||Poetry about World War II and about the town of Kostopol written in Yiddish with Latin characters by Meir Grinszpan. Kostopol (German: Kostopil, Ukrainian: Костопіль, Russian Костополь) is a town, originally named Ostlec Wielki or Ostaltsi, on the Zamchys'ke river. It is the administrative centre of Kostopilskyi Raion in Rivne Oblast, in western Ukraine. There are just over 30,000 inhabitants.
It was the property of Prince Władysław Dominik Zasławski and is initially mentioned in 1648-58 registers. It was originally a village based on a local iron mine, but in 1792 the local landowner, Leonard Wortzel, obtained town privileges for his estate including the right for an annual fair from Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At this time Wortzel changed the town's name to Kostopol. After the Polish revolution of 1860, many Germans migrated from Poland to Volhynia for their safety and because land was available for purchase. The land between Anielowka and Kostopol contained many German villages.
Settlement in the town was encouraged but it stagnated until a railway station was opened on the Rovno - Vilna line in the late 1890s. The railway promoted the establishment of new industries such as flour mills, oil pressing, spinning mill, sawmill, and a match factory. Development was interrupted in 1906 when a fire destroyed most of the town's buildings. Afterwards, most new construction used bricks.
The town had become a centre for Jewish settlement and this continued until World War II, when about 40% (about 4000) of the population were Jewish. Although World War I isolated Kostopol from the west, the subsequent German occupation promoted economic development, which continued post-war when the town became the local administrative centre in 1925. The town had been included in Poland after the end of the war. By the end of the 1920s, there were three timber yards (two of them Jewish owned, one government owned), three plywood factories (Jewish owned), two furniture factories, two glass factories, two agriculture machinery works, three flour mills (two Jewish owned), two oil presses, four tar and turpentine factories and a brick factory operating in Kostopol. In nearby Janova Dolina, there were granite and basalt quarries, with railway links to Kostopol station. The Polish government started housing projects for the quarry workers.
The Germans occupied Kostopol on 1st July 1941 and immediately there was a pogrom against the local Jews, perpetrated by local Ukrainians. The Germans progressively degraded the Jews' position and condition, by enforcing the wearing of yellow stars, imposing forced labour and confiscating Jewish property. On 16 August 1941, the Germans rounded up 470 of the most influential Jews in the community and transported them out of Kostopol, where they were all executed. Another 1400, relations of those who had been executed, were arrested on 1st October and also taken away and killed.
A ghetto was established in Kostopol on 5 October 1941. Despite the great over-crowding, there were no epidemics. One hundred Jews, Judenrat members, Jewish Police and key professionals, were exempt and were allowed to live outside the ghetto. The ghetto was liquidated on 25 August 1942. Ukrainian and German police surrounded the ghetto. The ghetto was emptied and the remaining inhabitants were transported to Khotinka, a nearby village, and exterminated upon arrival. A few managed to escape but they were caught by local Ukrainians, returned to the Germans and murdered.
On 24 August, in Kostopol's forced labour camp, 700 Jewish labourers, led by Gedalia Braier, revolted during the daily census. When Brajer shouted "Hura!", he started a mass escape attempt. Some reached the nearby forest, but most of them were caught and killed by local Ukrainians. Some survived with the help of Polish villagers and joined Soviet partisan units. Less than ten survived the war.
Kostopol was liberated by the Red Army on 31 January 1944. Only about 270 Kostopol Jews had survived the German occupation, including those who had escaped eastwards before the mass killings.