Krupki (Krupka) | Minsk

Young pioneers from Krupki, some of them Jews who were murdered during the war, 1926. Courtesy Lyuba Koichu ©Yad Vashem Photo Collection / A local house. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Aleksander P., born in 1933: “We saw the column around midday. It was about 3km long, and the distance to the execution site was the same. The Jews were crying." ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Margarita K., born in 1936: “One Jewish woman managed to escape and joined the partisans.” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum An eyewitness to a mass killing describes to Yahad’s team how the execution was conducted. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Circa. 2,000 Jews were murdered at this location, in pit dug in a swamp. The execution site located is 30m behind the monument. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum A monument stands about 30m away from the mass graves. There is an inscription in Belarusian, English and Hebrew: “To the victims of Nazism. Here lie the bodies of 1,975 Jews murdered by the Nazis on 18 September, 1941.” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Krupki

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Swampy field
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
1,975

Witness interview

Margarita K., born in 1936: “One rainy day in autumn, I saw a column of about 2,000 Jews from Krupki being taken to the execution site located about 1km away from the village. The Jews were calm, because they had been told they were only being resettled. But they were all murdered. People said that one Jewish woman managed to escape and joined the partisans. I went to the execution site after the shooting. It was a ravine next to the river with many pits, each about five meters long. The pits were not properly covered, and the earth was moving, I saw blood coming out the surface. It was horrible.” (Witness n°946, recorded in Lebedevo, on August 8, 2017)

Soviet archives

“On September 18, 1941, after having surrounded the village, the Germans rounded up all Jewish families on the market square in front of the town hall. [...] The entire Jewish population was gathered near the town hall, where the Germans counted everyone to see if all the Jews had arrived, [...] 1,900 people in all. I learned this number from a woman who, the day before, went around the houses to register Jewish families. After this check near the town hall, we were made to run outside the city to the factory located on the other side of the Moscow-Minsk highway [...]. On the way, we were forbidden from looking behind us or talking. My old mother, my husband’s mother, her two sisters with their families and my two children were all with me. My third child, still a baby, was in my arms. I lost them halfway; they had to stay behind. I never saw them again. [...] When we were brought to the pits, we were ordered to sit in rows on the ground about 25 steps away. [...] Then, they took a group of twelve people from the last row, brought them to the pit and shot them. The turn of our row arrived quickly. A German approached us, ordered us to get up and to go to the pit. As I had a baby in my arms, I lingered a little. The other 11 people went to the pit. I told to this German that I was not Jewish. Meanwhile, the eleven people were shot. The German brought me to the pit and told me where I should lie. Under his supervision, I lay down with my baby on the bodies that were not dead yet and moved. The German went to take the next group. There were still 25-30 people to shoot. While the German was making the round trip, I discreetly came out of the pit with my baby and began to run. [...]
At first, the execution site was surrounded by many guards, about 400 people, but when my turn arrived the guards were less numerous because most of them had gone to the canteen. [...][Deposition of a Jewish survivor Mariia S., born in 1915, given to the State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK); RG 22.002M: 7021-87-7]

German archives

“[...] I remember searching for a hairdresser in Krupki to get my beard trimmed. The man who did it had a wooden leg. The next day, around 9 am, I looked through the window of my room. At about 50-100m away, I saw about 40-50 people: men, women and children. The column was moving towards a hill. The day before, people had dug a pit there. The man with the wooden leg who had shaved me the day before was also in the column. Otherwise I wouldn’t have understood that those people were the Jews. SS men were leading the column. [...] Here’s what I observed from a distance of 50-100m: The Jews had to stand on the edge of the pit, facing it. In front of them there was someone who was reading names out loud. Once called, the Jews had to move to another side of the pit. [...] One of the SS men came up behind them and shot them in the nape of the neck. [...]. [Deposition of Josef H., a member of the Landesschützenregiment 61 unit, drawn up on April 13, 1964 in Aix-la-Chapelle; B162-3287]

Historical note

Krupki is located 129km northeast of Minsk. The settlement was founded in 1067. The first records of the local Jewish community date back to the 17th century. According to the historical sources, 1,800 people lived in Krupki in 1895, the majority of whom were Jewish. They lived off small-scale trade and handcrafts. At that time there were three Hebrew schools and three synagogues in Krupki. During the 1920s, about 75% of the local Jews emigrated to Western Europe and the USA. As a result, only 870 Jews lived in the town in 1939, comprising just 25% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Krupki was occupied by the Germans on July 1, 1941. They immediately established their headquarters on Leninskaya Street. Shortly afterwards, the entire local Jewish population was marked and confined in the ghetto, created in July 1941. The ghetto contained around 1,000 Jews. The first killings started shortly after that and lasted from July to mid-September. Thus, about 100 Jews were murdered at the cemetery during one of such Aktions. On September 18, 1941, under the pretext of being sent to Germany for forced labor, about 1,900 Jews of the town were gathered at the main square. After having been checked off a list, they were all taken outside the village in the direction of Lebedevo, to the pits dug next to the Strazhnitsa river. Prior to the execution, the Jews were forced to strip down to their underwear and surrender all their valuables. They were then taken to the pits and shot in groups of 12-15. The local men were requisitioned to fill the pits in. The Aktion was carried out by Einzatzkommando 8 based in Borisov.

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