Zhuravichi, small town on the
river Bolotnyanka (Gutlyanka), 55 kilometers from Rogachev (in Belarussian
Zhuravichi has been since the end of XVI century. It was a boough of Rechitsa pavet in Minsk voevodstvo of the Great Duchy of Lithuania.
Since 1772 – shtetl Zhuravichi was included into the squad of Russian empire (since 1784 – in Bychov (Bychau) uezd of Mogilev (Magilyou) gubernia). The wars of XIX century reflected on Zhuravichi.
In 1812, during the war between France and Russia, a battle the French troops and The Russian 3rd Bug regiment of the Russian troops (commander - lieutenant colonel Klyanouski) fought near Zhuravichi.
XIX century wasn’t a bad period for the shtetl’s Jews. But, of course, the policy of Russian authorities was strongly anti-Jewish. The Jews (in 1847 the community had 1.060 members) played a key role in the shtetl’s economy. Local Jews were known, as the dealers (it is necessary to emphasize, that in middle XIX of century four fairs per year were organized in Zhuravichi). They traded the agricultural production, fabrics, utensils, haberdashery, sugar, salt, horses etc. Jewish handicraftsmen were glorified: the tailors, shoemakers, joiners, mechanics, bakers, butchers, smiths – it isn’t a complete list of local Jewish craft trades. The Jews were active in the sphere of local service. Undoubtedly, the centre of the Jewish life was local synagogue.
In 1886 shtetl had 2.179 inhabitants, Il’inskaya orthodox church, catholic church, synagogue and three Jewish prayer houses, two tanning workshops, 54 shops.
In XIX century in three kilometers from Zhuravichi has appeared a village with the similar title. After this, shtetl was known as Staryya Zhuravichi (Old Zhuravichi) and the village Novyya Zhuravichi (New Zhuravichi). In 1879 Abram Khazanov opened a tanning factory in Novyya Zhruvichi.
In 1880 nobleman Syargey Myashcherski organized the clothing factory in Staryya Zhuravichi, which, together with a mil, were leased to Esel’ Rabin’ski l for 300 roubles.
In 1894 shtetl had a hospital and drugstore.
In 1897 Russian authorities organized a census. The results for Staryya Zhuravichi were: 2.439 inhabitants - 1.606 Jews.
An awful events of the first half of XX century were reflected on Jewish population of Zhuravichi. Jewish weekly magazine "Voschod" (published in St.-Petersburg) in N 22 (1904) has placed the information about the pogrom which has occurred in shtetl Zhuravichi: the pogrom took place on Sunday (October, 17). On the 15th of October (Friday) the crowd has attacked poor jewish baker and plundered all his goods. The Policemen Kosarau and Kavaleu attempted to arrest the robbers, but the Gangsters attacked them. Local chief of police did all to pacify the gangsters.
The Market square was filled by the people on Sunday. About 14.00 several persons without the reason attacked Jewish dealer. Other people followed to their example. They assaulted on the cap-makers, bakers and other Jews. During the pogrom the gangsters also plundered the shops. Chief of police Mironau acted vigorously, but he was powerless. The Police called the peasants for help. The policemen and peasants banished out the gangsters. In the result of pogrom 26 Jewish shops were plundered. Tens of people were remained perfectly ruined, without a piece of bread. All content of shops was exported by the gangsters. Fortunately, nobody was killed.
About 3.200 people lived in Zhuravichi in 1905. In 1906 shtetl had a post-office.
Social-democratic organizations (including, Jewish Bund) were active in Zhuravichi in the beginning of XX century. Of course, the supporters of Zionism also lived in this shtetl.
Since 1904 till 1905 Russia was at war with Japan. After the war the first Russian revolution (1905-07 ) took place.
In 1914 Zhuravichi had two wind mills and two tanning workshops.
WWI promoted the crash of Russian empire. In February, 1917, Democratic revolution took place and in October – the Bolshevik’s came to power.
In February, 1918, German troops occupied Zhuravichi. In May, 1919, after the establishment of Soviet authority, shtetl was included into the structure of Gomel gubernia in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
In 1919 the Bolsheviks opened seven-year school in Zhuravichi. 1919 – was a period of active formations of local Bolshevik organizations. For example, one of the organizers of Komsomol (Soviet Youth organization – Lenin’s komsomol) in Ragachou region Rachil’ Izrailevna Turkina (born in Ragachou) wrote in the memoirs «On fire of civil war » (Minsk, 1987), that in 1919 the Komsomol organization of Zhuravichi has amplified.
In 1922 shtetl had two schools: Belarussian and Jewish (on Yiddish). Both schools were incorporated in 1932. Since 1924 Zhuravichi were in the squad of the Belarussian Soviet Socialist republic and become the centre of region( 1924-34, 1935-56).
Local Jewry tested the full "charm" of the Bolshevik regim: the closing of synagogues, prohibition of spiritual life, persecution of private trade etc. On the other hand, the authorities opened Jewish schools (on Yiddish) .In the second half of 1920-e Yiddish was recognized as the state language. Such policy, was actually finished in 1930-e.
Ragachou collective-state-farm (organized in 1936) theatre was very popular in Zhuravichi and in the whole region. This theatre had a very good repertoir: Russian (A. Ostrovsky, M. Gorky) and Belarussian (Yakub Kolas, Kuz’ma Chorny) classics.
The end of 30-e of XX century was the peak of awful Stalin reprisals.
In 1941 the authorities of Ragachou region proclaim the campaign «Our region should become clean». It was a plan for the improvement of cities and villages.
On the 22nd of June, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the USSR. In the first days of war Ragachou and Zhuravichi committees of Communist party organized the batallions of destruction (commander of Zhuravichi batallion - chief of NKVD Granyuk). The battalions protected the state objects, revealed the spies and saboteurs.
On the 25th of June the first war refugees were in this region. This time, the Germans began to bomb Zhuravichi and Ragachou. In the middle of July Soviet partisans began to act. The leader of Zhuravichi partisans was the first secretary of regional committee of Communist party M.F. Shlykau (he was killed several days before the occupation). His death meant the end of underground movement in Zhuravichi region in 1941. Shlykau’s successor I.F. Myshchak with other local communist party leaders evacuated into the Soviet rear. The partisan movement was reinstated only in the autumn of 1942.
The Nazis occupied Zhuravichi on the 14th of August, 1941. Zhuravichi region was referred to a zone of army rear of group of army "Centre". The Nazis created in Ragachou and Zhuravichi the regional and urban commandant's offices.
During 1941-43 Nazi barbarians destroyed the Jewish population and other inhabitants of Zhuravichi, Red Army soldiers and officers (400 of them were killed in November, 1941). Several examples of the tragedy: In March, 1943, was killed daughter of partisan Fyados Tsimafeevich Rumyantsau and Alena Mazurava (only because her husband was Jewish). The Jewish history of Zhuravichi overed. For ever.
In 1943 communist underground actively fought with the Germans. Chief of Zhuravichi communist committee was Ignat Maksimavich Dzikan (till September,1943 – Samuil Paulavich Dzivachenka).
In March 1943 partisans brigade N10 began to act in Zhuravichi region. In March – April, 1943, this brigade had 2.494 members (on the 1st of May), 2.101 rifles, 96 machine guns, 24 mortars, anti-tank gun.
The Red Army liberated Zhuravichi on the 25th of November, 1943, during the Gomel-Ragachou operation.
The inhabitants of Zhuravichi: killed during the Nazi occupation and the soldiers and officers of the Red Army, died or vanished during the War.
Now, Zhuravichi - a village, the centre of selsovet in Ragachou. 1041 inhabitants (1994). The hospital, drugstore, shops, school, library, house of culture are presented in this village. Zhuravichi suffered from the explosion on the Chernobyl Atomic Power Station in April, 1986.