Chornyi Ostriv (Chernyy Ostrov, Cherniostrov) | Khmelnytskyi

An old synagogue of Chornyi Ostriv. Source: Taken from http://myshtetl.org/khmelnitskaja/cherniy_ostrov.html An old Jewish cemetery in Chorny Ostriv with the last known burial taking place in the 1980s. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The surviving tombstones at the old Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A Jewish cemetery located in the nearby village of Vovcha Hora. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A drone view at the cemetery of Vovcha Hora, located on the southern banks of the Buh River. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Serhuiy T., born in 1933: “A friend of mine and I followed the column from behind because were curious to see what would happen. A pit had been dug. It was a rather big pit.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Maria G., born in 1929: “I didn’t want to see these atrocities, so I continued on my way and closed my ears to not hear anything.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Serhuiy T., born in 1933: “When the Jews were taken there, they were lined up on the edge of the pit before being shot by the Polizei.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The Yahad team at the execution site of Jews in Chorny Ostriv. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The murder site located near an old Jewish cemetery. According to the Soviet archives, there were six mass graves at the site. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum A drone view at the location of the execution site, today located between an old Jewish cemetery and an orthodox one. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The memorial to 26 Jews murdered in Chornyi Ostriv in September 1942. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Chornyi Ostriv

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Jewish cemetery
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
26

Witness interview

Maria G., born in 1929: “That day, I was on my way home from work when I saw two policemen escorting someone. When they got closer, I saw it was a family of four. They must have been Jews. It was after that I learned that this family had been in hiding but was discovered. A pit had been already dug in advance at the Jewish cemetery. It was the policemen who executed the Jews and filled in the pit afterwards. I didn’t want to see these atrocities, so I kept going and closed my ears to not hear anything.” (Witness n°2893U, interviewed in Chornyi Ostriv, on December 15, 2020)

Soviet archives

"In the autumn of 1942, the chief of the German Gendarmerie, Zngelbrecht, summoned all police officers of the district to Chorny Ostrov, about 80 people in total. At 3 a.m. he ordered them to assemble all the Jews from the ghetto, including the elderly, women and children, at the central square, load them on carts and take them to the village of Pavlikovtsy. Several hundred Jews were arrested and taken away. In the village of Pavlikovtsy they were all shot. After this mass execution, Yarusievich, Beznosiuk and other Polizei went around all the houses in the village, looking for anyone who had managed to hide in holes or bunkers with the help of good people. Some Jews had managed to hide in house cellars, haystacks and other places after being helped by locals. But this did not stop the bandit policemen. They thoroughly searched every house, hole, and other hiding place, catching people in hiding. The Jews captured during the search were assembled at the marketplace. From there they were taken to the Jewish cemetery in the town. The condemned were forced to give up all their valuables. Then they led were led in groups to a pit dug beforehand and shot dead.” [Deposition of local residents T.A. Zanshevsky and I.I. Golubieva given to the Soviet State Extraordinary commission in the summer of 1944 wrote; GAFR: 7021-64-?]

Historical note

Chorny Ostiv, founded in 1366, is a village located 21 km (13mi) northeast of Khmlenytskyi. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the 18th century. In 1765, 225 Jews lived in the village. By 1847, the Jewish community had grown up to 1,186, and in 1897 they represented 73% of the total population. The community had a synagogue, three prayer houses, an education institution for men and a cemetery. The majority of Jews lived off small commerce. They owned shops, local taverns, or mills. In the 1920s, only 23% of the total population was Jewish. As a result of immigration to bigger towns, the Jewish population decreased. During this period, many Jews worked at the sugar factory of Krasyliv, or in the kolkhozes, and other agricultural cooperatives. On the eve of the war in 1939, 1,172 Jews lived in Chornyi Ostriv, making up 28% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Chorny Ostiv was occupied by German forces on July 7, 1941. By this time a small number of Jews had managed to evacuate,  leaving behind about a thousand Jews in the village. Shortly after the Germans’ arrival, all the Jews were marked with yellow distinguishing badges and subjected to forced labor. The local police was created as well.

The first mass execution was conducted on July 27, 1941, against Jewish men. About 200 were arrested and taken to the forest located near the village of Pavlykovtsi where they were shot. Only 20 of them managed to escape from the killing site and hide. Shortly after the execution, the remaining Jews were resettled in a ghetto. There were, in fact, two ghettos, one  for Jews fit to work, and another one  for women, children and elderly. Both ghettos were fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by the local police. In May 1942, about 100 Jews, or 200 according to another source, were taken to the labor camp in Lezneve, today part of Proskuriv, formerly part of Khmelnytskyi. They were murdered in the autumn of 1942 alongside other inmates of the camp. 

The ghettos were liquidated on September 12, 1942. On this day a Security Police and an SD unit arrived from Starokostyantyniv and surrounded the ghetto and forced everyone out. After a selection, the Jews fit to work were taken to labor camps around Proskuriv while others were taken to Pavlykovysi and Gueletynsi where they were shot in pits prepared in advance together alongside Jews from Gvardiiske. Jews who managed to hide, in all 26 individuals, were found out and shot at the Jewish cemetery, 500m away from the village during the following days by the local policemen. 

Nearby villages

  • Pavlykivtsi
  • Gvardiiske
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