Horodysche (Gorodishche, Horodishtch, Horodyszcze, Horowidisce)/Lutsk | Volyn

Five Jewish young women in Lutsk in the years before WWII. © Ghetto fighters house archives The Lutsk synagogue © Wikipedia Old Synagogue of Łuck in the early 20th century © Yad Vashem Photo Collection Children on the streets of the ghetto © Yad Vashem Photo Collection Ghetto streeof Lutsk following extermination of Jews, 1942 © Wikipedia Young Jews apparently being taken to the labour camp © Yad Vashem Photo collection Two camp guards supervise a group of Jewish forced laborers from the Wisznice ghetto while they stand in line for food at the Horodyszcze labor camp. ©  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Eliezer & Jenelly Rosenberg A Jewish woman and girl stand in the doorway of a wooden barracks in the Horodyszcze labor camp.© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Instytut Pamieci Narodowej Apparently a member of the German Order Police near the mass grave at Gurka Polonka (Execution site close to the sugar factory, not far away from Horodyshche and Polonka). Photograph taken shortly after the murder operation. © Yad Vashem Photo Collection / / Petro G., born in 1904: “Before being killed the Jews had to undress completely. They threw the clothing on a pile on the ground. Then, in groups they had to walk onto the plank”. © Guillaume Ribot /Yahad-In Unum Maria, born in 1923 and her sister on the back ground, used to bring food to the Lutsk ghetto. She brought milk to her family’s acquaintance, Rivka. Rivka was executed along with other Jewish inmates in August 1942. © Guillaume Ribot /Yahad-In Unum Ivan V., born 1929: “The Jews used to say that the Germans began by murdering them but would end by murdering us”. © Ellénore Gobry/Yahad-In Unum The former location of the labor camp on the Krasne street. Today, there is a residential building at this place  © Guillaume Ribot /Yahad-In Unum The former sugar factory. The execution site is located not far away from this place. © Guillaume Ribot /Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team at the place of shooting with the witness. © Ellénore Gobry -Yahad-In Unum The active Jewish community of Lutsk take care of the memorial in the memory of the 25,000 Jews from Lutsk murdered here © Ellénore Gobry /Yahad-In Unum At the execution site of about 25,000 Lutsk Jews murdered in 8 mass graves  during several aktions conducted by the Nazis © Ellénore Gobry /Yahad-In Unum The execution site where a big trench 150m long and 6m wide was dug. According to the Soviet archives there were eight trenches. © Ellénore Gobry /Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews from Lutsk in Horodyshche/Polonka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Near the sugar factory
Memorials :
Period of occupation:
Number of victims :

Witness interview

Ivan V., born in 1929: "When I came, I saw the children and the women forced to undress. The women were ashamed and did not want to remove their clothes. They were hit with the butt of their rifles. Then they told them to go to the edge of the pit and they executed them. In the chaos some fell into the pit alive. They tried to get out but were shot in the head." (Eyewitness n°1482, interviewed in Horodysche, on May 6th, 2012)

Soviet archives

«On December 11th, 1941, all of the Jewish population of the town, -and they were about 20,000 Jews, were confined into a ghetto, a closed area. The Jewish inmates could take only the belongings that they had time to take, while the remaining belongings were looted or lost. On August 19th, 1942, the extermination of Jews started. The Jews were forced into about fifty trucks and transported to the place called Gurka Polonka, behind Gnidava, where they were shot. The Jews that went into hiding were shot on the spot if they were found by the local police or German gendarmerie. It was like this until August 22nd, 1942. Only, one part of the Jews, about 100 people, were spared. They were mostly specialists, nurses, doctors [illegible word]. They were confined in a labor camp à Lutsk, located on the Kiev street in a former [illegible word], where they worked under the guard of the local police until September 1942. […] Afterwards, they were exterminated in the same way as the previous group.” [Deposition of a local residents, Georgiy D., born in 1893, to the State Soviet Extraordinary Commission; RG.22-002M; 7021-55-7]

German archives

"[…] Horodyshche was about 8km from Lutsk. I was there in the summer of 1942. I remember there were between 80 and 100 Jews gathered in a camp and were doing farm work for the Germans. I think that at the end of 1942 the extermination of the Jews from the town started. During the night they were taken outside the city and shot. I think I am the only survivor of the Horodyshche camp. I stayed in the camp for a couple of months. The Sonderführer was a German […]. "[Deposition of a Jewish survivor Ben Zion P., given during the trial; B162-3879]

Historical note

Horodyshche is a city located in the Volynia in western Ukraine about 8 km of Lutsk. According to the witness, there was one Jewish family in Horodyshche. A much bigger Jewish community lived in Lutsk, the administrative center of the Volyn region. Lutsk is located on the banks of the Styr River in the northwestern part of the Ukraine. Between the two wars Lutsk was under Polish rule. In 1939, it was annexed by the Soviet Union. The first records of the Jewish community date back to early 15th century. The Jews suffered from several waves of pogroms conducted between 1648 and 1649, and between 1919 and 1920.  In 1662, almost the half of population was Jewish. In 1802, there were 1,297 Jews in the town and it climbed to 5,010 in 1847. In 1897, they were 9,468 comprising 60% of the population. The majority of Jews lived off small scaled trade and handcraft, some owned food and beverage factories, pharmacies, or hotels. Several political organizations, for instance the Bund and Zionists, operated in the town from the 1920s to 1930s. There were several Jewish schools including Talmud Torah, Yeshiva and one high school. However, under the Soviet rule all Jewish organizations were forbidden and institutions were closed.  In 1939, about 16,000 Jews (40% of total population) lived in the town. In 1941, the Jewish population reached about 20,000 as many refugees from the West settled down in Lutsk.  Lutsk was occupied by the German army on June 25th, 1941. Less than 5% of the prewar Jews managed to flee the town by that time.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

From the historical sources we know that the victims murdered near Horodyshche were native to Lutsk. The majority of the sources refer this site as Hirka Polanka, however during the field research we found that it is located close to the modern day neighborhood called Polonka, closer to the village of Horodyshche. That is why Yahad identifies this execution site under the name of Horodyshche. The anti-Jewish measures were implemented straight after the occupation.  Before the Soviets retrieved the NKVD shot about 2,800 prisoners among which were Ukrainians and some Jews. On the next day, a pogrom was organized by Germans who accused the Jews in murdering the prisoners.  The locals participated in the pogrom during which several Jews were killed. On July 30th and July 2nd, 1941 two major aktions were organized by Sonderkomando 4a and Wehrmacht units against 1,460 Jews who were taken to the Lubart castle where they were shot shortly after.  After that a Judenrat was established and Jewish police was created. All Jews were registered and marked with yellow distinguishing badges on their chests and backs.  Besides that, the Jews were forbidden to walk on the sidewalks and were subjected to different kinds of humiliations and abuses. In October 1941, a labor camp was created outside the town, in the neighborhood called Krasne. Some 450-500 Jews fit to work were relocated there. In mid-December 1941, a closed ghetto was created in Lutsk which numbered about 16,000 Jews from Lutsk and nearing villages. While being in the ghetto the Jews had to perform different labor, like cleaning the streets and constantly pay the contributions in clothing, money or valuables.  The liquidation of the ghetto was organized on August 19th through August 23rd, 1942 by German civilian authorities and German police assisted by Ukrainian one. On these days, between 15,000 and 17,000 Jews were taken in trucks to the eight pits close to the sugar factory, located not far away from the Horodyshche village, where they were shot. According to an eyewitness of the shooting, the pits were dug by the Jewish men the night before. The shooting lasted the entire day as the Jews were shot in groups. According to some witnesses, the Jews were shot at the edge of the pit while other stated that they had to walk onto the wooden plank put across the grave. It is possible that during different days different methods of killings were implemented.  There was a chief who gave the order to fire. About 300 Jews, consisting of specialists and medical workers, were spared during this Aktion and shot afterwards at the same place. Before the liquidation of the ghetto hundreds of Jews went into hiding, but the majority of them were caught and brought to the pits to be shot. Only a handful managed to survive.  On December 12th, 1942, over 500 specialists who stayed in the camp that was relocated from the Krasne street to the former school building were shot during the uprising organized by the inmates.  Apparently, according to another witness interviewed by Yahad and some archival pictures there was another working camp, located in Horodyshche. This camp might have consisted of between 80 and 100 Jews. The inmates of this camp were shot by the Germans supposedly in spring of 1943, in the field close to Hirka Polanka.


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