1 Execution site(s)
Honorata, born in 1921: "After the Germans’ arrival on July 5, 1941, a ghetto was established in Pidvolochysk. Its territory was surrounded by barbed wire. The entire Jewish population of the town was confined there, except Jewish skilled workers, such as doctors and pharmacists, whose help was required to fight typhus and other epidemics. I remember a Jewish man, Friedman, working alone in his pharmacy, while his whole family was locked up in the ghetto with the other Jews. Each time I passed near that place, I remember him being sad and desperate, with dark circles under his eyes." (Testimony N°YIU613U, interviewed in Pidvolochysk, on May 26, 2008)
"On this day the commission inspected the site of the Nazi occupiers’ atrocities. The examination of the execution site, located 1.5 km east of Podvolochisk [today Pidvolochysk], on a hill, revealed 2 pits. In the first one, measuring 6m long, 4m wide and 3m deep, 500 corpses of the Podvolochisk’ inhabitants, including men, women, children and the elderly, were discovered. In the second one, measuring 3m long, 2m wide and 3m deep, 10 corpses were discovered.
38 pits containing 150 corpses of men and women, inhabitants of Podvolochisk, were found at a distance of 100m north of Podvolochisk." [Act drawn by State Extraordinary Soviet Commission(ChGK), on October 28, 1944; GARF 7021-75-9/Copy USHMM RG.22-002M]
"Around the beginning of June 1943, the Tarnopol [today Ternopil] security police [Sicherheitspolizei] began the liquidation of my four camps. Skalat was the first to be liquidated. […] Some time later, I don’t know the exact date, the inmates of the Podwoloczyska camp [today Pidvolochysk] were liquidated. Not only the Sicherheitspolizei from Tarnopol, but also the members of the ordinary police took part in this Aktion. […] At the appointed time, the camp was surrounded by a police unit. When I arrived at the camp, it had already been surrounded. I was received by a member of the Tarnopol Sicherheitspolizei in civilian clothes, and I tried again to postpone the Aktion. It was useless. The camp’s 100 or so inmates, 60 men and 40 women, were already lined up. The Jewish forced laborers were taken out of the camp under police surveillance. All I can say about what happened next is what I was told. The Jewish forced workers were marched down the road towards the former Russian border, and from there to a hilly area. They were shot there. A few days later I looked for this place and found it. The only thing to be seen was a heap formed over the recent pit." [Deposition of Paul R., on June 13, 1961, BARch162-27392]
Pidvolochysk is located about 41 km (25mi) east of Ternopil. The town was founded in the 1860s on the banks of the Zbruch river during the construction of the railroad system and a bridge destined to connect the Galicia Province of Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia, whose territory began on the other site of the river. The town had to become a trade center between Europe and Russia. According to the 1880 census, Pidvolochysk was home to 1,004 Jews, making up about 54% of the total population. Over the following decades, the Jewish community continued to grow, and in 1900 it represented 73% of the population, with 3,779 Jews recorded as being settled in the town.
The town rapidly developed with installation of Jewish warehouses, factories, workshops and stores serving the merchandise import and export. A great synagogue, was constructed in Pidvolochysk, but there were also a number of smaller synagogues that functioned at the same time. A Zionist movement became important at the beginning of the 20th century.
Jewish children attended cheder, public schools and the gymnasium established in the town. During the First World War, until 1917, the town was captured by the Russians, who expelled many Jewish inhabitants to Skalat. In 1921, Pidvolochysk was home to circa. 2,275 Jews, comprising about 62% of total population. During the interwar period, Pidvolochysk was under Polish rule before being incorporated into the Ukrainian Social Soviet Republic in 1939 as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. By this time, the economic situation of the town’s inhabitants had declined following a drop in trade. Under Soviet rule, Jewish community organizations and institutions were dissolved, factories and businesses were nationalized and cooperatives for artisans organized. On the eve of the war, there were about 1,200 Jews living in Pidvoloshysk.
Pidvolochysk was occupied by German troops in early July 1941. After a brief period of military administration, the town was taken over by a German civil administration in August. Persecutions of the Jewish population started during the first days of the occupation with the creation of the Ghetto/labor camp where not only local Jews, but also those from nearby villages, were confined. Jewish skilled workers, such as doctors and pharmacists, were the only ones to be spared from ghetto detention. During the gathering process, a number of Jews were shot dead in the streets of the town by the Germans and local policemen. A Jewish Council was appointed shortly afterwards. Overcrowding, difficult living conditions, including forced labor on road construction, as well as isolated shootings carried out throughout all the years of the occupation, resulted in a death of at least 150 ghetto inmates, whose corpses were buried in 38 pits located 100m north of Pidvolochysk.
In September 1942, during the period of a large-scale deportation to Belzec extermination camp conducted in the Ternopil region, and the following regrouping of the remaining Jews into larger ghettos, a number of Pidvolochysk ghetto detainees, mainly those unable to work, were transferred to the Zbarazh ghetto. This ghetto was liquidated several months later, in spring 1943. From this moment, only a labor camp continued to function in Pidvolochysk, which was one of three subcamps of Kamyanky main labor camp.
As the front was approaching, almost all the Jews of Pidvolochysk labor camp, about 500 people, were executed over the course of an Aktion conducted on June 29, 1943 by the Security Police of Ternopil assisted by local police. At dawn, the Jewish victims, men, women, children and the elderly, were taken in a column to the execution site located on the hill, on the former territory of the Polish landowner’s Folwark. The Jews were shot naked in groups by a German shooter, in a pit dug in advance. After the execution, the pit was filled in by several Jews who had been kept alive. About 10 days later, the remaining ghetto inmates were transferred in two trucks to the Kamyanky labor camp where they were executed alongside other Jewish detainees. After the war, the victims’ corpses were reburied at the Jewish cemetery. Just a few dozen Jews from Pidvolochysk managed to survive the war by escaping from the labor camp and hiding until the end of the occupation.
For more information about the killing of Pidvolochysk Jews please follow the corresponding profile.
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