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City of regional significance
Coat of arms of Bolekhiv
Coat of arms
Bolekhiv is located in Ukraine
Location of Bolekhiv in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
Coordinates: 49°04′01″N 23°51′05″E / 49.06694°N 23.85139°E / 49.06694; 23.85139Coordinates: 49°04′01″N 23°51′05″E / 49.06694°N 23.85139°E / 49.06694; 23.85139
Country  Ukraine
Region Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
 • Mayor Zenon Makota
Population (2001)
 • Total 10,590
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Area code 380-
Website City website

Bolekhiv (Ukrainian: Болехів; Polish: Bolechów; Yiddish: באלעכאב) is a regional city in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (province) of Ukraine. It was once home to a large Jewish community, very few of whom survived World War II.


Bolekhiv, is first mentioned in historical records in 1371 after the defeat of originally called Bolechów (Polish variant), dates back to 1371 soon after the defeat of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia by Poland. During the Galicia–Volhynia Wars in the 14th century, Bolekhiv was variously held by Poland, Hungary (Danylo Dazhbohovych), and Lithuania. Subsequently, King Jogaila of Poland succeeded and Bolekhiv became part of the Kingdom of Poland.

In 1546, Emilia Hrosovska established a salt refinery in the town. In 1603, Sigismund III Vasa gave the town the Magdeburg rights. At that time, the Bolekhiv region was involved with the Opryshky movement led by Oleksa Dovbush and German colonists arrived.

After WWII, Bolekhiv became a raion (a region of local governance). In 1964, its raion was merged with Dolyna Raion. Since 1993 the city has been governed by the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.

Bolekhiv Jews[edit]

Main article: Holocaust in Bolekhiv
Bolekhiv synagogue, 2009.

A Jewish community existed in Bolekhiv (Yiddish pronunciation: Bolechov) since its establishment by Nicholas Gydzincki. The town founder proclaimed equal rights to the three ethnic groups living there, Jews, Polish Catholics and Ruthenians (Ukrainians of the Greek Orthodox), and this was confirmed by Sigismund III Vasa, the king of the new Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formerly crown prince of Poland, the grand duke of Lithuania, and later to become king of Sweden.‏‏[1]

The town was a privately owned town, and the changes of ownership or inheritance had a strong impact on all the residents of the town, especially the Jews. In 1670, after the Tatars invaded and burnt the town down, the town owner gave the Jews a large loan to rebuild. Towards the middle of the 19th century there was much tension between the Jews and the other ethnicities.[2]

A Hassidic rebbe, Rabbi Shneibalg, "the Rebbe of Bolechov", had a large Hassidic court in the town.[3]

By 1890, seventy-five percent of the population of Bolekhiv (4237 people) was Jewish.[4]

Atrocities began in 1935, by a hostile government and population, and escalated after the German conquest in 1941.

By 1940 the Jewish population of Bolekhiv reached about 3000.[5]

On 28 and 29 October 1941, four months after capturing the town, the German police carried out a first Aktion (German annihilation operation) in Bolekhiv, which included a list of 1000 of the Jewish rabbis, leaders, doctors and richer people, who were tortured for two days, and then shot in a nearby forest, some buried alive.[6]

In 1941 and 1942 thousands of Jews were added to the population, from the surrounding towns.[5]

About a year later, 3 to 5 September 1942, the Germans planned a second Aktion. The Jews were warned in advance by a member of their Judenrat who was in a nearby town, but many of the local Ukrainians began a murder spree in the preceding afternoon, targeting mainly children, in horrific acts of barbarity. The Germans joined in the action, and continued to grab people from their houses or hiding places. About 1,500 Jews were murdered, 600-700 of them children, and an additional 2,000 Jews were sent to the Belzec death camp where most were subsequently murdered.

Other Aktions continued into 1943 when the surviving 900 Jews, working in makeshift "work groups", were marched to the cemetery nearby, in groups of 100 or 200, and shot.

Only 48 Jews of the town survived World War II[4]


The Bolekhiv municipality is located in the western part of Ukraine in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. It shares borders with Dolyna Raion (east), Lviv Oblast (north, southwest and west), Zhydachiv Raion, Stryi Raion, and Skole Raion. Two rivers, the Sukil and the Svicha, run through the town before joining the Dniester. The Carpathian Mountains lie to the southwest. Bolekhiv is on Ukraine highway 10 between Dolyna and Striy. The capital, Kiev is approximately 300 km away in a west northwesterly direction.[7]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Bolekhiv municipality, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast

On 21 October 1993, Bolekhiv received the status of a regional city (up until then, it had been a city in Dolyna Raion). It encompasses six rural municipalities (communes) and eleven villages. The communes are:


In 2001, Bolekhiv city's population was 21,232. The largest districts in Bolekhiv are Bolekhiv city (10,590), Tysiv commune (3,352) and Mizhrichia commune (1,891). The smallest community is the Huziiv commune with a population of 1,159 (2001).[8][9]

Notable citizens[edit]

  • Kazimiera Alberti, Polish writer and translator.
  • Dov Bear Birkenthal (1723 - 1805) also known as Ber of Bolechow, a Jewish merchant and scholar. His memoirs, which he wrote in Hebrew, are housed at the National Library of Canada, Ottawa. The memoirs were translated into Yiddish (Klal-farlag, Berlin, 1922) and into English (Arno Press, New York, 1973) by Mark Vishnitzer. They describe the town and the Jews of Galicia over a period of over fifty years.[10]
  • Juliusz Holzmuller, a Polish painter.
  • Natalia Kobrynska (1855–1920), a Ukrainian writer and public activist. She organised the feminist movement in the region and was a friend of Olha Kobylianska.
  • Marceli Najder, a Polish politician, deputy to the Sejm.
  • Ivan Franko, visited the city from 1884 - 1888 and later wrote a drama, The Stolen Happiness (Ukradene schastia).
Local orientation
Regional orientation

Places of interest[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^‏ according to the 19th-century book "Memories of Reb Dov of Bolechov" page 8. The mayor of the town could be from any of the ethnic groups and would swear to care for all three.
  2. ^ Memories of Reb Dov of Bolichov, page 8
  3. ^ Rabbi Shneibalg, the Bolohover Rebbe (Hebrew)
  4. ^ a b Bartov O. "Erased: vanishing traces of Jewish Galicia in present day Ukraine." Princeton University Press, 2007. ISBN 069113121X, 9780691131214 p73 - 74. Accessed at Google Books 24 February 2014.
  5. ^ a b The Lost page 128
  6. ^ Bolechov remembered (JewishGen website)
  7. ^ "Bolekhiv." Google Maps accessed 24 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Bolekhiv." Government of Ukraine.
  9. ^ "Regional statistics office." Dead URL 24 February 2014.
  10. ^ Dov of Bolochov Memoirs (Hebrew,
  11. ^ O'Connor M. " Life Stories: A Guide to Reading Interests in Memoirs, Autobiographies, and Diaries." ABC-CLIO, 2011 p21 ISBN 1610691466, 9781610691468.