Yurii Kaparulin and Les Kasyanov created a striking documentary.

— Wendy Lower.

Directors: Les Kasyanov, Yurii Kaparulin.
Duration: 29 min.
Year: 2020.

In the middle of the steppes of Kherson region lies a railway station called Kalinindorf. In 1927 the “all-Union elder” Mikhail Kalinin came here to establish the Jewish national district. To honor this event the inhabitants of Velyka Seidemynukha renamed their village to Kalinindorf.

The Film

In 1924 Soviet government launched a campaign for resettlement of the Jews to the steppes of Southern Ukraine. Restoration of Yiddish language and the new proletarian philosophy were in the limelight of the Ukrainian Jewish kolkhozes which got ideological names. In Southern Ukraine five Jewish national districts were created. In the steppes between the Dnipro and Kherson, as well as in the north of the Crimean peninsula more than 100,000 Jews were employed.

Over a period of 1930s all the state campaigns for supporting various nations of the country like Ukrainization or Jewization were cancelled. On August 27, 1941, Kalinindorf was occupied by the German army. Right afterwards, the Nazis began executing Jews who didn’t manage to evacuate.

After the WWII the Kremlin passed a resolution: a whole people suffered as a single whole. Therefore accepting the uniqueness of the Jewish people's tragedy was considered as a claim to national exclusiveness. In reports about the crimes of the Nazis any record of Jews were deleted. A euphemism “peaceful Soviet citizens” was used instead.

Today Kalinindorf has a neutral name Kalynivske. Only ruins of the ancient synagogue remind us of Jewish collective farms. As well as the director of the local museum, who keeps preserving the history of these lands.

The Team

Yirii Kaparulin

Yurii Kaparulin is a historian, PhD, professor at the State University of Kherson, head of the Raphael Lemkin Center for Genocide Studies. He has been researching the history of Jewish agricultural settlements in southern Ukraine for the past five years. For the film Yurii acted as producer and researcher.

Les Kasyanov

Les Kasyanov is a photographer and filmmaker who has been working with the French historical organization Yahad—In Unum since 2011 collecting evidences about the Holocaust. Les was responsible for principal photography, sound and editing.

During the expedition the team visited the following villages: Lvovo, Bobrovyi Kut, Mala Seidemynukha (ex Sterndorf), Suvore (ex Chervona Zirka, the Red Star), Kalynivske (ex Velyka Seidemynukha, Kalinindorf, Kalininske). Some episodes were not included to the film. They are available as separate series.


Mykola Iatsenko and Larysa Diakiv tell the story about Jewish life in Lvove village (Ukraine, Kherson oblast).


Museum of Khesed Shmuel in Kherson and the history of the Jewish agrarian settlements in Kherson region.

Jewish House

The director of the museum of Kalinindorf tells the story about an ancient Jewish house in Mala Seydemynukha village (Ukraine, Kherson oblast).


2nd episode of cut scenes from the documentary “Kalinindorf”. This time the story is about former Jewish colony #16, which was included to Kalinindorf Jewish national district under the name of Chervona Zirka (Red Star). Today the village is called Suvore and is situated in Mykolaiv oblast. The director of Hesed (Kherson) Oleksander Weiner shares his family story.

Mala Seydemynukha

The director of the museum of Kalinindorf tells about the name of a Jewish village of Mala Seydemynukha (Ukraine, Kherson oblast).

The Museum of Kalinindorf

Volodymyr Zavodnianyi, the director of the museum of Kalinindorf shows his museum in Kalynivske (Ukraine, Kherson oblast) and tells the story about Jewish life in the village.

Synagogues of Mala Seidemynukha

Volodymyr Zavodnianyi, the director of the museum of Kalinindorf shows the places of Jewish life in Mala Seidemynukha (Ukraine, Kherson oblast).

Bobrovyi Kut

The team speaks with the inhabitants of Bobrovyi Kut (Kherson oblast, Ukraine), a former Jewish village, which was included to Kalinindorf Jewish national district. Between Bobrovyi Kut and Iehvenivka there is an ancient well, where during the Holocaust 917 Jews were killed by the nazis.