The current estimated population is around 88,000 (as of 2001).


In 1430, Grand Duke of Lithuania Vitautas (великий князь литовский Витовт) granted the rights over the area to Kalinik, the procurator (наместник) of Putyvl and Zvenigorod, and it is believed that his servant named Berdich founded a "khutor" (remote settlement) there, however the etymology of the name "Berdychiv" is not known.

In 1483, Crimean Tatars destroyed the settlement. During the 1546 partition between Lithuania and Poland, the region was listed as a property of Lithuanian magnate Tyshkevich (Tyszkiewicz). According to the Union of Lublin (1569), Volhynia formed a province of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The fortified Carmelite monastery (built from 1627-1642 under the sponsorship of Janusz Tyszkiewicz Łohojski), captured and plundered by Bohdan Khmelnytsky in 1647, was disestablished in 1864.

The town underwent rapid development after 1800, quickly becoming the most important banking center in the Russian Empire. However the banking industry was moved from Berdichev to Odessa (a major port city) after 1850, and the town became impoverished again in a short period of time.

In 1846, the town accounted 1893 buildings, 69 of which were brick-made, 11 streets, 80 walkways and 4 squares. Honoré de Balzac visited it in 1850 and noted that its unplanned development made it resemble the dance of polka as some buildings leaned left, while others right.

Jewish history

According to the census of 1789, the Jews constituted 75% of Berdychiv's population (1,951 out of 2,640, of whom 246 were liquor-dealers, 452 houseowners, 134 merchants, 188 artisans, 150 clerks and 56 idlers). In 1797, Prince Radziwill granted seven Jewish families the monopoly privilege of the cloth trade in the town. Jews were a major driving force of the town's commerce in the first half of the 19th century, founding a number of trading companies (some traded internationally), banking establishments, and serving as agents of the neighboring estates of Polish nobility (szlachta).

By the end of the 18th century, Berdychiv became an important center of Hasidism. As the town grew, a number of noted scholars served as rabbis there, including Lieber the Great and Joseph the Harif and the Tzadik Levi Yosef Yitzhak of Berdichev (the author of "Kedushat Levi"), who lived and taught there until his death in 1809. See also Berditchev (Hasidic dynasty).

In its heyday, Berdychiv accounted some eighty synagogues and "battei midrash", and was famous for its cantors.

Berdychiv was also one of the centers of the conflict between Hasidim and Mitnagdim. As the ideas of Haskalah influenced parts of the Jewish communities, a large group of Maskilim formed in Berdychiv in the 1820s.

In 1847, 23,160 Jews resided in Berdychiv and by 1861 the number doubled to 46,683, constituting the second largest Jewish community in the Russian Empire. The May Laws of 1882 and other government persecutions affected Jewish population and in 1897, out of the town's population of 53,728, 41,617 (about 80%) were Jewish. 58% of Jewish males and 32% of Jewish females were literate.

Until World War I, the natural growth was balanced by the emigration. During the 1917 October Revolution and Russian Civil War, the mayor of the town was the Bundist leader D. Lipets. In early 1919, the Jews of Berdychiv became victims of a pogrom perpetrated by the Ukrainian army (See Symon Petliura).

The Soviet authorities closed or destroyed most of the town's synagogues. (See Yevsektsiya)

In the 1920s, Yiddish language was officially recognized and in 1924, the first in Ukraine official law court to conduct its affairs in Yiddish was established in the city, but in the 1930s, the use of Yiddish was curtailed and all Jewish cultural activities were suspended before World War II.

Most civilians from areas near the border did not have a chance to evacuate when the Nazis began their invasion on June 22, 1941. An "extermination" unit was established in Berdychiv in early July 1941 and a Jewish ghetto was set up. It was liquidated on October 5, 1941, after all the inhabitants were murdered.

A 1973 Ukrainian-language article about the history of Bedichev says:"Гестапівці стратили 38 536 чоловік." [ [ A Soviet article about the history of Berdychiv] (1973, in Ukrainian language: "Історія міст і сіл УРСР (житомирська область) Бердичів" Є. Громенко, О. О. Павлов)] (Gestapo killed 38,536 persons.) In line with the official Soviet policy regarding the Jews and the Holocaust, the article does not mention the word "Jew" and does not acknowledge the genocide of the Jews.



* Boris Sidis (Born in 1867)
* Jacob Pavlovitch Adler (mother Hessye Halperin was born)
* Valeriy Skvortsov (born in 1945; Soviet high jumper; European champion)
* Sholom Aleichem (lived)
* Honoré de Balzac (married in)
* Isaac Fridman Lutzkaya (Born in 1926, Mexican actor) d. 2007.
* Joseph Conrad, writer (Born in 1857, Polish nobility)
* Abraham Firkovich, Karaim hakham (lived)
* Abraham Goldfaden (lived)
* Israel Grodner (lived)
* Vasily Grossman
* Der Nister
* Vladimir Horowitz
* Antoni Protazy Potocki, szlachta (owned and organized several factories in the village of Makhnivka, near Berdychiv)
* Mendele Mocher Sforim (lived)
* Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev ("Levi Yosef Yitzhak of Berdichev"), Torah commentator, chassidic rabbi, leader, religious folk song writer, and leader of the Berditchev Hasidic dynasty.

Berdychiv on stage

:"See: Abraham Ellstein"

ee also

*Names of European cities in different languages
*History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union



*"From Berdichev to Jerusalem" by Miriam Sperber, 1980
*"The Bones of Berdichev: The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman" by John Garrand, 1996

External links

* [ BerdichevLand ]
* [ "Berdichev business" газета "Діловий Бердичів"]
* [ Jewish History of Berdichev, Part 1] and [ Part 2] at
* [ Berdichev] at Simon Wiesenthal Center
* [ Berdychiv lands from the earliest times to the beginning of the 20th century] (1999, in Ukrainian language: "Бердичівська земля з найдавнішших часів до початку ХХ ст.")
* [ PBS Independent Lens: Berdichev]

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