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Short foreword from Nina Bolshakova. Краткое предисловие


Dear kupelians: 

Your ancestors were born, lived and died, and maybe murdered in Kupel. It’s why you are reading this text in the first place. My great-grandfather Itzhak Meer Glaser was the last rabbi of Kupel.  He was murdered there in 1941 along with his family members, neighbors and fellow members of Jewish community. I am compiling some available materials: documents, letters, publications related to Kupel and kupelians over a few years. There is not much. Kupel’s Jews were murdered in 1941-1942 by Germans and some local Ukrainians; then their houses have been destroyed by locals, literally wiped out. It was done to prevent those, who happened to be away: in GULAG, like my grandmother Berta Glaser, or in soviet army fighting Germans, like my great-ankle Michael Glaser, to return in their homes.  All Jewish property was looted by locals.


Kupel is in the former Volhynia gubernya at Latitude 49°  36' N


Longitude 26°  31' E. It is near towns Proskurov and Volochisk, the nearest railroad station.


      In 2005 a few members of Kirshenbaum family from Omaha, NE visited Kupel. Joe Kirshenbaum was born in Kupel in 1921. In the same year family left Kupel for America.  Joe contacted me because he read in internet my story “Family of Rav Itzhak Meer Glaser”, about the Rabbi who happened to be my great-grandfather and the last Rabbi of Kupel.


       I provided him with a map of Kupel, which he found extremely helpful.


      They arranged a car and a driver from Kiev (through Joint Distribution Committee). Local Chabad Rabbi from Khmelnitsky Yehoshua Raskin joined them there. The drive from Kiev took 4-5 hours (265 km). They found Kupel as a small settlement, and local Ukrainian lead them to the Jewish cemetery, what left of it. You can see it on the pictures, which Joe sent me.  On some of gravestones you can still read names.


      Maybe, one day you will go to Kupel too, so there is what I would ask you to do.


      In 1970-1977 a gifted Yiddish writer Chaim Beider (born in Kupel in 1920, died in New York in 2005) collected money with a few of his childhood friends, and they erected a monument in a memory of Kupel’s Jews right behind a local medical facility. Maybe, you will be able to find it if you go there too. Please make a photo and send it to me, along with other photos from Kupel.


      Also, in August of 1941, Germans and their Ukrainian alias took hostage 50 Jews, put them all in a tiny storage room without window in the local market (loaded them up to the ceiling) and next morning all Jews were dead except those who got on the top layer. They all were buried in a center of the shtetl by the Lenin statue. In a few days, smell became awful. So they ordered other Jews, who were still alive at the moment, dig bodies out and bury them on the Jewish cemetery. Maybe, you‘ll be able to find this mass grave.


      Also, somewhere in the Jewish cemetery there should be a grave of Rabbi Itzhak Meer Glaser (Glezer), my great-grandfather, who was buried alive. Maybe, you’ll be able to find and photograph this grave too.


      Behind the local medical facility there should be a memorial statue in honor of Jews, killed in Kupel in WWII. Try to find and photograph it.


      Also, in a summer of 2008 Miriam Steinberg contacted me about Kupel map and directions.  Like many American Jews, her family memories include the life and persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe. So, 18 family members of her family took a journey to Ukraine, where they visited their native towns and villages. Bernie Steinberg wrote:


      "....In Kupel, a 93 year old woman described the day in November 1941 when Nazis rounded up and murdered 900 of the 1000 Jews in my mother's birthplace. "Do you want to see the mound where they are buried?" she asked. "Its close by--down the road right by the old mill". The old mill?! I had heard of the mill. It had been recounted and described in family stories: it had been built and run by my great-grandfather. ….." (Dr. Steinberg, Remembering What We Value, from the Washington Post 13 Jun 2009)


      Ask locals about Anna (Annushka), Ukrainian woman, who took care of Jewish mass graves. Maybe, some member of her family is living in Kupel still and can show you the actual place.


      You may try to find some Jewish items there in Kupel, like chandeliers, dishes, spoons, maybe even books. As I said, all Jewish property was looted by locals in 1941-1942, so they might have some items in possession still. Ask local people if they have anything like that in possession and try to buy it back.


      There used to be a Jewish school in Kupel, seven grades. Maybe, some papers are still available in the local school archive.


      Ask locals about Yuzepha Karlovna Kravets, which two step-daughters, little girls, were shot to death by local policemen in 1942. may be, she is still alive or some of her family is alive and remember her story. Write it down.


      Please leave a few flowers on Jewish cemetery in Kupel from me.


      Good luck! My best wishes, Nina.