Project «Voices of Jewish settlements. Vitebsk region.»
פיתוח קשרי התרבות בין העמים של ישראל ובלרוס
TILE AS A TRADEMARK
Kopys is a town in Orsha region, located on the bank of the Dnieper River. In 1998 the town’s population was 1,200 people.
Kopys was first mentioned in chronicles in 1059. According to the first all-Russian census, held in 1897, Kopys had 3,384 residents, 1,399 of them – Jewish (41.34% of the total population), in 1917 – 5,644 residents (1,876 - Jewish, 32%), in 1923 – 3,363 residents, in 1926 – 3,584 residents (1,176 – Jewish, 33%), in 1977 – 5,700 residents, in 1994 – 5,200.
At the end of the 15th century Kopys had its own tile production, which developed over the ages and became the town’s trademark. The first tile factories were founded here in the middle of the 19th century to produce oven and fireplace decorations and statues. In the second half of the 19th century there were 18 factories, 15 of which were owned by Jews. The first well-known tile factory was established in 1860 and belonged to a man, whose last name was Peselnik. In 1898 it employed 131 people. Four years later Ginzburg’s tile factory was opened, which in 1898 employed 30 people. The following factories sprang up later: Shevelev’s in 1870 (30 workers in 1895), Gurevich’s in 1874 (88 workers in 1990), Alperovich’s in 1880 (49 people in 1900), Kosoy’s in 1888 (25 workers in 1900), Shapiro’s in 1889 (86 people in 1900), Magin’s in 1894 (47 workers in 1898), Shalyta’s, Soloveichik’s and Zaretsky’s in 1897, Ioffe’s in 1898 (38 workers in 1898).
At the beginning of the 20th century around 800 people were working at tile factories, about one-third of them – Jews.
At the beginning of the 19th century a brewery was opened in Kopys, some time later – flour and cereal production (the town had two mills, which employed 15 people in 1900).
Jews appeared in Kopys not later than the 18th century. They were involved not only in tile production but also beer and wine production, fishing and trade. In 1785 Kopys had 18 Jewish wineries.
At the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century Kopys had a pharmacy (owner – Y. Belenky) and a pharmaceutical association (owner – Z.-Y. Livshiz). Almost all the shops were concentrated in Shklovskaya, Bazarnaya and Slobodskaya streets.
During the first Russian revolution Jewish residents from Kopys took an active part in strikes.
On June 29th, 1941 Kopys was occupied by German invaders. In December all the Jewish population had to move to a flax-mill, located 2 kilometers away from the town. The ghetto was guarded by Nazi policemen. According to witnesses, the ghetto had 250 people, who lived in extremely hard conditions. Some of the local residents helped the people in the ghetto, giving them food. In January, 1942, the Germans and the local policemen made a big ditch near the factory. The 250 Jewish residents were executed on January 12th.
From Y. Vinarskaya story: “I can clearly remember that day. I climbed onto the roof of my house and saw what was happening. The Jews were taken to the ditch; then they were forced to undress and shot in groups. The ground “was breathing” for four days that followed – there was steam coming out of the grave.”
According to N. Zeitlin, Rachil Abramovna Kunina, who was a teacher at the local Jewish school, shouted to the Nazis that the Red Army would come soon and take their vengeance.
The fascists were killing their victims in most cruel ways. For instance, Yeva Kosaya was tied to a horse, which was then made to run as fast as it could. Chernin, a tailor, found shelter with his two sons at the Vinarskys’ house. However, the owners were scared to hide the Jews and left. Nobody knows what happened to them, but it is easy to guess that if the Chernins were alive they would have come back to Kopys after the war and thank the people who helped them.
It is known that Hanon Gilin managed to escape before the execution but he was soon found by policemen and hanged. Tevie Shmerkin and his son Abram ran away the day before the execution (Abram was wounded). They survived and joined the partisan movement.
In 1973 a memorial tombstone was set up on the execution site.
In 1970 only 4 Jews lived in Kopys (0.25% of the total population).
The list of the people who perished in the ghetto was made with the help of Nicolay Lazarevich Zeitlin and Y. Semeshko.
Dina Getsova, her parents
Riva Hononovna Gilina
Yakov Leibovich Zeiger
Afroim Ioffe, his wife and two daughters
Zalman Afroimovich Ioffe
Rachil Abramovna Kunina
Simon Yevelevich Melihan
Gerts Yevelevich Melihan
Yelizaveta Isaakovna Merkina
Rysia Abramovna Kunina
Faika Zalmanovich Lizin
Jehuda Arnovich Lizin
Girsha Aronovich Lizin
Rachelia Zalmanovna Lizina
Rosa Zalmanovna Lizina
(name unknown) Lizina (1939)
Zinaida Ioselevna Solovey
Elia Ioselevna Solovey
Zlata Moiseyevna Sohrina
Hanna Moiseyevna Sohrina
Abrasha Hatskalevich Filgin
Haya Hatskelevna Felgina
Fruma Abramovna Feinginstein
Fruma Girshevna Tsalapihina
There are no Jews living in Kopys currently.
Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region
Vitebsk • Albrehtovo • Babinovichi • Baran • Bayevo • Begoml • Beshenkovichi • Bocheikovo • Bogushevsk • Borkovichi • Braslav • Bychiha • Chashniki • Disna • Dobromysli • Dokshitsy • Druya • Dubrovno • Glubokoye • Gorodok • Kamen • Kohanovo • Kolyshki • Kopys • Krasnopolie • Kublichi • Lepel • Liady • Liozno • Lukoml • Luzhki • Lyntupy • Miory • Obol • Oboltsy • Orsha • Osintorf • Ostrovno • Parafianovo • Plissa • Polotsk • Prozorki • Senno • Sharkovshina • Shumilino • Sirotino • Slaveni• Smolyany • Surazh • Tolochin • Ulla • Verhnedvinsk • Vidzy • Volyntsy • Yanovichi • Yezerishe • Zhary • Ziabki •