Biography

Nathan Bogopolsky is listed in official records as a native of Golovanevsk, Ukraine. Whether he actually lived there, or whether he was listed for registration purposes is not known. Nathan was born on August 1, 1870. His wife, Golda (also called Olga) was born in 1880, but we don’t have an exact date.

Later, we know that Nathan and his family lived in Astrakhan. At some point the family may also have lived in Odessa. One possible reason for the multiple relocations may have been the anti-Jewish pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th century.

For example, on October 21-24, 1905, a pogrom took place in Bogopol. The Jewish town was looted and burned. During the pogrom, the ancient Torah scroll was destroyed. Again, on December 19, 1919, another pogrom took place, and many Jews were killed.

But we know that by 1899 the family was in Astrakhan

We currently know very little of Nathan or Golda’s parents. Nathan’s father was called Yakev, or Yacov, and his mother was Brayne. Golda’s parents were David and Esther Gorokhovsky. The Gorochovskys had two sons we know of: Sholem and Mayer (not to be confused with Mayer Bogopolsky). As was customary at the time, Nathan and Golda named their first son after Yakev: Yacov Bogopolsky, later Jacques Bolsey.

Nathan Bogopolsky and his wife’s father David Gorokhovsky had a family business together in Astrakhan.

According to records, from 1909 to 1912 Nathan was apprenticed to an apothecary at what was called the Astrakhan Free Pharmacy. Around the same time, and until about 1916, Nathan had a drugstore in Astrakhan, possibly with his father-in-law. He bought the pharmacy from a well-known German resident of Astrakhan named Gellert. During this period he was also head of a community group providing assistance to poor Jews. We have a document showing that on November 24, 1912, Nathan graduated from the medical faculty of the Imperial Kazan University and received a degree as a pharmaceutical assistant.

After the revolution, Nathan’s pharmacy was confiscated by the state. Nathan continued to work as a pharmacist, but now in “his” state-owned pharmacy.

This continued until 1927, when they sold the apartment of Golda’s parents in Astrakhan and moved to Kislovodsk. In the city of Kislovodsk, Nathan worked as the head of the central pharmacy.

Kislovodsk is and was then a spa city, famous for its mineral waters. Both in Tsarist Russia and during the Soviet period, people were treated there for various ailments.

Nathan and Golda lived in Kislovodsk from 1927 to 1942, when, along with their daughter, Emma, they were killed by invading Nazi forces.

Nathan and Golda had five children:

Yacov was born on December 17, 1895, possibly in Kiev, but more likely in Zlatopol, finished Astrakhan real school in 1913 and entered the Faculty of Medicine in in Geneva, Switzerland in October 1914.

Isaac was born on June 17, 1898 in Astrakhan. Isaac finished the men’s gymnasium (high school) №1 in Astrakhan in 1915.

Samuel was born on September 2, 1899 in Astrakhan, and finished the men’s gymnasium №1 in Astrakhan in 1917. He went to Petrograd Institute of Technology in St.Petersburg in 1917.

Alexander was born on January 16, 1902 in Astrakhan. We don’t have detailed information about his early education but we know he had a medical degree and from 1933 until 1938 he worked in a clinic of Novorossiysk seaport. We have a photo of him in front of the clinic.

Emma Bogopolskaya was the youngest child. We have varying years of birth for her, from 1910-11 to 1919, but it’s most likely that Emma was born on January 15, 1919 in Astrakhan.

The family wasn’t deeply religious, but they were Jews and observed religious norms. We have circumcision records for the boys. They were given Hebrew names, and, in the case of the boys, these followed the tradition of naming the child after a grandfather or other close ancestor: Yacov, in honor of his grandfather who was Yakev Bogopolsky, Isaak, in honor of Nathan’s brother), Samuel (Shmuel), in honor of his great grandfather Shmuel Elieyzer Bogopolsky. 

Nathan and Golda seem to have been quite prosperous prior to World War I and the Russian Revolution. Nathan owned a pharmacy – possibly in partnership with his father-in-law. Later, he may have been involved in a paper factory. They were able to send their oldest son to Switzerland to complete his education. In the period before the Russian revolution the family appears, judging from photographs, to have been reasonably well-off. 

By the  late 1920s it appears that they had become nearly destitute, and were relying upon their children for support. 

And we know that Yacov, at university in Geneva, suddenly had to fend for himself financially.

In passing it is worth noting that many Jewish families strove to send their sons out of Russia for higher education, because most universities inside czarist Russia limited Jews to around 5% of the student body.

Isaac, for example, could only study in a provincial university, rather than in St. Petersburg, which at the time was the capital of Russia. So, he and his brother Alexander attended medical school in the city of Saratov, a large provincial hub.

In the mid-1920s the family moved from Astrakhan to Kislovodsk, now in eastern Ukraine. This move may have been prompted by famines which struck the region of Astrakhan following the revolution.

Nathan and Golda, together with their youngest child, Emma, were murdered in September, 1942, when the Jews of Kislovodsk were nearly all massacred by invading Nazi forces. Alexander was arrested by the Soviet NKVD in early 1938 and shot in the fall of the same year. For more on this, please see the page on Holocaust and Soviet Terror on this site.

 

 
Yacov left Russia in 1912 to study medicine in Geneva, Switzerland.

Once World War I broke out, followed by the Russian Revolution, Yacov was effectively cut off from his family in Russia – a situation that was to continue with few breaks for the rest of his life. In Switzerland, Yacov made a living as a portrait artist while attending medical school. (more at Yacov’s page)

 


Isaac became a medical doctor, specializing in pediatrics. He also completed an engineering degree. He was a significant figure in the development of X-rays as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool in Russian medicine. As a result, he was allowed on at least one occasion to travel to Europe professionally. (more at Issac’s page)

 


Samuel was born on September 2, 1899 in Astrakhan. From 1910 to 1917 he studied at the Astrakhan first gymnasium. Samuel graduated from high school with highest marks and was awarded the highest distinction of the most successful students.

In 1917, he became a student at the Petrograd Technological Institute (Petrograd, Leningrad, and St. Petersburg are all the same city). (more at Samuel’s page)

 

 

Alexander became a doctor, married twice, and had a son, Maior (Meyer), who served as Shipmaster in the Russian Merchant Marine. Alexander was denounced during the Stalinist purges of the Great Terror and subsequently shot. (more at Alexander’s page)

 

 

 

Emma. We have the least information about Emma, the youngest child and Nathan and Golda’s only daughter. What we do know is that she was also born in Astrakhan, probably in 1919, that she was studying at university and planing to become a doctor like several of her brothers, when German forces invaded Russia. In the fall of 1942, at the age of 23, she was killed along with her parents in the massacre at Kivlodosk. (more at Emma’s page)  

 

Nathan Bogopolsky is listed in official records as a native of Golovanevsk, Ukraine. Whether he actually lived there, or whether he was listed for registration purposes is not known. Nathan was born on August 1, 1870. His wife, Golda (also called Olga) was born in 1880, but we don’t have an exact date.

Later, we know that Nathan and his family lived in Astrakhan. At some point the family may also have lived in Odessa. One possible reason for the multiple relocations may have been the anti-Jewish pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th century.

For example, on October 21-24, 1905, a pogrom took place in Bogopol. The Jewish town was looted and burned. During the pogrom, the ancient Torah scroll was destroyed. Again, on December 19, 1919, another pogrom took place, and many Jews were killed.

But we know that by 1899 the family was in Astrakhan

We currently know very little of Nathan or Golda’s parents. Nathan’s father was called Yakev, or Yacov, and his mother was Brayne. Golda’s parents were David and Esther Gorokhovsky. The Gorochovskys had two sons we know of: Sholem and Mayer (not to be confused with Mayer Bogopolsky). As was customary at the time, Nathan and Golda named their first son after Yakev: Yacov Bogopolsky, later Jacques Bolsey.

Nathan Bogopolsky and his wife’s father David Gorokhovsky had a family business together in Astrakhan.

According to records, from 1909 to 1912 Nathan was apprenticed to an apothecary at what was called the Astrakhan Free Pharmacy. Around the same time, and until about 1916, Nathan had a drugstore in Astrakhan, possibly with his father-in-law. He bought the pharmacy from a well-known German resident of Astrakhan named Gellert. During this period he was also head of a community group providing assistance to poor Jews. We have a document showing that on November 24, 1912, Nathan graduated from the medical faculty of the Imperial Kazan University and received a degree as a pharmaceutical assistant.

After the revolution, Nathan’s pharmacy was confiscated by the state. Nathan continued to work as a pharmacist, but now in “his” state-owned pharmacy.

This continued until 1927, when they sold the apartment of Golda’s parents in Astrakhan and moved to Kislovodsk. In the city of Kislovodsk, Nathan worked as the head of the central pharmacy.

Kislovodsk is and was then a spa city, famous for its mineral waters. Both in Tsarist Russia and during the Soviet period, people were treated there for various ailments.

Nathan and Golda lived in Kislovodsk from 1927 to 1942, when, along with their daughter, Emma, they were killed by invading Nazi forces.

Nathan and Golda had five children:

Yacov was born on December 17, 1895, possibly in Kiev, but more likely in Zlatopol, finished Astrakhan real school in 1913 and entered the Faculty of Medicine in in Geneva, Switzerland in October 1914.

Isaac was born on June 17, 1898 in Astrakhan. Isaac finished the men’s gymnasium (high school) №1 in Astrakhan in 1915.

Samuel was born on September 2, 1899 in Astrakhan, and finished the men’s gymnasium №1 in Astrakhan in 1917. He went to Petrograd Institute of Technology in St.Petersburg in 1917.

Alexander was born on January 16, 1902 in Astrakhan. We don’t have detailed information about his early education but we know he had a medical degree and from 1933 until 1938 he worked in a clinic of Novorossiysk seaport. We have a photo of him in front of the clinic.

Emma Bogopolskaya was the youngest child. We have varying years of birth for her, from 1910-11 to 1919, but it’s most likely that Emma was born on January 15, 1919 in Astrakhan.

The family wasn’t deeply religious, but they were Jews and observed religious norms. We have circumcision records for the boys. They were given Hebrew names, and, in the case of the boys, these followed the tradition of naming the child after a grandfather or other close ancestor: Yacov, in honor of his grandfather who was Yakev Bogopolsky, Isaak, in honor of Nathan’s brother), Samuel (Shmuel), in honor of his great grandfather Shmuel Elieyzer Bogopolsky. 

Nathan and Golda seem to have been quite prosperous prior to World War I and the Russian Revolution. Nathan owned a pharmacy – possibly in partnership with his father-in-law. Later, he may have been involved in a paper factory. They were able to send their oldest son to Switzerland to complete his education. In the period before the Russian revolution the family appears, judging from photographs, to have been reasonably well-off. 

By the  late 1920s it appears that they had become nearly destitute, and were relying upon their children for support. 

And we know that Yacov, at university in Geneva, suddenly had to fend for himself financially.

In passing it is worth noting that many Jewish families strove to send their sons out of Russia for higher education, because most universities inside czarist Russia limited Jews to around 5% of the student body.

Isaac, for example, could only study in a provincial university, rather than in St. Petersburg, which at the time was the capital of Russia. So, he and his brother Alexander attended medical school in the city of Saratov, a large provincial hub.

In the mid-1920s the family moved from Astrakhan to Kislovodsk, now in eastern Ukraine. This move may have been prompted by famines which struck the region of Astrakhan following the revolution.

Nathan and Golda, together with their youngest child, Emma, were murdered in September, 1942, when the Jews of Kislovodsk were nearly all massacred by invading Nazi forces. Alexander was arrested by the Soviet NKVD in early 1938 and shot in the fall of the same year. For more on this, please see the page on Holocaust and Soviet Terror on this site.

 

  Yacov left Russia in 1912 to study medicine in Geneva, Switzerland.

Once World War I broke out, followed by the Russian Revolution, Yacov was effectively cut off from his family in Russia – a situation that was to continue with few breaks for the rest of his life. In Switzerland, Yacov made a living as a portrait artist while attending medical school. (more at Yacov’s page)

Isaac became a medical doctor, specializing in pediatrics. He also completed an engineering degree. He was a significant figure in the development of X-rays as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool in Russian medicine. As a result, he was allowed on at least one occasion to travel to Europe professionally. (more at Issac’s page)

Samuel was born on September 2, 1899 in Astrakhan. From 1910 to 1917 he studied at the Astrakhan first gymnasium. Samuel graduated from high school with highest marks and was awarded the highest distinction of the most successful students.

In 1917, he became a student at the Petrograd Technological Institute (Petrograd, Leningrad, and St. Petersburg are all the same city).  (more at Samuel’s page)

Alexander became a doctor, married twice, and had a son, Maior (Meyer), who served as Shipmaster in the Russian Merchant Marine. Alexander was denounced during the Stalinist purges of the Great Terror and subsequently shot. (more at Alexander’s page)

Emma. We have the least information about Emma, the youngest child and Nathan and Golda’s only daughter. What we do know is that she was also born in Astrakhan, probably in 1919, that she was studying at university and planing to become a doctor like several of her brothers, when German forces invaded Russia. In the fall of 1942, at the age of 23, she was killed along with her parents in the massacre at Kivlodosk. (more at Emma’s page)