1 Execution site(s)
Olha Ch., born in 1927: "Before the war, there were Ukrainians, Poles and Jews in the village. The Jews mainly lived in the city center. I had several Jewish neighbors, including Ficher N***, who was a wheat merchant, living with his wife Roza and their daughter Rusia. There was also another neighboring family, the F***, one of whose brothers was a beekeeper. He also had a wife and daughter. [...] When Kozova was occupied by the Germans, I saw the ghetto. It was near the cultural building. From a distance, I saw that the place was guarded by German policemen in dark uniforms, so I didn’t want to get too close. My former Jewish neighbors were confined inside. They were not allowed to leave this area. When my brother passed by the Ghetto, my neighbor Ficher N*** recognized him and shouted "Goodbye!"(Witness n°2544U, interviewed in Kozova on December 4, 2018)
“In Kozova, in the ravine outside the city, 4 880 people were shot:
-July 30, 1941: 1,440 people;
-August 19, 1942: 180 people;
-October 21 1942: 300 typhus patients murdered in their homes. [...]"[Deposition of Isaac Wolf, given to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission in 1944; GARF 7021-75-487; pp. 8-9]
Kozova is a town located 35 km (21 miles) west of Ternopil, in Western Ukraine. The first trace of a local Jewish community dates back to the early 17th century. From then on, the Jewish population grew constantly, from 364 in 1765, to 1,510 in 1880, representing 37% of the town’s total population. Meanwhile, around 1830, a Jewish cemetery was built. In 1906, a large fire destroyed many buildings, including the homes of over 300 Jewish families. However, the Jewish community continued to grow and in 1909 a Hebrew school was founded. During World War I, several dozen Jews from Kozova were deported to Ternopil. During the interwar period, the town was under Polish rule, and was taken over by the Soviet Union in 1939. Ukrainians, Poles and Jews lived in Kozova. Relations between the different communities were good and some mixed marriages took place. The Jews mainly lived in the town center and had a synagogue. They worked in various professions such as lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, and taverns owners. At the same time, several Zionist organizations were active in the town. In 1939, about 2,000 Jews resided in Kozova. At the end of 1939, with the capture of Poland by Nazi Germany, many Polish Jews fled to neighboring territories. The exact number of Jewish refugees who arrived in Kozova remains unknown.
On June 22, 1941, the German armies and their allies began their invasion of the USSR. Kozova was occupied by the Wehrmacht on July 3, 1941. As soon as the occupation began, the German authorities created local Ukrainian auxiliary police and a Jewish police force to assist the Gestapo. The first isolated executions started shortly after. A group of 4 Jews was killed by Germans on July 5, 1941. In October 1941, more than 300 Jews were rounded up in the town center under the pretext of being taking away for forced labor. They were in fact taken to a stone quarry and shot. At the end of 1941, a ghetto was formed in the town center, where the Jewish quarter had been. Local Jews and Jews from surrounding villages were forced to move there. A Jewish council administered the inside of the ghetto and no resident was allowed to leave. German police officers guarded the ghetto continuously. In 1942, about 2,000 Jews were interned inside the ghetto. In September 1942, a thousand Jews from the ghetto were rounded up and deported to the Bełżec extermination camp. In the spring and summer of 1943, the gradual liquidation of the Kozova ghetto was initiated. More than 1,700 Jews were rounded up and killed in three mass Aktions, conducted on April 9 and 17, and June 12. During the Aktions, the Jewish inmates were gathered near the ghetto under the supervision of about a hundred German guards. Some Jews who could not walk were shot directly in their homes. They were then organized into a column and taken to a field located one kilometer from the ghetto and next to the cemetery. Once there, Jewish men were requisitioned to dig two large pits. Upon arrival at the site, the Jews in the column had to undress and throw away their valuables. They were then all shot. After this execution, there were no Jews left in Kozova.
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