2 Execution site(s)
Ivan P., born in 1928, remembers: « When the Germans left, the Romanians continued persecuting the Jews. For a while the Jews continued to live in their homes, but they were forced to wear a small yellow Star of David and respect the imposed curfew. The Jewish men were subjected to perform forced labor. Every day they were taken for road construction. They built the road which led from Khotyn to Chernivtsi. They had to break big stones and to pave the route with the smallest ones. While working they were guarded by the Romanians. Some local people who passed by gave them food because they had nothing to eat or to drink. The Romanian guards let them do it.” (Testimony n°1877, interviewed in Khotyn on June 22nd, 2015)
« On July 6, 1941, the German and Romanian forces occupied the territory of Khotyn and started to exterminate the Jewish population straight away. On July 8th, 1941 all Jews of the town were gathered at the lyceum for girls. Then, a group of 58 selected Jews were taken by Romanian soldiers outside the town and shot not far away from the military cemetery of the soldiers who perished during the First World war. Among the victims was a young girl Rosa Ukhvald who was raped by Romanian soldiers before being killed. The corpses of the shot Jews were thrown in bulk into the mass grave. The commission could determine that the people were shot at the edge and then thrown inside the pit. The shooting was headed by Romanian security police (siguranță) [...] and the soldeirs of the Romanian infantry.” [Act n°1 drawn up by State extraordinary commission on July 11th, 1945; RG 22.002M: 7021-79-68]
« (…) When we were in Czernowitz (Chernivtsi), with three or four Pkw vehicles we had to lead an attack in the direction of
Chotin (Khotyn). Once there we found out that the town was still under Soviet control so we backed up and returned to Czernowitz. Obviously, the following day we left in the direction of Khotyn but with more vehicles. The male population of the place was arrested and gathered either on the street or a square by the members of the commando. These people were shot but I didn’t see anything, I only heard gunfire. They were shot in the middle of the smoking ruins of the place. As I was affected to guard the gathering place, I didn’t go to the execution site. I can’t tell if the men were shot inside the pit or on the ground. I want to mention that the corpses weren’t buried. There must have been an order to shoot because I heard the bursts of gunshots fired at the same time. (…)I don’t know who carried out this execution in Khotyn and who the members of the executive commando were. I cannot tell exactly how many men were shot in Khotyn but I would say they were 80-90 people. I don’t know if they were Jewish. This aktion in Khotyn was conducted as a reprisal after one of the Wehrmacht unities was shot. After the aktion we came back to Czernowitz. » [Deposition of a Sk10b member given on March 28, 1962; B162-984, pp.128-142]
“Taking in consideration the depositions of the following witnesses […], we certify that the police member Vasile M., from the town of Hotin (Khotyn), had cruel behavior toward the civil Jewish population. Along with the commissar and sub officers he arrested the Jews of the town in order to confine them in the building of the lyceum. On their way the Jews were picked with the bayonets. 54 Jews including 2 women were selected to be shot. They were taken to the lake, close to the route Nedeboilor, and shot. [Archives from an open Penal trial conducted in Bucarest on August 17, 1949 ; RG25.00M, Reel 24, p. 20]
Khotyn is a town located 48km north east of Chernivtsi, close to the banks of the Dniester River. The first written records about the Jewish community in Khotyn date back to the early 15th century. In 1808, 340 Jewish families lived there. The town was an important trading center due to its location by a river crossing. Due to immigration, the Jewish community largely increased and in 1964 numbered 6,342 Jews. By the end of 19th century, the Jews represented half of the local population. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade or were craftsmen. There were also lawyers, teachers, and doctors among the Jews. There was a Jewish cemetery, a synagogue, and several educational institutions such as Talmud Torah, Tarbut elementary school, and a private school for girls. From 1918 to 1940, the town was under Romanian rule and in June 1940 it was annexed by the Soviet Union. On the eve of the war about 15,000 Jews lived in Khotyn. The town was occupied back by Romanians and Germans on July 7th, 1941.
On the same day of the occupation, a pogrom was organized. Those Jews who were found on the streets were shot dead. During the first days about 2,000 Jews were shot dead by Romanian troops. A couple of days later the remaining 2,000-3,000 Jews were assembled in a Jewish school building. Jewish houses and shops were plundered then. The execution was conducted by Germans from the Einsatzgruppe. From 2,000 detainees they selected 57 specialists including the Rabbi and took them outside the town to the trenches where they were shot. Those Jews who didn’t show up at the school building and were found out were shot on the spot by Romanians. Some 180 Jews were shot in that way. On July 31th or August 1st, according to different sources, after an order to deport all the Jews to Transnistria was issued, all the remaining Jews were taken to the transit camp in Sokyriany. Many of them were shot dead on the way and were left by the road. Before reaching the camp in Sokyriany, the Jews from Khotyn stayed in the camp in Otaki, where hundreds died from epidemics. The survivors were taken back to the camp in Sokyriany before being deported to Transnitria. According to some sources, on their way, when the column passed close to the Dniester river, 400 Jews were forced into river by Romanians. The majority of them drowned. Those who attempted to swim were shot dead. Only 500 Jews from the prewar community survived the Holocaust.
For more information about the camp in Sokyriany please refer to the corresponding profile
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