Meleni | Zhytomyr

/ Local ambience ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The well that villagers use to collect water.  ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Mykhailo V., born in 1935: “The Jews were subjected to different kinds of humiliation. Once, they were taken to the valley and forced to kneel down and graze as if they were cattle.” ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Vera V., born in 1929: “Once I saw the Jews being harnessed instead of horses. They were four. They had to pull the cannon from our village to Korosten. If they didn’t move forward quickly enough, the Germans would  beat them” ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Mykhailo V., born in 1928: “For a while we hid our Jewish neighbors’ daughter in the house. Her name was Nina. Back then, she was one year older than me. She had red hair and was different than us. That is why she was easily recognizable.” ©Victoria Bahr Yahad team during the interview at the execution site of two Jewish children that were 2 years old. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Mykhailo V., born in 1935, points out the field where the Jews were taken to graze. They were forced to kneel down and eat grass as if they were cattle, as Germans guarded them. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Maria V., born in 1930: “Our teacher was young and had two young children. The Germans forced her to dig a grave for them. They shot her children and she had to bury them. After they took her somewhere and killed her” ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The mass execution site where the Meleni Jews were killed on August 2nd ,1941 ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Maria V.leads Yahad team to the place where she saw two Jewish children being killed in the pit dug by their mother.  The children’s corpses were buried on the site while their mother was taken away and shot in  unconfirmed location.©Victoria Bahr/Yahad

Execution of Jews in Meleni

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Field (1); Close to the Jewish house(2)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 115 and 150

Witness interview

Mykhailo V., born in 1928, recalls: “Many Jews went into hiding after the initial shooting. There were four Jewish komsomols who hid in the barn, but they had been denounced by someone. Five or eight days after the shooting, the Germans came and arrested them. But they didn’t kill them right away. First, they tied their hands up behind the back with barbed-wire and forced them to graze as if they were cattle. They were forced to graze for four days. While they were grazing, the Germans guarded them and if they stopped – the guards would beat them.
After that, the four Jews were taken to the administration building where other Jews had already been rounded up. Once they had gathered all Jews, they took them in the direction of Korosten. In all, they were about 50.” (Testimony n°1624, interviewed in Meleni, on April 21st, 2013)

Soviet archives

“On August 22nd, 1941, in the village of Meleni, 74 civilian Soviet citizens including 28 children, 19 elderly, and 23 women were arrested. The same day, they were taken to the land belonging to Petrovskyi kolkhoz, shot barbarously, thrown into the grave and buried.” [Act drawn up on May 29th, 1945, by the State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M:7021-60-313]

German archives

“On August 22nd, 1941, in the village of Meleni, 28 children, 19 elderly persons and 23 women were imprisoned and shot on the territory of kolkhoz “Petrovskyi”. [Report; B162-7321]

Historical note

Meleni is located 75km north of Zhytomyr. Before the war there were two kolkhozes in Meleni: “Kirov” and “Petrovskyi”. There was also a furniture factory that employed many Jews. Other Jews lived of small trade or were artisans. The Jewish and Ukrainian children studied together at one school. There wasn’t a synagogue. The village was occupied by the German army in early August 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Three weeks after the occupation the anti-Jewish measures were implemented. A part of the Jews, who continued to live in their houses until now, was arrested and taken to the Petrovskiy kolkhoz territory where they were executed. During this execution, carried out on August 22nd, 1941, 74 Jews were killed, including children, women, and elderly people.  The next Aktion was conducted on September 17th, 1941, during which time 39 Jews from Meleni and 4 Jews from Shershni were shot on a road in the Korosten area by the Germans assisted by the local police. Based on the accounts of local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, we found that several isolated shootings took place at different time. Before being killed, the Jews were subjected to different types of humiliation, like eating grass, or pulling cannons. Throughout the occupation, between 115 and 150 Jews from Meleni were killed, including 74 Jews killed in Meleni. 

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