1765-1826) made  a description about his journey  to the Western part of Russia  Belarus.  He wrote: "Jews are the main Orsha merchants".  Severgin was right. According to the "Okladnie knigi" ("The book of taxes")  of 1803 Orsha had only  5 Christian merchants, but  -  56 jewish.
In 1812, during the war between France and Russia, French troops occupied Orsha on the 6th of July.
In 1825 Orsha had 2.158 inhabitants, 29 stores, 29 pubs (in Belarussian - piteyny dom) and so on.
The results of the 1847 revision for Orsha uezd were:


A telegraph office was buit  in Orsha 1869, two years later (on the 16th of November, 1871) began to work a railway Smolensk-Orsha-Minsk-Brest.
In 1878 jewish community of Orsha opened a female school, .
Since the 31st of February, 1883,  had a alcohol plant.
The results of the famous Russian census of 1897 for Orsha uezd were:

All population
Jewish population

In 1897 Orsha uezd had about 187.000 inhabitants (22.874 of  them - jews).

In the end of XIX century Orsha had  a wharf and several plants:  rope-cord, leather, beer and others.  Orsha Jewry took an active party in the shtetl`s trade and  fair. They were known as a very good tailors, shoe-makers and so on.  A great help to Orsha economy were the railway lines  Moscow-Brest and Vitebsk-Zhlobin with the station in shtetl.   Shtetl`s amount was about 19.000 roubles per year.
In the beginning of XX century in Orsha were 3 orthodox churches, a catholic church, a synagogue and 10 jewish prayer houses.
During the first  Russian revolution (1905-07)  in April-May Bund (The Union of jewish workers in Lithuania, Poland and Russia) and  Russian Socialist-Democratic Working  Party (RSDWP) organized a strike of agricultural workers in April-May of 1905.  After the announcement of Tsar`s manifest  from the 17th of October (the creation of Parlament ("Duma"))  ftom the 21st  till  the 24th of October local supporters of Russian "Chernaya sotnya" ("Black hundred" - Strong Russian Nationalists ) with the help of Orsha authorities and police organized a jewish pogrom. Jewish workers of Orsha, Shklov (Shklou), Dubrovna (Dubrouna)  fought with them. During the pogrom more then 30 jews were killed, a lot of people  - wounded. Jewish houses and shops were smashed.  But it wasn`s the end of jewish life. Four years later Orsha Jewry opened a  department of Jewish national sport movement "Maccabi".
From  the 10th of July, 1915 till  the middle of 1918 Orsha had her own every-day newspaper "Orshanskiy vestnik" ("Orsha vestnik", in Russian). The editor and publisher of this newpaper was Ch.M. Ioselevich (in 1898 he opened a printer`s in shtetl). "Orshanskiy vestnik" published  official information, local news and so on. In 1917 Ioselevich and his newspaper supported Zionist movement, later -  the party of  Bund.
During the  World War I German troops  occupied Orsha from February, 1917, till August, 1918.  According to the Riga  treaty of March, 1921 Orsha become a part of Soviet Russia (since 1924 -  in the squad of Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic, since 1930 -  as the center of akruga (region).
Here the results of the censuses in Orsha of 1917, 1921, 1924 and 1927

All population 
Jewish population
1927     25.579          -

On the 22nd of June, Nazi Germany invaded Soviet Union. Orsha was  occupied  on the 16th of July. After the occupation German command ordered  all inhabitants to register. The Germans wanted to know their date of birth, nationality and profession.  Jews were separated from other people. The fascists  used  them  on the most difficult works. A  ghetto  in Orsha (situated, from Engels street till Narodnaya street and Polish cemetery) was organized on the 16th of September, 1941. This time, Engels street hadn`t more then 25 (39) houses .  jews. The ghetto was surrounded by the barbed wire.
The Germans created a "Judenrat" . A head of  "Judenrat" was former book-keeper of "Soyuzzagotkozh" and "Soyuzpushnina"  Kazhdan. The leaders of the  jewish communities were Katsnelson and Kantor.
First of all, the Germans odered jews to pay a special contribution - 250.000 roubles. Half of this sum -  gold, silver, jewelry and so on. 250.000 roibles were  departured to Berlin.
The conditions in ghetto were awful. Orsha  electrician  I.S. Gladkov remembered: "My neghbours Bluma Pevzner and her family told me, that in the night german soldiers had bursted in her house, plundered and raped".  The fascists gave jewish people  10-15 g. of  flour ans several potatoes per day (unregulary).  The result of  the  narrowness, hunger and  insanitary in ghetto  was a typhus epidemic. Of course, the fascists dindn`t give ghetto prisoners any kind of medical help. The level of death and suicides was very big.  For examlpe,  20 people met in the carpenter`s Ele Goffstein house on the Pushkin street. They overed a house by the gasoline and burnt it.
The Germans and their local supporters mocked at ghetto prisoners. THey said that jews would be departured  to Palestine.
 On the 26th of October 1941 the fascists destroyed a  ghetto on the  Engels street. About 3.000 jews were shooted. On the 26 - 27th of November, 1941, another part of   Orsha jews were shooted at  the  Jewish cemetery by SS soldiers and their local supporters (called in sources as  "Russian police"). On the 26-27th of November, 1941, more then 4.000  jews were killed in Orsha. Other ghetto priosners were dispached to the station of  Orsha-Zapadnaya (Orsha-Western), plunged into  the freight vagons. They were kiled by poisoned water.
Since 1942  the Germans shooted in the Jewish cemetery children from mixed marriages and jews, survived in 1941. Since the Autum, 1943, according to the reich-furrer SS Gimmler`s  order Red Army  War prisoners dag a pits in  the territory of the Jewish cemetery, where germans had shooted in 1941. The Germans burnt corpses. War prisoners, when they  had ended their work, were shooted.
The last part of Orsha Jewry (only 30 families of tailors, shoe-makers, watch-makers) was used by the Germans till 1944. And after with - shooted.
On the 27th of June, 1944,  the Red Army (the 3rd  Belarussian and the 1st Baltic fronts) liberated Orsha during the " Vitebsk-Orsha" special operation.
According to the data of Special Soviet  commission ( September, 1944) in Orsha were killed about 4.800 jews (according to the other sources - 5000-6000) jews.
On the 30th of January, 1946, 14.30,  in Minsk were executed 14 main  War criminals. Between them was captain Paul Aik, a deputy of Orsha commandant fon Ashenberg.

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