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Kopys is a town in Orsha region, located on the bank of the Dnieper River. In 1998 the town’s population was 1,200 people.

Kopys was first mentioned in chronicles in 1059. According to the first all-Russian census, held in 1897, Kopys had 3,384 residents, 1,399 of them – Jewish (41.34% of the total population), in 1917 – 5,644 residents (1,876 - Jewish, 32%), in 1923 – 3,363 residents, in 1926 – 3,584 residents (1,176 – Jewish, 33%), in 1977 – 5,700 residents, in 1994 – 5,200.

At the end of the 15th century Kopys had its own tile production, which developed over the ages and became the town’s trademark. The first tile factories were founded here in the middle of the 19th century to produce oven and fireplace decorations and statues. In the second half of the 19th century there were 18 factories, 15 of which were owned by Jews. The first well-known tile factory was established in 1860 and belonged to a man, whose last name was Peselnik. In 1898 it employed 131 people. Four years later Ginzburg’s tile factory was opened, which in 1898 employed 30 people. The following factories sprang up later: Shevelev’s in 1870 (30 workers in 1895), Gurevich’s in 1874 (88 workers in 1990), Alperovich’s in 1880 (49 people in 1900), Kosoy’s in 1888 (25 workers in 1900), Shapiro’s in 1889 (86 people in 1900), Magin’s in 1894 (47 workers in 1898), Shalyta’s, Soloveichik’s and Zaretsky’s in 1897, Ioffe’s in 1898 (38 workers in 1898).

At the beginning of the 20th century around 800 people were working at tile factories, about one-third of them – Jews.

At the beginning of the 19th century a brewery was opened in Kopys, some time later – flour and cereal production (the town had two mills, which employed 15 people in 1900).

Jews appeared in Kopys not later than the 18th century. They were involved not only in tile production but also beer and wine production, fishing and trade. In 1785 Kopys had 18 Jewish wineries.

At the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century Kopys had a pharmacy (owner – Y. Belenky) and a pharmaceutical association (owner – Z.-Y. Livshiz). Almost all the shops were concentrated in Shklovskaya, Bazarnaya and Slobodskaya streets.

During the first Russian revolution Jewish residents from Kopys took an active part in strikes.

On June 29th, 1941 Kopys was occupied by German invaders. In December all the Jewish population had to move to a flax-mill, located 2 kilometers away from the town. The ghetto was guarded by Nazi policemen. According to witnesses, the ghetto had 250 people, who lived in extremely hard conditions. Some of the local residents helped the people in the ghetto, giving them food. In January, 1942, the Germans and the local policemen made a big ditch near the factory. The 250 Jewish residents were executed on January 12th.

From Y. Vinarskaya story: “I can clearly remember that day. I climbed onto the roof of my house and saw what was happening. The Jews were taken to the ditch; then they were forced to undress and shot in groups. The ground “was breathing” for four days that followed – there was steam coming out of the grave.”

According to N. Zeitlin, Rachil Abramovna Kunina, who was a teacher at the local Jewish school, shouted to the Nazis that the Red Army would come soon and take their vengeance.

The fascists were killing their victims in most cruel ways. For instance, Yeva Kosaya was tied to a horse, which was then made to run as fast as it could. Chernin, a tailor, found shelter with his two sons at the Vinarskys’ house. However, the owners were scared to hide the Jews and left. Nobody knows what happened to them, but it is easy to guess that if the Chernins were alive they would have come back to Kopys after the war and thank the people who helped them.

It is known that Hanon Gilin managed to escape before the execution but he was soon found by policemen and hanged. Tevie Shmerkin and his son Abram ran away the day before the execution (Abram was wounded). They survived and joined the partisan movement.

In 1973 a memorial tombstone was set up on the execution site.

In 1970 only 4 Jews lived in Kopys (0.25% of the total population).

The list of the people who perished in the ghetto was made with the help of Nicolay Lazarevich Zeitlin and Y. Semeshko.

Rachil Berkovich

Abram Berkovich

Tamara Getsova

Dina Getsova, her parents

Hanon Gilin

Stera Gilina

Riva Hononovna Gilina

Bella Gurevich

Fania Gurevich

Yakov Gurevich

Berl Dvorkin

Abram Dvorkin

Gita Dvorkina

Broha Dvorkina

Zlata Dvorkina

Luba Dvrokina

Basia Zeiger

Yakov Leibovich Zeiger

Afroim Ioffe, his wife and two daughters

Zalman Afroimovich Ioffe

Yeva Kosaya

Etil Kosaya

Moisey Kosoy

Rachil Abramovna Kunina

Yevel Melihan

Simon Yevelevich Melihan

Gerts Yevelevich Melihan

Isaak Merkin

Tsilya Merkina

Yelizaveta Isaakovna Merkina

Rysia Abramovna Kunina

Zalman Lizin

Faika Zalmanovich Lizin

Jehuda Arnovich Lizin

Girsha Aronovich Lizin

Rachelia Zalmanovna Lizina

Rosa Zalmanovna Lizina

(name unknown) Lizina (1939)

Maria Solovey

Zinaida Ioselevna Solovey

Elia Ioselevna Solovey

Moisey Sohrin

Genia Sohrina

Zlata Moiseyevna Sohrina

Hanna Moiseyevna Sohrina

Abrasha Hatskalevich Filgin

Rysia Felgina

Haya Hatskelevna Felgina

Broha Feiginstein

Fruma Abramovna Feinginstein

Girsh Tsalapihin

Fruma Girshevna Tsalapihina

Katia Shmyrkina

There are no Jews living in Kopys currently.

Arkady Podlipsky

Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region

Vitebsk Albrehtovo Babinovichi Baran Bayevo Begoml Beshenkovichi Bocheikovo Bogushevsk Borkovichi Braslav Bychiha Chashniki Disna Dobromysli Dokshitsy Druya Dubrovno Glubokoye Gorodok Kamen Kohanovo Kolyshki Kopys Krasnopolie Kublichi Lepel Liady Liozno Lukoml Luzhki Lyntupy Miory Obol Oboltsy Orsha Osintorf Ostrovno Parafianovo Plissa Polotsk Prozorki Senno Sharkovshina Shumilino Sirotino Slaveni Smolyany Surazh Tolochin Ulla Verhnedvinsk Vidzy Volyntsy Yanovichi Yezerishe Zhary Ziabki

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