1 Execution site(s)
Galina K., born in 1935: "Before the war, the village was quite small, but there were 3 cemeteries, an orthodox cemetery, a Polish cemetery, and a Jewish cemetery. My father had many Jewish friends. On the street where we lived, most of our neighbors were Jewish. It often upset me that the Jews were better dressed than us." (Witness N°845, interviewed in Kopatkevichi, on September 21, 2014).
Kopatkevichi is a small town situated 150km west of Gomel. Before the war, there was a significant Jewish population living mostly in the center. The majority of the Jewish population were shopkeepers. 881 Jews lived in the village in 1939. There was a Yiddish school and a synagogue, which was opened in 1937. The city was occupied by German forces during the summer of 1941.
The events surrounding the fate of the Jews in Kopatkevichi during the war are essentially known thanks to the witness testimonies recorded by Yahad. At the beginning of the German occupation, the Jews were still able to live in their own houses. On November 18, 1942, the Germans, assisted by the local police, came to round up the Jews from their houses. The Jews were loaded onto 2 carts, driven by policemen, and taken to a barn on the outskirts of the town where they were burned alive. It appears that the victims’ ashes were buried on the spot. Today, a house stands on the location of the barn.
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