2 Execution site(s)
Mykola K., born in 1926: “One week before the execution all Jews were rounded-up from their homes and taken to the police station. Then, one day, it was about 2pm, I saw a big column marching in the direction of the anti-tank ditches located in the northern part of the village. People said that there were about 180 Jews in the column, including men, women, children and elderly people. They were all marched escorted by Germans with dogs. There were four dogs, I remember them very well. The Germans armed with submachine guns walked from both sides of the column. The Jews walked slowly. They were crying and holding little children by hand. Once the column passed, after a while I heard the gunshots. I didn’t follow the column, so I can’t tell you much about the shooting itself.” (Witness n°2739U, interviewed in Ochakiv, on December 3, 2019)
“On this day the commission opened the pits located south west of Ochakov [Ochakiv]. One pit was located 100m away from the town, another one at 2,5km away. As a result of the forensic research and local testimonies, the commission established that [an execution of 97 people took place]. During the forensic research the commission found the victims’ bodies. The bodies were laying in disorder with the traces of gunshots and torture. Here is an example of a typical massacre committed by German rascals: in the narrow space of the pit we discovered a female body holding an infant against her. Her name was Zifa Truderman. It was established by the commission that Ms. Truderman was shot while her infant was buried alive. The commission couldn’t establish the infant’s name. The commission established that in the pit located 2,5km away from the town of Ochakov [Ochakiv] 97 citizens of Jewish origin were shot.” [Act n°2 drawn up by Soviet Extraordinary State Commission (ChGK) on April 10, 1944; RG.22-002M: GARF 7021-68-183, p.20-22]
Ochakiv is a small port town located on the Black Sea about 40 miles away from Mykolaiv. Founded in the late 14th century the town was a Turkish fortress until 1788 when it was taken over by Russian Empire. The first records about the Jews go back to the early 19th century. By 1897 1480 Jews lived in the town comprising about 14% of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off trade due to its geographical position. Some Jews were artisans, such as tailors, rope makers, cobblers and others. According to the local archives in 1907 about 20% of the total population was Jewish. They had their Jewish cemetery, which according to the local inhabitants, bordered the orthodox one. On the eve of the war 377 Jews remained in the town making up only 5% of the total population.
Ochakiv was occupied by the German army on August 21, 1941. As a result of the field research Yahad-In Unum was able to confirm the information from the Soviet archives and to identify the location of both execution sites. Besides that, with the help of the local witnesses we were able to reconstruct the steps of how the local Jewish community was exterminated. According to the local witness (YIU/2739U), the first execution took place in late August or early September 1941. Prior to the execution the Jews were rounded-up in the police building where they stayed for about a week. A week later, they were taken to the anti-tank ditches located close to today’s orthodox cemetery where they were shot by Germans.
The second execution took place one month later. According to another witness (YIU/2740U) before being killed the remaining Jews were marked with white armbands and yellow Stars of David and were removed to the barracks designated for this purpose. During one month they continued to walk freely in the town. Then, one day they were rounded-up and marched towards the anti-tank ditches, located behind the airfield, about 2,5km away from Ochakiv. According to an eyewitness of the execution (YIU/2740U) there were about 60 Jews in the column, including men, women and children. Supposedly, the shooting was conducted by Germans and Romanians.
According to the Soviet archives 97 Jews were murdered in Ochakiv, however local witnesses claim that the number of the victims was almost twice as big (180 Jews). The bodies were exhumed and reburied in the town center after the war, but none of the witnesses mentioned that during the interview.
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