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Jola Dziubinska | profile | all galleries >> WESTERN UKRAINE >> LITTLE TOWN BELZ tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

LVOV - LVIV | UKRAINIAN ROZTOCHIA 2004 | UKRAINIAN ROZTOCHIA 2007 | LITTLE TOWN BELZ | VOLYN UPLAND 2008 | A TRIP TO LVIV 2009 | WESTERN UKRAINE 2010

LITTLE TOWN BELZ

Belz is a small town in the Lviv Oblast (province) of western Ukraine, near the border with Poland, located on the banks of the river Solokiya..
It was the first mentioned around 1030 AD, which makes Belz the oldest city in Halychyna. It is thus one of the oldest cities in Europe, an architectural monument of the Middle Ages, which has preserved its characteristic planning and structure of streets and squares.
Belz was located on the crossroads of several trade routes. Indeed, the city often changed hands: it was part of the Galician-Volhynian Principality (1234-1340), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1340-77), under the Hungarian crown (1377-82), then the Polish one (1382-1772).
With the collapse of Austria-Hungary following World War I in November 1918, Belz was included in the Western Ukrainian People's Republic, but came under Polish control in 1919, which was confirmed in the Poland-Ukrainian People's Republic agreement in April 1920. From 1919 to 1939 Belz belonged to Poland. Then from 1939 to 1944 it was occupied by Germany as a part of the General Government.
After the war it reverted to Poland until 1951 when, after a minor border readjustment, it passed to the Soviet Union (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic). Since 1991 it has been part of independent Ukraine.

Belz is a very important place for Ukrainian and Polish Catholics as a place where the Black Madonna of Czestochowa is believed to have resided for several centuries until 1382.
It is also an important center of Hasidism. The Jewish community of Belz was established in around the 14th century. In 1665 Jews in Belz got equal rights and duties.
Belzer Hasidism originated in 1817, when Rabbi Shalom Rokeach was inducted as rabbi of Belz and the town became home to a Hasidic dynasty of Rokeach and Dov Rabbies. The graves of Tzadiks still exist at the Jewish cemetery.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belz_%28Hasidic_dynasty%29

In 1939 the German Nazis invaded Belz. In 1942 they razed the town, deporting or killing its residents, particularly 2000 Jews, who made up 40 percent of the population at that time. In July 1944 the Soviet Army took Belz after a several days battle, but two thirds of the town were destroyed.
What the Nazis neglected to do was duly finished by the Soviet Communists, who banned Catholicism and Hasidism and killed its followers or exiled them to labor camps.

The Yiddish song "Beltz, Mayn Shtetele" (My little town Belz) is a moving evocation of a happy childhood spent in a shtetl.
MP3 http://monika.univ.gda.pl/%7Eliterat/dybuk/belz.mp3
MP3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYjXUs3t9dw
In Polish, pre-war tango: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liMRcbSM194&feature=related
1.
When I recall my childhood,
I feel like I am having a dream.
how does the little house look,
which used to sparkle with lights?
Does the little tree grow which I planted long ago?

Refrain:
Beltz, my little town! The little house where I spent my
childhood!
The poor little room where I used to laugh with other
children!
Every Shabes I would run to the river bank to play with
other children under a little green tree.
Belz, my little town!
My little town where I had so many fine dreams!

2.
The little house is old and overgrown with moss.
The old roof collapsed and the windows are without glass.
The attic is crooked, the walls bent.
I would never recognize it...

Around 1914 Belz counted 6100 inhabitants, including 3600 Jews, 1600 Ukrainians, and 900 Poles.
There are some 3,000 people living in Belz now, only 2 Jews among them. It is very poor, neglected and untidy township. The town offers no hotel, no restaurants. Many of Belz's buildings lack plumbing.
But the last few years there is an increasing influx of Polish and Jewish tourists. This town has about 60 architectural sites, five of which are of national importance. These include the Dominican complex with St. Michael�s Church; the Dominican convent, a wooden church with a chapel, the church at Zamochok, and the Aryan Gate.
Every year this town receives at least 10,000 Jews, who come to pay homage to the graves of Tzadiks.
The Belzer Hasid community is currently building a hotel and synagogue complex, which should open this year.
Down The Road To Belz
Down The Road To Belz
Iconostasis
Iconostasis
Miracles
Miracles
Ruins Of The Monastery
Ruins Of The Monastery
Belz Castle Walls
Belz Castle Walls
Belz Castle Walls
Belz Castle Walls
Church of St. Nicolas
Church of St. Nicolas
Belz Castle Walls
Belz Castle Walls
Church On The Castle
Church "On The Castle"
Belz Castle Walls
Belz Castle Walls
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Jewish Cemetery
Cemetery Church
Cemetery Church
St. Nicolas Church
St. Nicolas Church
St. Nicolas Fresco
St. Nicolas Fresco
Jewish Temple
Jewish Temple
Old Cinema-Theatre
Old Cinema-Theatre
Old Building
Old Building
The Aryan Gate
The Aryan Gate
Church On The Castle
Church "On The Castle"
St.  Mary's Tower
St. Mary's Tower
Ruins Of The Monastery
Ruins Of The Monastery
Belfry
Belfry
Market Place
Market Place
New Hotel
New Hotel
Market Place
Market Place
Town Hall
Town Hall
Market Place
Market Place
Monument
Monument
Little Town Street
Little Town Street
Ruins Of The Monastery
Ruins Of The Monastery
Monument To Heroes
Monument To Heroes