Ovruch (Owrucz, Ovrutch Owrutsch) | Zhytomyr

The market place, 1917© Taken from www.ovruch.info A church with a monastery before the end of restoration,1910© Taken from www.ovruch.info The Saint Vasyl monastery, renovated by the same architecture who built Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The monument honoring Jewish victims murdered in Ovruch in 1941-1942. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Ovruch

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Ravine (1); Field close to the road(2)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 600

German archives

“Witness Z., born in 1918 in Ovruch, explains that during the German occupation of the town of Ovruch, 83 Soviet citizens were shot. The shootings took place near the church.” [The witness deposition, recorded on May 25th, 1945;B162-7312]

Historical note

Ovruch is a chief district located 154km north of Zhytomyr.  The first records of the Jewish community go back to the  mid-17th century. According to the census, in 1765, there were 607 Jews. By 1897, 3,445 Jews lived in the town and represented half of the total population. There were three prayer houses and one poorhouse. The Jewish community suffered several pogroms, conducted from 1917 to1919, during which time the Jewish houses and stores were plundered. As a result of the 1918 pogrom , 80 Jews were killed. In the 1920s, there was a Yiddish school. The majority of Jews worked at factories, for instance brickyards. If not, they worked as artisans such as shoemakers, tailors, tinsmiths that were organized in different cooperatives under the Soviet rule. A Jewish kolkhoz was organized near Ovruch. With the introduction of Soviet rule, many religious and cultural institutions were closed. In 1926, about 3,400 Jews lived in Ovruch, comprising 53% of the total population. In 1939, however, even though the Jewish population increased to 3,862, they now only made up 33% of the total population.  The town was occupied by the Germans on August 22nd, 1941. More than the half of the prewar Jewish population managed to evacuate by then and all men of eligible age were called up to the army.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Shortly after the occupation, the first executions were conducted. In September, over the course of two shootings, 18 and later 14 Jews were shot by the German SS unit assisted by local nationalists. According to Yahad’s field work, it is possible that these victims, mainly men, were shot 5km away from Ovruch, in the ravine close to the Hladkovychi village. The remaining Jews were moved into a ghetto, located in the area where the majority of the Jews lived before the war. The ghetto was liquidated in fall 1941. In all, according to various sources, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 Jews were murdered in Ovruch.

For more information about the killings in Hladkovychi please refer to the corresponding profile


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