In 1648, the rampaging Cossacks, led by Bogdan Chmielnicki (the Jewish pronunciation is Chelminitzki), massacred 6,000 Jews in Nemirov, Poland. Chmielnicki's hatred of Jews was inflamed from the time he planned a revolution against the Polish government; a Jew overheard and reported the plot, and Chmielnicki was led to prison in chains and sentenced to death for treason. But before the verdict could be carried out, the king of Poland died. Chmielnicki escaped and led the Cossacks to defeat the Polish army, attacking and murdering Jews at every opportunity. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed by the Cossack hordes, and approximately 500,000 Jews were murdered. Elegies ("Kinot") written by great rabbis of the time compare this tragic epoch to the destruction of the Holy Temple. This would be the most bitter time for Polish Jewry for several centuries... until 1942.
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