'"...On the 22nd of June, 1941, the Nazis attacked Lithuania but the news didn't reach Radnitsa until the next day when the refugees from Liskovo and Lipen arrived. There was nowhere to run, however, as the Nazis had already taken Vilna and the Kaunas fortress. Everyone stayed in their own homes. The Nazis, may their names be blotted out, used the Radnitsers for slave labor, clearing out forests. In November, 1942, in the middle of the night, the Nazis took the Jews to the barracks near Grodno. Passing the shul, the Radnitsa Jews decided it would be better to die there. The Nazis began to shoot and several Jews died. The elders advised that they continue walking and they reached Kobas, which is behind Grodno, and from there to Treblinka. Except for a few, all the Radnitsers were gassed, old, young, men, women and children..."
Ratnycia was where members of my Frenkel (Frankel) family lived from the mid 1700s until WW II and the Holocaust. It was a small village, that at its largest, consisted of thirty or so families. Many of these families emigrated in the great emigration between 1880 and 1920, usually to the United States. But in the Yad va-Shem Central Database of the Shoah, we find testimony about the murder of the remaining inhabitants of Ratnycia, descendants of those same families who we find in Lithuanian Revision Lists going back to 1834.
Druskieniki (Druskininkai) was a spa town that has now absorbed Ratnycia. Already in the late 20th century, some of the Ratnycia families had moved to Druskieniki.
The purpose of this project is to remember a world that is no longer and to honor our relatives who perished in the Holocaust, as well as to help us, the descendants of the Ratnycia families, to learn about our history. I will be going to visit Ratnycia shortly and hope to include photographs of the cemetery, where it is reported there are still visible Hebrew inscriptions.
Geography and Demographics
Ratnycia was a small village 8 miles to the southwest of Merkine, close to Druskininkai, a resort town, 13 miles SW of Merkine. It was associated with the Merkine Jewish Community (noted as such on the Revision Lists). Its inhabitants were listed separately in some of the Revision Lists and listed with Merkine in one of them. It has been absorbed into Druskininkai in the 20th century. There were a handful of Jewish families living in Ratnycia. Other spellings of the name include Radnitsa and Rotniza and those from Ratnycia were referrred to as Rotnizers.
A 20th century native of the village describes the village in this document. According to the author, "Marriages were arranged with others from Merkine, Baltrimanz, Lipen, Lozdzieje, Nominik and on occasion, Grodno."
Nearby towns and villages, as noted, included Merkine (13 miles NE) Population 1900, Leipalingis (Leipun, Lipen) Population 200, Nemunaitis (Nemoneitz) Population 350, Druskieniki, a spa town, population 600 (9.9 miles W), Grodno Population and Lazdijai (Lozdzieje) Population 1500.
In the 1834-1842 Revision List, there were 198 Jewish inhabitants listed in Ratnycia, the majority of whom had -ov/ovski/ski suffixes. The vast majority were toponymic surnames, from Trakai or nearby regions or from Belarus, e.g., Iagustovski "from Augustow" and a few were derived from a given name, occupation, or personal nickname, e.g., Mordusovski "(son) of Mordechai. Surnames were likely just being imposed in that era. Of the 198 Jewish inhabitants in the 1834-1842 RL, 49 of them were from our Frankel (Frenkel) family, whose surname was maintained from their Franconian Medieval origin. According to Alexander Beider, those who had older toponymic surnames like Frankel in the Russian Empire were usually rabbinical families.
In the 1858 Revision List, residents of Ratnycia are listed under Merkine. There are 74 Frenkels in 1858, all the Ratnycia Frenkel family.
The Joint Distribution District Committee (JDDC), Rotnitzer Vohed Hkhol Committee, is undated but presumably from the early 20th century.
Many of the surnames listed in the Ratnycia / Merkine Revision Lists in the 19th century are associated with Druskieniki later: Oransky, Frenkel, Kovalski, Dubinsky, Mizrakh, Romanov, and Rotnitzsky.
Other Ratnycia Familes listed in the Revision Lists or JDDC
- Abelov (Abelow), 1834; 1858; Abelovich in 1874/75 with Abelov in Varena
- Barabatzic / Barabeichik 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Bliakh 1834; 1858
- Blokh 1834; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Brenholtz / Brengolts 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Cohen Joint Distribution District Committee
- Druchkunski 1834;
- Dubitsky / Dubinsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household); Joint Distribution District Committee
- Fegelpekofski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Frank 1874/75
- Frenkel 1834; 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Gazonski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Gershtein 1874/75
- Goldberg 1874/75
- Goldov 1834; possibly 1858 under Goldovich
- Golenpol 1874/75
- Golunski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Iagustovski 1834;
- Iedvabnitski 1874/75
- Ilgovsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Iofe / Yofe 1874/75
- Isvonski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Iakirovich 1834
- Kaplin Joint Distribution District Committee
- Karab / Karap Joint Distribution District Committee
- Karanafski / Kornevski / Karnevski 1874/57; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Karash / Karach Joint Distribution District Committee
- Katz Joint Distribution District Committee
- Khavin 1834;
- Khlebovich 1874/75
- Koplon Joint Distribution District Committee
- Koram 1874/75
- Korpelski (prob. Kornevski) 1874/75
- Kozlovich 1874/75
- Krishtalsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Krivalski 1874/75
- Kubitsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household); in Varena 1874/74; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Kvint / Kvinta 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Lapuner Joint Distribution District Committee
- Lipshits 1874/75
- Lis / Liess / Leiss 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Lishkovski 1834;
- Liubetski 1874/75
- Liveite / Leveite 1874/75
- Maliovski 1834;
- Maslovski 1874/75
- Matzevitzki Joint Distribution District Committee
- Merkel 1874/75
- Miklishanski 1874/75
- Mints 1874/75
- Mirski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Mizrakh 1874/75
- Montvilitzki 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Mordusovski 1834;
- Niselevitz /Niseliovich 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Nosanovich 1874/75
- Odents 1874/75
- Oranski 1874/75
- Ostranski 1874/75
- Parafski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Peretski 1874/75
- Pintel 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Prenski 1834; 1858
- Privalski / Provalski 1874/75
- Prosovski 1834;
- Pugatsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Romanov 1834; 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rosanski / Rusanski / Rosinsky/ Roshansky / Rushanski / Ruzhanski 1834; 1858;1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rosenberg Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rotnits / Rotnitski 1834; 1874/75 Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rubinovich 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Sagalov 1834;
- Sapozhnik 1874/75
- Seltzer Joint Distribution District Committee
- Shabonski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Shcherbak 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Shchitsiul 1874/75
- Shkliarski 1874/75
- Shulberg Joint Distribution District Committee
- Shvitski 1834; 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Siderski 1834; 1858
- Solatski 1834; 1858
- Soleveichik 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Stovnas Joint Distribution District Committee
- Treger 1874/75
- Vaseiski 1834; 1858
- Zhirachishski / Zhuratishsky / Zuratsiski 1834; 1858; 1874/75
- Zhivulchishki 1834;1858
- Zilberman 1874/75
- Zilberzhenig 1874/75
Ratnycia Residents who Perished in the Holocaust
200 Jews from Ratnycia were killed, along with a large number of Jews from neighboring Druskieniki. Ratnycia is described as a residential town associated with Druskieniki by the time of WW II, so it's unclear whether remaining Frenkels lived in Ratnycia or Druskieniki. The Jews of Druskieniki/Ratnycia were taken to the Kielbasin Transit camp in 1942 and from there most were sent to Treblinka. Leib Frenkel of Druskieniki was on the Judenrat and was head of the transit camp. Aron Frenkel from Druskieniki led a small group of partisans who fought the Nazis. Several Frenkels from Druskieniki perished in Auschwitz - Leah Frankel, daughter of Meir, born 1900, died Auschwitz 1942; Hirsh Frenkel son of Dina, born 1904, died at Treblinka or Auschwitz in 1943
- Several members of the Romanov family (Frida nee Rushanski and her husband Hirsh Romanov, both born in 1910, died Auschwitz in 1942)
- Several members of the the Rushanski / Rosanski family (Yenta nee Godovski, Efrayim, Roza (Shoshana) nee Frank, Yehuda, Rakhel, Nisan, Tamar). One member survived and gave testimony.
- Several members of the Berebeichik family
Famous People Associated with Ratnycia and Druskieniki
- Jacques Lipchitz, born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz in Druskieniki in 1891, a leading Cubist sculptor.
- Rabbi Isaac Margolis (R' Yitzkhak Margaliot) of Merkine, Rabbi of Druskieniki for a short period in the 1890s, relative by marriage to the Frankel family of Ratnycia. He was the first cousin of Chava Margolis, wife of Yosel Frankel son of Abram b.c. 1817.
- Translation of “Druskieniki” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin Published by Yad Vashem
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Campsand Ghettos ... By Geoffrey P. Megargee, Christopher Browning, Martin Dean
- Story of Yisrael Mei-Tal (Montwiliski) who was born in 1932 in Druskieniki, Poland, to Alexander Montvilitzki and Berta Pinchuk. Photographic memory of fleeing the Holocaust and his clandestine immigration to Palestine.
- A list of Meretch Jews murdered in the Holocaust
- Understanding the literature of World War II by James H. Meredith page 193 includes an interview with Paul Frank about the destruction of Druskieniki and Ratnycia during the Holocaust and about the Romanov and Frank families. He notes that there are still gravestones with inscriptions in the Ratnycia cemetery.
- The destruction of the Druskininkai Ghetto