Petrovichi ( _ru. Петровичи) is a village in
Shumyachsky Districtof Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located about 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of Moscowand 16 km east of the border between Belarusand Russia.
It is the birthplace of
Isaac Asimov. Asimov left at the age of three, with his parents and sister, migrating to the United States.
October Revolution, Petrovichi was a " shtetl" of Klimovichy" uyezd" (district) of Mogilev guberniyaof Imperial Russia. It was a historically Belarusian land, part of the Northwestern Kraiof the Russian Empire. Its population was half Jewish, half Belarusian. The town had both a church and a synagogue, each one with a school attached to it. By Asimov's memoirs, the place had never known of pogroms. There were amicable business connections, and even friendships, between the two communities. Asimov even reports non-Jews paying a friendly visit to the local synagogueon at least one occasion. TsarNicholas I (who ruled from 1825 to 1855) at one point ordered the expulsion of all Jewish people who resided in Great Russia, or Russiaproper, outside of the Pale of Settlement. However, a rich and powerful Russian landlord, who owned much land on both sides of the border, saved the Jewish community of Petrovichi from " ethnic cleansing" by illegally moving the border marker from the west to the east of the shtetl. Thus he saved half of the people of the town from much suffering, and he also saved himself from losing their talents and skills. Petrovichi was an important hub of the wheat trade, and Jewish traders in wheat were respected for their honesty and efficiency. Petrovichi became part of Belarus for several decades. After WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the ensuing civil wars were over, the town became part of Russia again, but now there were no more bans on Jewish people living anywhere in that country.
In 1941, Petrovichi was occupied by the German armies. Those Jewish inhabitants who did not flee in time were killed.
During the Soviet times the settlement briefly belonged to
Gomelguberniya of the Russian SFSR, then it was transferred to Smolensk Oblastof the RSFSR, and the population dwindled significantly.
*"In Memory Yet Green" by
Isaac Asimov, 1979, ISBN 0-385-13679-X
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Look at other dictionaries:
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