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OSTRYNA: [Astrin, Ostrino, Ostrin, Astryna, Istrin] former Lida uezd PDF Print E-mail

Alternate names: Ostryna [Bel, Pol], Ostrino [Rus], Ostrin [Yid], Astrin, Astryna, Istrin, Belarusian: Астрына. אוסטרין-Yiddish.Located at 53°44' N, 24°32' E in former Grodno Oblast, 29 miles E of Hrodna (Grodno), 54 miles W of Navahrudak (Nowogródek), 124.2 miles W of Minsk. Ostryna formerly was part of Lida District, Vilna Guberniya (Lithuania) and then the Grodno Guberniya, and Lida uezd, Nowogrodek Woj., Poland between WWI and WWII, now Grodno Oblast. Alternate names: Ostrin, Ostrino, Ostrina. The only house known to have been occupied by a Jewish family is a two-story brick house on the main east-west street marked with a wrought iron symbol that was placed as a reminder that Jews lived in the house. Jewish population: 1,440 (in 1897), 1,067 (in 1921). 29 km from the Rozhanka railroad station on the Mosty-Lida line, Ostryna has a tile plant and food-processing enterprises.

Jews are first mentioned in Ostryna  as customs and taxes contractorsbefore 1569. In 1623 the Councils of the Lands placed Ostryna under the jurisdiction of the Grodno Jewish community. 436 Jewish poll tax payers in the town and surrounding communities are listed in 1765 with 405 in 1847, 1,440 (59% of total population) in 1897. 1,067 (67.3%) in 1921. The Jews engaged mainly in trading, forestry, crafts, peddling, and agriculture; Early 1920s Jewish popuolation was 60 Jewish farmers plus family. Germans left Ostryna in 1919 so Jewish youth and military veterans established a Jewish police force to guard against peasant attacks. A Jewish self-defense group organized in 1934, acted effectively against peasants incited by Polish students to loot Jewish shops. A Jewish savings and loan fund established in 1912 with 214 members was dissolved in World War but a later cooperative bank had 168 members in 1921. A Hebrew school was established by the Zionist M. Gornilki. The first coeducational school was founded in 1913. In 1921 the CYSHO (Central Yiddish School Organization) established a Yiddish school that  promoted cultural activities. Zionists were active in Ostryna as winessed by a 1923 Tarbut school. AJewish public library eisted in the town/ A forestry training center (hakhsharah), was attempted in the area. *Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir was established in 1927. Many ḥalutzim from Ostryna emigrated to Israel. Among Ostryna's rabbis were Jacob Ẓevi Shapiro, author of Tiferet Ya'akov on the Mishnah; Jacob Tabszunsky; and S. Gerszonowicz, the last rabbi, who was murdered by the Nazis along with his congregation . Harry Austryn *Wolfson was a native of Ostryna. Source: Encyclopedia Judaica



A cemetery is at the east-end of town with no Jewish gravesites. An older man (in his 80¹s?) remembered much about the Jews of Ostrina. The remaining information about them and the cemetery I acquired was from him via translation. The three houses that were next to the market were the homes of Jewish families. He motioned to the left to point them out. I was told that the synagogue was nearby the houses at the end of the street. It was larger than the houses with a facade that were similar to the other synagogues that I had seen in the older parts of cities in the Baltic Oblast. A facade with an arch softened the sharp lines of the roof. I walked around the synagogue and examined the building. The brickwork on the sides and back of the structure were more elaborate (and costly to build) than the style used for houses. Currently, the building is used as a small local theater. There are some brass plaques indicating the current use of the building by the front door. There was another large two story brick house that was near the synagogue, also was the home of a Jewish family. Two brick houses and three wooden ones belonged to Jewish families. The last Jew in Ostrina was named Rosenberg. He died recently. His children had moved away some years ago.

The helpful old man knew the location of the Jewish cemetery on the north end of town in a large, level field that had a pile of wood stacked near the road. The following is the old man's story: The field was the site of the Jewish cemetery. About 15 years ago [date?], a Soviet commissar noticed that the place had become overrun with vegetation. As was common in the Soviet Union, the conclusion reached was that no one cared about the individuals buried there. They seemed to overlook the facts that the Nazis took all the Jews and that travel into the country was severely restricted. The commissar had the land cleared and leveled. He ordered new houses built on the site. Then, a most amazing thing happened. The citizens of Ostrina refused to enter any building that might be built on the site. They were stubborn; and the commissar backed down. Now, the land is vacant, save for the pile of wood. The grass was cut. I suspect that maybe children play there. The site was at least twice as large as the only other cemetery in Ostrina. I asked why and was told that Jews from all over the Oblast used the cemetery as well as the synagogue. The only thing left to do there was to cry. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it : Carl Smith visited the cemetery in the early 1990's.

Jewish cemetery photos. [February 2010]


Witness interview: Yelena S. : "The Jews were taken in waggons [sic] from Ostrino to the river. The Germans gathered the Jews of several villages on the public square. There were men, women and children." (Witness N°341 interviewed in November, 2010), No memorial marker. [July 2015]

The Germans had entered Ostryna on June 25, 1941, and swiftly established a Judenrat. The following week, the first Jews were killed. In October 1941 the Jews of Ostryna with those of Nowy-Dwor, about1,200, were concentrated in two small ghettos. On Nov. 2, 1942, all the Jews from the Ostryna ghetto were deported to the Kelbasin forced-labor camp near Grodno, and at the end of the month were deported to*Auschwitz. A few young people escaped from the trains going to Auschwitz and joined partisans.Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.


[UPDATE] Investigation of Execution Site by Yahad-in-Unum [August 2017]



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