Lutsk is a city in Volhynia, the Ukraine and is situated on the river Styr, 470 km from Kyiv.
During World War I the Jews suffered both from the armies and from war devastation, as the town changed hands several times and was occupied by Russian and German troops.
Between the world wars the Lutsk community led a rich religious and cultural life as well as several social and medical organizations, some of which were assisted by Lutsk landsmanshaften in U.S.A.
In June 1940 the Soviet authorities uncovered the Zionist Gordonia underground and imprisoned its leaders. Many refugees who had fled to Lutsk from Nazi-occupied western Poland were deported to the Soviet Interior. When the German-Soviet War broke out on June 22, 1941, many young Jews left together with the retreating Soviet forces. The town fell to the Germans on June 26, and a few days later some 2,000 Jews were murdered.
On July 4th, 3,000 Jews were put to death in the nearby fortress (zamek) of Lubart. A ghetto was established in December 1941 and the Jewish leaders made every effort to alleviate starvation and control epidemics.
In the spring of 1942 a group of young Jews attempted to escape from the ghetto to the forests, but most of them were caught and murdered by the Ukrainians. A few, however, managed to join the Soviet partisans and fought the Germans as part of the Kowpak units.
Meanwhile the Germans carried out the large-scale action in which the majority of the Lutsk Ghetto was murdered (19-23 August 1942). About 17,000 Jews were led to the Polanka Hill, on the outskirts of the city, and massacred. The remaining 500 Jews, who were employed as artisans in the labour camp, were executed on 12 December 1942.
In June 1940 the Soviet authorities uncovered the Zionist Gordonia underground and imprisoned its leaders.