Pyriatyn (Pyryatyn, Piriatin) | Poltava

/ Ambiance of the streets of the town © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The old building in Pyriatyn © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The old Jewish cemetery © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The building where the Gendarmerie was installed © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The location of the ghetto. View of one of the streets © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Mykhailo K., born in 1930, indicates to the Yahad team the way the Jews were taken from the ghetto  to the shooting © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Nadia B., born in 1930: "I saw my classmate, Solomon, in the column. He looked at me for a long time and started to cry. Me too, I was crying. We knew what was going to happen." © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Mykhailo K., born in 1930: "The Jews were forced out of the ghetto and gathered at a place. When I saw my classmate, Boria, I asked him where he was being taken and he told me he was going far away." © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Yahad team with the witness at the execution site © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The execution site of more than 1900 Jews, communists and Soviet activists © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Pyriatyn

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Woods called “Pirogovska Levada”
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 2,000

Witness interview

Nadia B., born in 1930: "I saw my classmate, Solomon, in the column. At one point, his shoe got stuck in the mud and he wanted to pick it up, but a guard pushed him roughly and said to keep moving. He looked at me for a long time and started to cry. Me too, I was crying. I think he was feeling ashamed to be in the column, and I was ashamed to be on this side of the road. We were looking at each other and crying. We knew what was going to happen..."(Witness n°1933, interviewed in Pyriatyn, on October 20, 2015)

Soviet archives

“The execution was carried out on April 6, 1942. After torturing them, the German barbarians forced the people to undress and shot them in groups of 20-26 with sub-machine guns. Half of them were only wounded and suffocated under the corpses that fell down on top of them. According to the accounts of the eyewitnesses, the ground was moving for several days after the shooting as there were still living people. Among the victims were the following families: the Rizakov, Filkvich, Pevznar, Borokhoskiy, Agranovich, Tsytkin, Poliskin, Poyalkov, Khodosh, Gurevich, Matlin, Klimovitskiy, Bulkin, Kaplan, Stavitskiy, Zhabinskiy families. […] In all, 1900 Jews, including: women, elderly people and babies were found during the exhumation. Among them were 370 children.” [Act of Soviet Extraordinary Commission, drawn up on May 15, 1944: RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 70]

Historical note

Pyriatyn is located on the Udai River, midway between Kyiv and Poltava, 140 km southeast of Kyiv. The first Jewish community was recorded in the early 17th century. The number of Jews declined dramatically after several pogroms in 1648 and 1918. At the beginning of the 19th century, there were four synagogues, but all of them were closed once the Soviet regime was installed. There was a Jewish cemetery, two private colleges for Jewish men, two private colleges for Jewish women, and a Talmud Torah. In the 1920’s, there were three registered Jewish religious communities, including Zionist youth movement. The majority of Jews were involved in trade, almost 80% of stores in the town belonged to Jews, or worked as artisans. A small part of the Jewish population worked in factories. In the 1920s a Jewish collective farm, called “The Banner of Communism”, was organized.  On the eve of the war, 13% of the total population was Jewish (about 1,747 Jews living in Pyriatyn). 15-20% of the Jews who lived there before the war managed to evacuate to the East before the German arrival, while the Jewish men were enrolled in the Army. The town was occupied by German troops on September 18, 1942.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

From September 1941 until September 1942, Pyriatyn was under German military administration and only in 1942 was it put under civil administration of the general district of Kyiv.  Shortly after the Germans’ arrival, all Jews were registered and marked with armbands bearing the Star of David. The Jewish men were subjected to forced labor. At the end of 1941 or beginning 1942, a ghetto was established and numbered over 1,500 Jews by late March 1942. The ghetto was set up on Naberezhnaya Street and according to the witness interviewed by Yahad, it wasn’t fenced in, but was guarded by policemen.

There were two major executions of Jews carried out by SD units Sonderkommando Plath, accompanied by Ukrainian auxiliary police.

The first one took place on April 6, 1942. During the liquidation of the ghetto, about 1530 Jews were taken to the woods, 3km away from the town, and shot in groups of five at the bottom of the pit. According to witness interviewed by Yahad who saw the column of Jews taken outside the town, the children and elder people were taken in carts, while the adults marched. The column was escorted by Germans with dogs and policemen. The second mass execution took place on May 18, 1942, when several Jewish families were killed along with 380 communists and Soviet militants, and 25 Gypsy families. 

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