OSTRYNA: [Astin, Ostrino, Astryna, Istrin] Print

Herb
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).

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CEMETERY:

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]

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 October 2014 15:22