Bohodukhiv (Bogodukhov) | Kharkiv

/ Lidia G., born in 1931 in Kharkiv:  I became friends with a Jewish girl, Nusia [Anna] Bekker, whose mother was Ukrainian and managed to get her Ukrainian papers. ” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Oleksandra F., born in 1924: “There was a Jewish man who worked at the factory. His name was Rubin. He had two children, a son, and a daughter. His son was in my class.”©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Yahad’s research team interviewing a witness. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The execution took place in this forest. Today, a memorial marks the spot where the massacre of 35 Jews happened on June 23, 1942. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The memorial at the execution site in Bohodukhiv.   ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Drone view of the forest where the massacre took place. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Bohodukhiv

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Pine forest
Period of occupation:
1941 – 1943
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Oleksandra F., born in 1924: “Only a few Jewish families lived in Bohodukhiv. They came [from Kharkiv] and rented apartments from time to time. I remember one Jewish family stayed with us. They paid us rent.
YIU: Do you remember the names of any of the Jews who rented an apartment from you?
W: No, I don’t remember anymore. Many years have passed. But I can say that they were nice people. The man was a music teacher, and his daughter was my age, or little younger. They would invite us to go to see them in Kharkiv, but we never did because we didn’t have time. We had to take care of our farm and fields. Oh wait, I remember one name. There was a Jewish man who worked at the factory. His name was Rubin. He had two children, a son, and a daughter. His son was in my class.” (Witness n°2956, interviewed in Semeniv Yar, born in 1924, on October 6, 2021)

Soviet archives

“500m from the copper factory to the right of Semionov Yar road, in the pine forest, there was a site measuring 3x4m where the ground had somewhat collapsed. During excavations, the commission found human bones along with two passports belonging to people mentioned in the list of the firing squad’s victims: Sima Munich, born in 1905 in the Cherniguev region […] and Liobov Iurovskaia, born in 1896 in the Poltava region […].
Citizen Z., who was present during the excavation, informed the commission that he had heard bursts of gunfire on his walk near the execution site.
Citizen N. said that after the execution, the policemen had offered to passers-by the opportunity to buy clothes from the victims.
Thanks to witness testimonies, the commission has established that the execution was carried out on the orders of Braun, a kommandant who had recently arrived in the town who had declared that he would not assume command of the city as long as the Jews had not been shot. The shooting was carried out by kommandant Braun himself, by the executioner in Bogodukhov, Timofei K., and by other policemen. […]” [Act drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on November 2, 1943; GARF 7021-76-827]

Historical note

Bohodukhiv is a city in the Kharkiv region, about 60km (37mi) from Kharkiv itself. The earliest mention of the city dates back to the 16th century, but it officially became a city in 1662. No Jews lived there until the second half of the 19th century, when restrictions imposed by the Pale of Settlement were partially loosened. The town was never home to a large Jewish community: in 1897 there were 89 Jews living in Bohodukhiv, comprising less than 1% of the total population. The majority of Jews who lived in Bohodukhiv were either merchants or artisans.  In 1920, despite a pogrom during the Russian Civil War, there were 288 Jews in town, about 1.5% of the total population. The local Jewish community didn’t have a synagogue or cemetery. According to the local accounts, some Jews from Kharkiv would come to the city during the summer. They would rent the apartments from the locals. On the eve of the war, in 1939, the Jewish population had dropped to just 136 individuals, making up only 0.85% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The Germans occupied the city in mid-October 1941. By then, most of the Jewish population, local and refugees from other parts of the country, had managed to flee. The remaining Jews were all rounded up and taken to a building where they were forced to live. They had to wear armbands, received very limited food and were led outside to carry out hard labour everyday. They lived and worked like this for several months until end of spring 1942.

On June 23, 1942, all the remaining Jews, circa. 30 individuals, (35 according to the Soviet archives), including children, were taken to a nearby forest by the Germans to be shot. According to the Soviet archives, more isolated shootings took place at the cemetery in July-August 1942. The victims were most probably Jews found in hiding.


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