Velyikyiy Bychkiv, Ukraine
Великий Бичків, Yкраïна
The Jewish community of Velyikyiy Bychkiv (Nagybocskó), in the county of Rakhiv (Mármaros), was established in mid-19th century. On the eve of World War II, the Jewish population of the town numbered some 250 families (approximately 20% of the town’s population at the time).
Under the Hungarian rule, there was an active Jewish-Communist underground cell (perhaps more than one) in town. This is unique to this town, and there is no evidence of similar organization among the Jews anywhere else in Carpatho-Rus under Hungary. This organization was initiated in the summer of 1939 by Moshkovitz Philip and Izikowitz Osher, who until 1941 recruited Jewish activists into their Communist cell, made contact with a Ruthenian Communist cell in the town, bought radio to listen to Soviet broadcasts, and also provided financial aid to Jews (and their families) who escaped to the Soviet Union. In December 1941, the activists established a partisan squad, and sabotage activities were planned against the Hungarians. The activists were expecting the arrival of Soviet paratroopers. On January 4, 1942, a group of Soviet paratroopers led by Oleksa Borkaniuk, a former leader of the largest communist party in Czechoslovakia, landed in Carpatho-Rus. The Hungarians, who apparently were aware of this and of the communist activities in town, arrested the paratroopers shortly after their arrival, on January 12. The communist partisans were also arrested.
The arrested were brutally interrogated and severely tortured at the Kóner castle in Munkács, which served as the headquarters of the notorious Investigations Department of the Hungarian gendarmerie in Carpatho-Rus. Osher Eisikovitz was tortured in a particularly brutal manner, and died of his injuries at a hospital in Munkács. Apparently, all those who survived the investigations were eventually tried and some – including Oleksa Borkaniuk – were executed.
We must stress that there was little active resistance among the Jews to the Hungarian occupation of Carpatho-Rus, as well as to the German occupation since March 1944 and the destruction of the Jewish communities. The speed of the German anti-Jewish measures; the absence of many men and boys who had been recruited into the Hungarian labor battalions; the absence of significant resistance among the local non-Jewish population; and the desire of many not to abandon their families in times of distress (and therefore, for example, not to flee to the forests) – all these prevented the development of active resistance. We do not criticize them, on the contrary – staying with the family is also a kind of heroism, and it is honorable no less than escaping, hiding, or hopelessly attacking a Hungarian gendarme.
In the spring of 1944, after the German occupation of Hungary, the Jews of Nagybocskó were brought to Auschwitz together with the rest of the Jews in the county, and most of them were murdered there in the gas chambers.