Vysokoie (Visoke Litovsk, Vysokaye) | Brest

/ Antonina M., born in 1927.©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Antonina M., born in 1927, showing her class picture taken in 1932. Among her classmates there were Jewish children. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Antonina M., born in 1927, at the execution site. The pit was dug in the field behind the synagogue. Today, the synagogue no longer exists. This is one of the numerous mass graves identified by the Soviet commission.  ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Ievguenii S., born in 1926: “When the Jews were taken to Poland, the search for those who stayed in hiding continued. About 40 people were found. They were shot near the synagogue.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Anna G., born in 1930: “The Germans transformed this territory into the ghetto. It was fenced in with barbed wire. The synagogue was located inside.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Fiodor L., born in 1917: “At the beginning the Jews could leave the ghetto to go buy or ask for food. The Jewish inmates were also taken for different works, such as cleaning, and construction works.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Fiodor L., born in 1917: “Some Jews were shot before the ghetto was created. The Jews were shot on the street by two or three Germans for no reason.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Vysokoye

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Behind the synagogue
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Anna G., born in 1930: "The Germans built a ghetto for the Jewish population. There was a synagogue inside the ghetto. The ghetto was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. The German soldiers were cruel perpetrators. They would beat everyone with whips or batons if we didn’t greet them in the street. By this time all the shops were closed, and the Jews didn’t have any income. They lived on their savings, on the things they could barter and what people would give them." (Witness n°128B, interviewed in Vysokoie, on April 6, 2009)

Soviet archives

"[…] The third place where the German occupiers carried out executions was the town of Vysokoye. Before the Germans’ arrival, the population of this town consisted mainly of Jews. When the Germans arrived, the entire Jewish population of 3,600 people was herded into a ghetto. Later, part of this population, about 320 people, was shot on the spot, in the town of Vyssokoye. The mass graves where the victims were buried are located near the synagogue, a few dozen meters away. The rest of the graves, individual or small group graves, are located near the town. The remaining Jewish population was taken by the Germans in the direction of Belostok [Bialystok in present-day Poland]." [Act drawn up by Extraordinary Soviet State Commission (ChGK) in 1945; RG-22.002M/7021-83/12]

Historical note

Vysokoye is located 44 km (26mi) northwest of Brest. The first Jewish community was established in the mid-16th century. Previously part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in 1795 the village was joined to the Russian Empire. From 1918 until the Second World War, Vysokoye was within the borders of the second Polish Republic. According to the 1897 census, 2,876 Jews lived in Vysokoye, making up 83% of the total population. The Jews made their living from small trade and artisanship, mostly tailoring. In the early 1920s, the Jewish population of the town was 1,994 people, 82% of the population. On the eve of the war approximately 500 Jews lived in the town. Zionist parties and the Bund were active in the town. There was a Yiddish school and a synagogue. The school was closed, and all the religious and political movements were forbidden once the town was taken over by the Soviet Union is September 1939, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Vysokoye was occupied by German forces on June 22 or 23, 1941. Shortly after their arrival, a closed ghetto was created. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by local police. During the ghetto’s existence, the Jews were subjected to different types of abuse, robberies, and forced labor. According to testimonies recorded by Yahad - In Unum and some other sources, in January – February 1942, several dozen Jews, about 40, were selected and shot near the synagogue. Some isolated killings also took place in various parts of the town. According to the Soviet archives, several mass graves in and around the town were uncovered with the total number of 320 Jewish victims. Unfortunately, it was impossible to establish when these executions took place, neither could the Soviet commission do so. In the fall of 1942, probably around mid-November, the remaining Jews from Vysokoye, about 2, 500, were taken to the train station and sent in the direction of Białystok, from where they were transported to the death camps with other Jews. 


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