2 Execution site(s)
Pavlo P., born in 1931: "While I was grazing my cow I saw the prisoners of war digging the pits, but I didn’t know what they were digging them for. There were five or six pits, one parallel to another. They must have dug them over a couple of days. Later on, it was in summer, I saw three groups of about twenty Jews arriving. The men, women, children and elderly people were escorted by Germans in green uniforms. They shot one group and the next group had to throw the corpses into the grave. They threw them pell-mell, as one would throw animals." (Eyewitness n°1925, interviewed in Khorol, on October 17, 2005)
“Hitler’s soldiers behaved very cruelly with the detainees of the concentration camp in Khorol. On the territory of the brickyard, about 20,000 prisoners were detained. Men were held in the quarry, under the open sky. We were isolated from the outside world with three rows of barbed wire. We had to sleep on soggy clay under the stars. If we tried to enter the hangar where the brick dried, the guards started to fire without warning. We had 200g of water with almost raw beans. We weren’t given any bread or drinking water. Men started to die of scurvy. Hundreds died and their corpses remained in the camp for several days. The smell and diseases spread quickly.” [Excerpt of the deposition of Jewish prisoner of war, Leonid Rabinovich, detained in the Khorol camp. 22.002M.Fond 7021, Opis 70, Delo 948]
“It was the same commando from Lubny who was in charge of the executions in Khorol. A certain P. managed the executions. All the preparations were done by Ortskommandantur in Khorol. The pits were dug in advance at a vacant plot about 20km away from Khorol. One pit measured 20m in length, 6m large, and about 2m in depth. P. ordered the German commando and Ukrainian police to bring the Jews. I stress the fact that the Jews were escorted by Ukrainian police and not Germans. Plath’s commando had been waiting for them on the site for half an hour when the police brought the Jews. There were women, men, children, entire families. At that time, all the Khorol Jews had to wear distinguishing badges bearing yellow stars, so they could be easily recognized. The execution lasted from 11am till darkness. I was in charge of loading the weapons for the shooters. Thus, I was at the bottom of the pit. They fired with a German machine pistol and then with Russian rifles. That was the largest execution I witnessed in Russia. As I mentioned before, I was never a shooter, I was only an auxiliary during the executions.” [Deposition of a German auxiliary, Fritz C. during the trial; B162-5653]
Khorol is a town, located 98km northwest of Poltava. The first Jewish community was recorded in the early 17th century. The number of Jews declined dramatically after several pogroms in 1648, 1905 and 1918. There were two synagogues, which no longer exist anymore, and several Jewish schools. The majority of Jews worked in commerce, they owned the majority of stores, or as artisans, such as tailors and shoemakers. There was a windmill that belonged to a Jew. In 1926, the Jewish population numbered 2,089 (19.7%), but dropped to 701 (6.4% of the total population) in 1939. The town was occupied by German troops on September 13, 1941. Many Jews had managed to evacuate to the East before the Germans arrived.
Shortly after the Germans’ arrival, all of the Jews were forced to register and to wear distinguishing badges bearing yellow stars. In late October 1941, the Germans ordered all the Jews to gather in a market square, taking only their valuables and food for a couple of days, under the pretext of being relocated. About 450 Jews showed up. They were taken outside of the town and shot in groups it the ravine by Sonderkommando “Plath”, which operated in the Poltava region. According to some other historical sources, another execution of about 50 Jewish artisans and about 450 Jewish captives who were selected from the prisoners of war took place in mid-May 1942. One of the biggest concentration camps of prisoners of war was located in Khorol, on the land of the railway station. It was fenced in with barbed wire. Over 22000 inmates, including the Jews, were shot or died from hunger and inhumane conditions in the camp.
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