Five of the Boys came from the town, which is known as Velky Bockov in Czech, Nagybocsko in Hungarian, Bocicoiu Mare in Romanian and Bitshkof in Yiddish.
Velykyi Boychik is a village in the Zakarpattia Oblast region in south-western Ukraine, very close to the border with Romania. It is about 11 kilometres from Solotvyno and about 38 kilometres from Tyachiv. Other towns in the region of the Carpathian Mountains, home to members of the Boys, include Mukachevo, Uzhorod, Berehove, Vynohradiv, and Svaljus.
Until the end of World War I, Velky Bockov belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire. During the period between the two World Wars it was part of Czechoslovakia. During World War II, it was occupied by Hungary. At the end of the war it became part of the Ukrainian republic of U.S.S.R.
PRE-WAR VELKY BOCKOV
Jews probably settled in Velky Bockov in the first half of the 18th century.
Two families were present in 1728, after which there was no record of Jews for over a century. This was probably due to the death of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Josef II in 1790. He had granted certain privileges and freedom of worship to the Jews through his "edict of tolerance", issued in 1782. After his death, however, there were attempts to banish Jews from the region. There was no record of Jews in Velky Bockov until the mid-19th century.
In 1880, the Jewish population was 520, out of a total population of 3,605. By 1921, during the Czechoslovakian period, the Jewish population rose to 1,092.
Jewish families earned their livelihood mainly through trade and crafts. A number of Jews were professionals and government officials. The Zionist youth organizations were active and had branches in Velky Bockov
In 1941, the Jewish population was 1,708.
Following the Munich Agreement in 1938, Czechoslovakia was divided up, and in March 1939, Velky Bockov and the surrounding area were annexed by Hungary. Velky Bockov was now known by it Hungarian name of Nagybocskó.
The Hungarians were pro-German, and imposed laws restricting Jewish access to education, trade, and the professions. Many Jews were persecuted and pushed out of their occupations. Jewish businesses were taken over by Hungarians but many remained closed.
In 1940, dozens of Jews from Nagybocsko were drafted into Hungarian Labour Battalions for forced labour or service on the eastern front, where many died.
In the summer of 1941, the Hungarian authorities identified as “alien” more than 100 Nagybocsko Jewish families unable to prove Hungarian citizenship, mainly the poorest ones, and deported them to Kamenets-Podolski in German occupied Ukraine, where they were murdered in August 1941
In March 1944, the Nazis occupied Hungary and installed a puppet government.
At the beginning of April of that year all the Jews in Hungary were ordered to wear the yellow badge on their clothes. In the same month, Jews from Nagybocsko were forced into the local synagogue, where they were kept for three days before being taken to the Mátészalka ghetto in present-day Hungary. They were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp in occupied Poland in late May, 1944.
When the trains arrived in Birkenau a selection was made on the ramp. It offered healthy young men and women a chance of survival as they were often selected for slave labour.
An estimated 85% of the Jews of Subcarpathian Ruthenia perished in the Holocaust. The fact that the Subcarpathian Jews arrived six months before the camp was liberated in January 1945, greatly increased their chance of survival.
In the autumn of 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered Nagybocsko and liberated it from the Germans.
In 1945, after the Second World War, the Carpathians were annexed by the Soviet Union. Nagybocsko became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and was from then onwards known as Velykyi Bychkiv in Ukrainian.
The majority of the Jews from Velykyi Bychkiv were murdered in Auschwitz and most survivors settled elsewhere. A small Jewish community existed here until 1950.
PRESENT-DAY VELYKYI BYCHKIV
In 2016, Velykyi Bychkiv had about 9,300 inhabitants. No Jews live here today.