Vetka, today - a center of Vetka region,
a pier on the river Sozh, situated 22 km from Gomel. In 1992 Vetka
had 9.000 inhabitamts.
Vetka was found in 1685 (or 1682) by the starovers (russian orthodox, the opponents of patriarch Nikon church reform) in posession of Mazyr voevoda Khaletski, near the small city (Belarussian - miastechka or shtetl - Yiddish) of Khalch. Since 18th century Vetka was a real staraver`s center.
In 1735 Russian troops invaded Vetka with the expedition against starovers. The city was burnt off. 14.000 starovewrs were deported to Russia. In 1764 Russia of Ekatherina II repeated the expedition. Russian troop burnt Vetka.
1772 - is a date of final Russian occupation of Vetka. Since 1784 Vetka became a part of Belitsa, 1852 - Gomel uezd. This time Stanevich family was known as an owner of Vetka.
In 1880 Vetka had 5.982 inhabitants (42.6% of them - jews), 11 stone and 994 wooden buildings, 6 rope plants and 6 wind mills, 4 forges, 4 stone and 120 wooden shops. The fairs were in Vetka twice a year. Jewish community of Vetka had 6 prayer houses and the union, which helped the poors. In 1897 the population of Vetka was 7.200 inhabitants. The main occupations of Vetka Jewry were small trade and handicraft (tailors, joiners and others). Jews took an active part in wooden trade . They used Vetka wharf for their business.
The Union of jewish workers in Lithuania, Russia and Poland (Bund) was very popular ub Vetka in the beginning of the 20th century. According to the materials of Mogilev zhandarmerija (police) in 1903 jewish youth opened in Vetka a club for spread in social-democratic ideas. On the 1st of March, 1903, they organized a meeting in honour of russian emperor Alexander II death, also they celebrated the1st of May and others. The leadership of Bund supposed that Vetka, as Lodz, Smargon, Gomel and Vilana are the main revolutionary centers in Belarus and Poland.
In 1909 Vetka had 10.300 inhabitants (7.300 - jews). This time, the owner of Vetka was russian colonel V.P. Shleifer. In 1912 in Vetka had about 12.000 inhabitants (2.000 of them - starovers).
On the 9th of January, 1905, the first Russian revolution began. On the 24th of Janury famous Gomel social-democrat Ivan Mokhau with several comrades arrived in Vetka. In cord-rope plant of Mebel Mochau organized a demonstration againt tsar Nicolas II regim and war between Russia and Japan. Police dispersed a demonstration and arrested Mokhau. After this social-democratic crawd liberated political prisoner and went to caffe (chaynaya), where was a group of starovers. Police commander (pristav) said the starovers: "The demonstrators want to create a "jewish kingdom" ("zhydowskoe tsarstvo"). The jews were a mainority between the crawd. The result of Police chief words was a wild pogrom against jews and demonstrators.
During World War I German troops occupied Vetka (1918). Since 1919 Vetka was in Gomel uezd of Russian Federational Soviet Socialist Republic, 1926 - the center of region in the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1924 a power-station was built in Vetka. Since 1933 in Vetka began to publish newspaper "Za balshavistskiya tempi" ("For Bolshevik tempo"). Soviet authorities opened in Vetka jewish school in Yiddish. The population of Vetka in 1939 was 6.000 people.
On 22th of June, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded USSR. The germans occupied Vetka on the 18th of August, 1941. They organized a ghetto. After this followed "a final solution of jewish question". The sources, I saw, didn`t give a quantity of Vetka Holocaust victims. . Elena Dawidowna Markovich-Shanovich from Vetka, who survived Holocaust, remembers: " In Autumn, 1941, the germans shooted my father and said my mother: "Your husband commited two mistakes: he was born as a jew and defenced Soviets with arms in his hands..." After this they commanded all jews to appear for registration. My mother cried: "It is a death". Our neighbour came to mother. She said: "We want to survive your Lena". Mother kissed me and neighbour and said good bye... For ever. Our neighbour hided me three days. Later their granfather took me to the village Sobali to their relatives. They hid me until the germans arrival. After this they took me to
another village. Again hid. One day I went to the street. German soldiers found me, shooted and wounded in a shoulder. I run away to partizans. Two partizans - Sandin and Zubarev found me and took to partizan`s detachment".
During the Briansk operation Briansk front of Red Army liberated Vetka on 28th of November, 1943.
During World War II the fascists burnt out 462 houses and wiped out 464 inhabitants of the city. It is official data. I think that this data is incorrect. I must remember that a population of Vetka in 1939 was about 6.000 inhabitants. And half or 40% of them were jewish. It`s a pity, but today we don`t know how many jews the fascists killed in Vetka. But, One thing is quite clear. It was the end of jewish life in Vetka.
26th of April, 1986 - is a new tragic day in Vetka history, date of Chernobyl Atomic Power Station explosion. High level of pollution with radioactive materials is a symbol of Vetka today.